Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tractors on Tombstones

Like lots of women, my mother worked hard and long hours. Yet I never remember her complaining. She seemed to link work, love, farming, family, and satisfaction in a way that made her happy to be alive and, when she was near the end, reluctant to die.

For about a month before she passed away, she was confined to a bed and hooked up to an IV and oxygen. Talking was difficult for her. Nancy and I visited with her regularly on week ends, and during the week I would stop to visit after work before I went home. These visits provided precious moments for both of us as we often talked of her life on the farm.

 "...and what did you enjoy most during your 60 years farming with Dad?" I know the question is stupid the moment it comes out of my mouth, yet I say nothing more because I see her dark blue eyes sparkle a little as she blinks. The oxygen tubes slow down her speech as she struggles to position them with her free hand.
Finally, she says,"Your dad, he was such a wise guy, always pulling jokes, always racing to do things--always he was the center of attention." 
She pauses a moment before she continues. "What I liked best was when I pulled the silage wagon with the newer 850 Ford alongside the field chopper when he was pulling the field chopper with the older 860 Ford. I had more power and speed and just by pulling the throttle back I could gain on his older tractor. Gosh, I loved pulling ahead of him!"

She smiles widely, uninhibited by the tubes pinching her face. Her eyes tear and we laugh softly.

In less than a week she passed away. When it came to picking out a stone, I conferred with Dad and he agreed with my suggestion. Since the tractors looked identical, I supplied the engraver with just one picture. The numbers are too small to see on this picture, but the tractor above Mom's name is labeled "850" and the tractor above Dad's name is labeled "860."

Mom on the 1957 
Model 850 Ford
The wheels are wide for cultivating corn.

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