I started thinking about my Grandpa John. He was a remarkable man.
John, the oldest of a huge family, was sent from Iowa as a teenager to farm land his father purchased, in North Dakota, He was a teenaged farmer, farming with horses and his strong back. John also had to supervise his younger brothers every summer when they were sent from Iowa to "help" him on the farm. Imagine it, a kid, farming for a long distance, cold and demanding father, who at the end of the year took his share off the top.
John was intelligent, quiet and unassuming, he farmed with allergies I've inherited, he wore a bandana over his nose and mouth and eventually a dust mask, it helped a little but not a lot.
His fields were perfect, the furrows were straight and he wasted nothing.
I remember driving back to the farm from Church one Sunday (he seldom went) we were all dressed in church clothes. Grandpa stopped his Oldsmobile when he spotted a lone, green piece of fire brush in one of his wheat fields. He and I got out of the car and waded through the long wheat waving in the constant North Dakota wind. Grandpa took off his suit jacket, gently pulled the fire brush out of the ground and wrapped it in his jacket. He didn't say a word, he put it in the trunk of the Olds and when we got back he burned it in the burn barrel. His fields never had any of that invasive brush that plagued his neighbors crops.
My abiding memory of him is watching him in his chambray shirt, bib overalls, sunglasses and a big straw hat walking in the field, his hands gently touching the full heads of grain to ascertain if they were dry enough to cut and then harvest.
He died when I was a Junior in high school, I spent some time with him the afternoon he died, but I can't picture him in the hospital, only in his fields. That's where he belonged.
My Dad, his only son, was a pilot in the Army Air Force, after the war, dad flew a Piper Cub out to the farm to give his parent's their first plane ride. When Grandpa John climbed aboard, he said, "Don't go too fast, Bobby." He loved it!