Grandpa’s John Deere
Daddy, why do we live on a farm?
Well Sweetheart, I didn’t always live on a farm, I lived in the city and came out here for the summers; it’s a great place to live. Guess you could say that we are staying true to the family tradition.
When I was young, my parents would send me out here, out of the city, some fifty miles away from the riff raff, hub bub, all the lights and noise, there stood an old clap board home, a big old barn; and Grandpa’s old John Deere. It used to turn the soil on the five hundred acre parcel of God’s Country as he used to call his fertile land.
Grandpa sure loved the Bible and God, he and Grandma both, every Sunday, they’d head to church in the old Ford Ranch Wagon, he told me once that that wagon is the only vehicle on the farm that got a regular washing; God blessed this family, we’re not going to show up to the Sunday service’s with a dirty auto and our grubby clothes on, wouldn’t be proper.
I’d stay with them in the summer, help with the work, whatever he needed done, I would jump in and help get it done. There’s was a gate on the property line, the road that runs along the back of the property, that road heads right into town; Morgan’s not a big town, more like a two and a half horse Briggs and Straton town is what Grandpa called the town.
I’d go out in the afternoon, checking the fields and crops, I’d look up, there’d be Grandpa, the keys to the gate in hand, dust boiling up behind him and his John Deere. He’d pull up on the dusty pathway, a smile across his weathered face, he’d just look at me; Wanna go get a soda, jump on Son, let’s go for a ride. I’d jump on the fender, bracing myself against the seat back and toolbox, there was a notch there that was just right for my scrawny backside.
Huh, those days, the freedom, the smell of a small town, the cops would roll by and wave to Grandpa and me as they passed. We’d clack and rattle along, soon the town would be in sight, Grandpa would wind the tractor down from it’s governed speed, aiming the radiator cap towards Country Jim’s Best Burgers, the name did not deceive. Grandpa and I would get a couple of baskets, a couple of sodas, then go sit on the front tires using the ballast weights as a table, we’d laugh and talk, just two good old boys taking a break from the work day.
Soon he’d wipe his hands, take a sip of soda, give a deep breath and pat his stomach, he’d look at me and say; Your Grandmother bless her heart, told her we were going to town for sodas, don’t know what she’d think of me scarfing down that burger before dinner, couldn’t help it Son, it was good.
I tossed our trash away and jumped up on the fender, we were on our way back to the farm down that old country road.
Soon I graduated high school, spent the summer there on the farm, mostly visiting, both Grandma and Grandpa were winding down. They leased out their land for income, the years had taken their time, but they finally slowed Grandpa down, and Grandmas heart was failing her; Grandpa stayed by her side, ah they were a couple. You could see God’s blessings in their love, holding hands, talking softly, youthful tender looks at one another through wrinkled eyelids and crows feet. They always reveled in their life together, youth nor old age ever gathered their attention; always their hearts, that’s all they saw of one another.
Wasn’t long, had a funeral to go to, Grandma passed peacefully in her sleep with Grandpa beside her in their old four poster bed. Sat next to Grandpa at the funeral, he told me about the farm, how young they were when they started farming, how they did everything together, rain or shine. Today’s a rough one Son, a lot rougher one than my worse day, no one could bring a tear from my eye like your Grandma. Promise me something Son, never in your life take love for granted, love deep and wide, when you fall in love, make sure it’s true; it’s the best thing in life a person can attain this side of heaven and God. I miss her Son.
I could feel life that day, it was hard for me to see Grandpa like that, but it’s like he told me, his back may not be as strong as it once was; but through the love the two of them shared, they can still build a bridge together. All I thought was, with a few hundred acres of farm fields, he must be talking about a foot bridge, guess my mind was wrapped up in the somber loss of my Grandma, Grandpa’s beloved wife.
I went back to school, thinking about life and love, Grandpa and Grandma, the farm, the tractor rides to town, and eating bugers using the tires as chairs; and a bridge that I soon realized was between the farm and heaven. Yeah, yeah, those are worthwhile thoughts. Grandpa saw me graduate from college, got a ride from his grandson, you bet I went and got him, in his lapel was a red red rose, Grandmas favorite; in spirit and in heart, Grandma was there.
It wasn’t long and Grandpa went home, he couldn’t handle life without Grandma, it wasn’t weakness, Grandpa was strong to his last breath always tending the roses Grandma loved so much, doing his own chores including the laundry and shopping. But time without Grandma by his side played on him so much, he missed her presence in the waking hours and dreamt of her at night. One day, I called with no answer to my ringing. I drove out to the farm, found Grandpa gone, his body resting peacefully in bed and his head on his pillow; a picture of Grandma and the Bible at his side. I smiled as the tears rolled down my cheeks to my chin. Well Grandpa, your home, love you Grandpa, tell Grandma I love her; sure going to miss the two of you.
Your Grandparents didn’t like the Will, they went to town and never came back, the short disruptive visits to the city didn’t move Grandpa towards a stronger love for his kids, he told me on those visits to town in selfless compliance to their kids hurried lives was damaging to his love for them.
But no matter what, I could always feel Grandpa’s love, always there, always strong; life always comes down to honest effort, and honest understanding. But then Grandpa and I always conversed and laughed honestly, no matter the subject, we were honest. But that Will is why you don’t see your grandparents out here, he left the farm to me.
Grandpa wasn’t willing to take for granted the blessings in his life, the farm brought your Grandfather and Aunt up, fed them, put them through school, those things were important to Grandpa, he considered his hard work and the farm blessings from God, and yes Grandma believed it to be that way also.
There was nothing left behind for his children, it was left to me, with a note, that told me that he didn’t want the land broken up and sold to the highest bidder, he wanted to keep it in the family. He also knew if he left it to his kids, that’s what would happen. But in the note, he let me know what he saw in my character, he knew I loved the land, and my love for the land came from hard work. Grandpa knew his kids just didn’t care, he never talked much about their non caring ways; but he knew it.
So Sweetheart, that’s why we live on a farm.
I wish my Grandparents were like yours, and that they understood life better.
Well Sweetheart, maybe they will someday; you know, your wise beyond your years little girl. What do you say we get Grandpa’s old John Deere out, take it for a drive to town, maybe get a burger basket and a couple of sodas.
Yeah Daddy, can Mom come too?
Wouldn’t have it any other way Sweetheart!