Tuesday, December 22, 2015

What a Difference a Year Can Make in One's Life

If I didn't have the old posts on New Ag Talk to prove it, I would swear it was only yesterday that Ed received his terminal cancer diagnosis.  Yet it was a year ago this week.  Farmers from around the world were sending words of encouragement and prayers and I read him each post.  He loved hearing what they wrote.  It seems like yesterday but then again it seems like a lifetime ago. 

I still can hear his voice through YouTube videos and occasionally watch videos of his past No Till Conference presentations.  That big booming voice just fills a room. 

In the past year, I have tackled many challenges, the last of which is to sell Ed's Silverado, the one that hauled us all over the country to different farms and national parks with the camper on board, taking us to the next adventure.  We met so many wonderful people that way.  It was very hard to see the camper leave on the auction day but the people that bought it were so excited to begin a new phase of their life, travelling the country as Ed and I had been blessed to do for so many years.  I couldn't help but be happy for them. 

I have completed the multitude of tasks that it takes to settle a life estate and begin the process of moving forward.  The farmstead is sold, the auction over, Sable has a new farm family to love and protect and I am moved into my new house in town.  Life is slowly but surely going forward. 

This is the first time since I was six years old that I am living in a place with sidewalks!!  There are advantages for me...church and amenities are close by and the grand children are more accessible.  I have neighbors and my house is not big and empty and lonely.  I don't feel Ed's presence here as I did at the farm.  That, of course, is both good and bad, peaceful and sad. 

My brother, Tom, who many of you prayed for at Ed's request, passed away November 29 following his two year battle with brain cancer.  I was blessed to be able to spend a week with him just before he passed away.  It was good to have that special time. 

I know our God is Almighty but I bet even God has his hands full with both Ed and Tom in heaven.  The last time they were together, the laughter could be heard across the fields.  Those two were a hoot together and I am sure they are enjoying each other's company in heaven.  I bet they are watching over me and having a few laughs over my bumbling efforts to get things done. 

All things considered, it has been a year of growth and change for me.  I have tried to live each day and handle each challenge in a way that would make Ed proud.  I just cannot believe that it has been a year since our world as we knew it fell apart.  I am slowly but steadily rebuilding my part of that world. 

Christmas is not the same this year and probably will never be the same joy filled holiday that it was with Ed.  His elves, (daughters) Shannon, Becky and Tara, don't have any elf work this year....that was always such a fun, secretive time.  Ed just handed over his credit card and my wish list and sent them out on the hunt.  They loved being his elves.  He loved having them help.  I loved the bond it created between them. 

I will be spending the holiday with the children and grandchildren, grateful for our many blessings.  I will be thinking of all of you and wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas.

Hug your loved ones, live each moment as if it is your last and keep the Faith.  God is Good.  LuAnn

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Time Winding Down

My time to live on this beautiful farm is winding down.  I can literally FEEL it with each passing day.  Just as I felt the time I had left with Ed became more and more precious in the days before he passed away, so, too, are my days here becoming more precious.

For nearly eleven months since Ed's terminal diagnosis, I have been slowly steadily walking toward the inevitable day when I leave here....sometimes marching, sometimes trudging, sometimes backtracking, but always steadily forward.   We both knew it, we planned for it, accepted it and understood it.  He has been walking with me every step of the way. 

The auction is scheduled for November 6.  http://www.hessauctionco.com/WINKLE.htm  The bill of sale is printed and the listing is online.   There is no turning back now. 

The house is nearly empty and everything to be sold is being moved to the pole barn.  The items I am keeping to move with me are packed and ready for the movers to pick up.  Ed's son is picking up the last of Ed's personal items this weekend to share with his siblings. 

I have my A-team of supporters who will be here with me on auction day... Farmer Rob Morris, our "E-son" from Marshall Illinois, our son Eric, and our best friends, Allen and Shelly Dean from Dean Farms in Bryan, Ohio. 

I could not ask for a stronger, more compassionate group to prop me up on what will undoubtedly be one of the hardest days in all of this.  Our three daughters have been my sounding board and, although they can't be here in person, they will be with me in spirit.  Ed's sons will hold me in thought and prayer that day, I am certain. 

Ed was diagnosed right after harvest last year.  He passed right before planting season began last spring.  I calculated everything the past eleven months in terms of a full season in God's Time. 

The first full crop season is nearly complete.  I literally FELT each passing season with him in the same way we LIVED each crop season together.  Finding the right tenant farmer was easy.  Jay farms the way Ed wanted-with respect for the soil.  Throughout the summer, watching the crops grow without the endless commentary from Ed was a challenge.  I will never outlive the urge to "windshield scout" that he taught me.  From coast to coast over the years we drove along and looked at crops.  Some might call that boring, I called it a blessing. 

Then the change in the placement of the sun in the sky and the inevitable shortening of days came too quickly, signaling the beginning of the end of the crop season.  It seemed to pick up pace in September and the last couple of weeks, with combines and grain carts and the hum of the fans in the bins. 

