Saying goodbye to a great ag lady: A letter to Mom

Dear Mom,

Your passing this month was very hard.  I knew you had a bad heart, but things seemed pretty good lately.  It was a little surprising you left us so soon, though, at nearly 89, I guess they would say you had a good run.

Of course, it wasn’t long enough for me, and lately, I’ve had a rush of memories of you on the farm.  We could be on the back side of the quarter section when you would let out your special ‘woohoo!’ from the house at a decibel level and tone that would reach across the acres to bring us home to dinner.  You and Dad would sit at the dining room table and work on all the fertilizer bills, farm planning, etc. together, to make the best out of 800 acres of Kansas farmland.

You were also ahead of your time.  There weren’t a lot of  ‘working mom’s’ in those days, but your work at the nearby town bank gave us the ‘extras’ we all had as kids, while the farm provided the basics.  It didn’t seem we were rich, but it always seemed we had what we needed.  You made sure of that, and I’m grateful.

Working never stopped those Sunday fried chicken dinners for the family, or the pies, oh the pies you would make for the local church suppers, while you always had an extra one or two for home.

There’s so much more.  The games and the plays you always attended with Dad during school, the regrets of dropping piano lessons to play football, when I probably could have done both.  You were always proud of me and I knew that, and you loved family, especially when a huge group could gather on the farm.  I remember you crying when Dad broke his knee after being thrown from a horse, and the neighbors brought in twenty or so tractors and drills to get the wheat planted.  You loved that farm community and the people.  They were real, they were caring, and that has never changed.

I was glad you and Dad were able to travel in later years.  After being on the farm most of your life, places like China, Hong Kong, Russia, Europe, Hawaii and all over the continental U.S. were great adventures for you.  Thankfully you did it when you were both young enough and healthy.  I remember you told us you were spending our inheritance, but we didn’t care.  You sacrificed a lot, and it was wonderful to see some reward.

The sunset I described to Mom

It almost seemed fitting I was in Hawaii when we got the call you had taken a downward turn.  Of all your travels, Hawaii was your favorite.  I was wishing you were there as I described to you on the phone where we were, with the sunset, the ocean waves lapping the shore, beautiful flowers and the palm trees swaying.  It was your thing.

You never wanted me to play football, and I completely trashed my knees doing it.  It’s why I wonder.  We had arrived at the beach for stand-up surfing lessons when we got another call that you weren’t doing well.  It was clear we needed to come home early.  Any kind of surfing at my age may not be such a great idea.  Did you, just one final time, bring me home before I did something stupid?  I’ll always think so.

There are so many people that are missing you, and you can count me at the top of the list.  Thank you for being such a great farm lady.  Thanks for the love of the country and its people you helped instill in me.   Thanks for being my Mom.

Love,

Your son

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