It was 1985. Harvest time on the farm was getting closer. It’s a time for a farmer where he gets little sleep for about 3 or 4 weeks straight. Getting the crops out before a possible Halloween snow storm is important. So, time is of the essence. Every farmer in the area is going 100 miles a minute during this time.
Standing in our old, tiny kitchen, I watched my Dad try to adjust his hat, and he knocked it off his head. Later that day, he held a cup of coffee one minute, and soon after, I’d watch it fall freely from his hand to the ground. After a week of this, Mom and Dad packed up and went to the hospital. There was an abscess on the right side of his brain. They had to operate NOW.
Dad was going to be in the hospital for an entire month so his brain could recover. A month?! I don’t think I quite understood the severity. But I was still scared. And then a question surfaced in my Mom and Dad’s conversations. What about their crops? If they were left standing, it could mean bankruptcy for a small farmer. And an 11-year-old son definitely couldn’t handle it.
Word spread about Dad’s trouble. It doesn’t take long in a small, farm community. 4 or 5 farmers wanted to help out. Then, more came. And more. At least 20 farmers from the area organized and started harvesting my Dad’s crops while he was in the hospital. It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it. I remember multiple combines and tractors and trucks all over the place. People helping…everywhere. Farmers donating their time while their own crops still remained in the fields.
I vividly remember everyone taking a break one afternoon eating some lunch. And here comes the local fuel truck. He was donating fuel. Each combine pulled up and got topped off. Farmers were chatting as they leaned against pickup trucks. Laughing and reminiscing as they sat on tailgates. It was amazing. Surreal. Then, I’d think of my Dad shuffling down the halls of the hospital trying to regain his coordination.
The surgery went well, but there’s still a hole in my Dad’s head today. A part of his skull that was cut out, leaving a soft spot the size of two silver dollars.
Today, I imagine him scratching his head and then feeling that soft spot…remembering how quick life can change. And how much he’s loved in the community he lives in. You don’t see that kind of support, kindness, or unselfishness very often.
You may not have a hole in your head to remind you of how fragile and beautiful life is. But maybe you have your own special memories to remind you of why you do what you do. Of who you’re working for. Of the impact you’d like to make on the world. And maybe this story will make you pause for a few minutes in the middle of your busy day to remember what truly is important.
You may have business goals…but what are your true goals? In the end, what is it that will give you a happy and fulfilled life? For me…everything I do is for my family. When I’m feeling overworked and frustrated, I think of my life on the farm. It wasn’t easy, but I cherish that time. I think of my Dad. I think of his neighbors who dropped everything to lend a hand.
The work will get done, just don’t lose sight of the simple things we cherish and yet take for granted too often. Like Harlan Coben says in one of his books, “We make plans, and God laughs.”