During the past few years, my parents and I have been talking more openly about the future of the farm on which I was raised.
“One of these days,” my dad has often said, “you’ll be in the driver’s seat when it comes to running things.”
Bit by bit, Dad has taught me what he knows. A fourth-generation farmer, Dad has a wealth of knowledge to share–about planting, harvesting, marketing, buying and selling land. Perhaps the greatest thing my parents have taught me, though, is that the land on which they’ve made a living is something to be cherished. When my ancestors immigrated from Ireland, they discovered rich soil in Central Illinois and chose to settle here–a decision that has continued to shape how my parents and many others in my extended family have lived their lives. Certain fields are reminders of the sacrifices that Mom and Dad made at different points in their marriage, plans and dreams they had for building their operation and creating a more secure future for our family.
As Dad and Mom have shared their wisdom and memories, I have drunk in their stories and know-how. And I have thought about how my life will change when, one day, I am involved directly in the business of farming. As well as how much my life will represent another chapter in the history of our family.
What I hadn’t considered, though, was how soon this change might occur. Four weeks ago, Dad showed up at the local ER with Congestive Heart Failure. On the same day, Mom was transferred to the nursing home with a host of physical problems and increasing dementia. Neither Mom nor Dad seems to be bouncing back, and I am scared that my responsibilities on the farm might come “sooner” rather than “later.”
I pray that we’ll all have more time together. And that when the moment arrives for me to step up and take charge, I will do my parents–and all those who came before–proud.