Sometimes we get so busy we may forget an important anniversary or birthday and before we know a week or ten days may go by before we remember without being told. Now before you make assumptions I didn’t forget our wedding anniversary nor did I forget Monica’s birthday. The weather had gotten so dry that it became a prime week to make our hay and so I mowed as much as I could and three days later found myself overwhelmed trying to make a hay crop by myself. Monica was so busy at the store that there wasn’t anyway she would be able to assist until Sunday when we moved all of the hay home. By the way she is an awesome truck driver I would never get it done without her. I guess there’s something about a cute blonde and a big diesel truck.
None the less I had forgotten the date August 15th 1999. It was a Sunday morning, it was warm we were supposed to be at the Iowa state fair but instead I was at the University of Iowa hospital. After about a month of health complications I lost Grandpa Paul at the age of 59. Devastating and shocking especially since the doctors alluded that he would get to go home. Most people don’t die at 59.
Now to be honest I was young and if I could go back I’d ask Grandpa a lot of questions. The household I grew up in was dysfunctional to say the least. Not something I talk about often due to the fact that I’ve learned staying positive is the only way you’ll find your path to success. But from what I’m told the house Grandpa grew up in was also extremely dysfunctional. For instance he was thrown out of the house when he was 14. Something I don’t think we’d see today without some action from the authorities.
That said to this day Grandpa was and is my favorite relative. We had a lot in common. Grandpa loved farming as much as I did. I remember trips to the feed store. He always let me get a soda pop. I can remember riding in the tractor for hours while he ground feed and fed hogs. I remember we would jump in his truck and park along side the pigs and just watch them and talk about farming together someday. I remember riding in the combine and asking him how old I’d have to be to drive. And I remember the gravel road the house was on.
It was 178th St. Louisa county. A dead end road. Grandma and Grandpa’s house was the last on the road before it turned to dirt. You could go down that dirt road and you’d come to a creek in the road. I do not know of any roads in Clayton county that literally go down through a creek. Either way very cool. What young boy wouldn’t want to cross a creek in the truck. It was the road that took us to town, took us to a rented farm where he taught me to sort pigs at a young age. I learned working can be fun if you know what you love. I grew up on that road, drove on that road and had my first taste of beer on that road.
It didn’t last forever. My grandparents got divorced and later sold the farm. Things were never the same, in fact my parents didn’t want me around Grandpa anymore. It left a hole I wasn’t sure how to fill. Later in life I realize you can’t allow anyone to take away your good memories. They’re part of what makes you great. I would not be so insistent on starting my own farm if it wasn’t for those great memories with Grandpa.
I used to drive down that old gravel road often. I missed him and I think I was looking for something in the past that can’t be found in the present. Although I think it might be time to jump in the truck, drive down that old road, drink a beer, and tell Grandpa thanks for the memories. I have my own gravel road now though. We live on the highway but, Monica’s family has taken me in as family. A loving family is all you need, even if they’re not the same blood. And I have a literal gravel road. The Weller family has entrusted me with the farm that’s been with them since the 1800’s. Everyday when I leave the store I drive that gravel home. I monitor the crops and think about how fortunate I am to be an American farmer. And I’m confident to say Grandpa would be proud.