We are approaching November, the auction coinciding with the culmination of the harvest around here.  It all comes together with the harvest season as will this part of my journey come together at the time Ed most enjoyed---the grain in the bins, the firewood on the deck, the approach of the holidays that he loved and the opportunity to hunker down for the winter until the next crop season.

Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers over the next three weeks as I wind down the time I have left in this beautiful place...as Ed always said, "God's farm, temporary caretaker." 


Saturday, August 8, 2015

A Giant Step Backward

I took a giant step backward in my grief journey this past week two weeks and it nearly derailed me.  Thanks to help and compassion from my daughters, I am back on track and so grateful for their love and kindness.  As their mother, I know that they love me and will do anything to help me but I think it is greater than that.  They both loved Ed with all their hearts and would do anything to honor his memory by helping me when I am down as he would have done if he was here.

My setbacks were two fold:  being overwhelmed with work and the care of this beautiful property as well as a deep concern for two family members with major health issues. 

I needed to step back and analyze the work and property situation for what they are...just a part of normal life.... but I am doing it alone instead of with my partner.  When the garage doors, the dishwasher, the steam vacuum (all quit this week) and a major work project come at you all at once, it seems overwhelming and it is.  Ed took care of all that "stuff" so instead of them being a catastrophe, they were an annoyance.  Ed took care of all that "stuff" so I could focus on my work.  Why should I expect that I can do it all alone as well as Ed and I could do it together?  That's unrealistic.

Hiring some help to deal with the maintenance and repair issues has helped tremendously.  Things will break and things will need to be repaired, replaced, painted and caulked.  That is normal life.  So I got some help.  Hard to admit I needed it but easier once I got it!

The health issues of my two family members are not so easily resolved.  A loved one is facing a recurrence of cancer that he has fought for two years.  Another loved one is facing the inevitable decline that comes with age.  Both brought back a lot of emotions related to Ed's diagnosis and treatment.  My loved ones' situation brings back some tough questions about quality vs. quantity of life.  I miss Ed terribly but the quality of life that he had was not what he wanted for himself.  I sure wish we had had more years, though. 

So, I fell backwards into a bit of a pit these weeks.  Today, however, the sunrise was beautiful and I awoke with a new determination to keep walking forward.  God placed a dear friend in my path at the grocery store and we shared some wonderful memories of Ed and that encounter gave me joy and hope.  I had great visits with several of my grandchildren yesterday.  God is good. 

I know that the Lord, my family and my friends are walking with me and I will get back on track. 

God's Blessings, LuAnn

Friday, July 3, 2015

In Memory of Ed

 I awakened suddenly from a deep sleep at 6:48 this morning, highly unusual that I would sleep that late but I am on vacation for the next 11 days.  Today is the three month anniversary of Ed's passing. 

I got a call from Hiron's Monuments yesterday that his headstone was completed and set at the cemetery.  I went right after work to see it and here it is....Ed now lies beneath a monument that depicts one part of his life that was so special to him....his beloved farm. 

Yesterday I recalled to his family with vivid detail a moment on our honeymoon on July 2 at Wall, SD....fourteen years ago.  We pulled into Wall with the truck camper and started walking down the street to see what the fuss was all about....Ed pointed out a bank clock above us that showed the date....7.2.2001....and he said, "Happy Birthday, Dad!"  Then he went on to say, "Monk, can you believe that my dad is celebrating his first birthday in heaven with Jesus?"  Yesterday Ed was celebrating WITH his dad in heaven on what would have been his dad's 100th birthday. 

So much has transpired in the past three months.  In some ways things have gotten easier but in many others they remain difficult.  I find myself missing my identity as a farm wife.  I loved being identified with farming and the noble profession of farming.  I have been involved in farming since the age of six when my dad bought our beef farm.  Never, never have I felt disconnected from farming.  That was one of the things that Ed and I shared on the deepest level....our love of the land.

I loved that Ed, either through his own crops or through his knowledge and expertise, helped farmers to produce better crops and promoted stewardship of the land, God's gift to us.  He frequently said he wanted a sign at the end of the road that said "God's Farm-We are Temporary Caretakers". 

I miss that part of my identity.  With the land and grain facility leased out, and the farmstead for sale, I no longer have a stake in the risks and rewards of growing a crop.  I miss the daily phone calls from farmers and the pickup trucks in and out of the barnyard.  I miss his daily reports to me on commodity prices and rainfall.  I miss the sound of his keyboard as he typed out his blog and contributed to NAT.

Which brings me to the true substance of this post.  With the placement of his headstone, I have tried to ensure that Ed will be remembered as a farmer.   

You may wonder why I mentioned the exact time of my awakening this morning.  Three months ago today, Ed passed at 6:49 AM.   

Have a blessed day, LuAnn

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sable Needs a Farmer

Good Morning, Everyone!  Today is an especially hard day as six kids lost the best father you could imagine.  It is our first Father's Day without Ed.  Tomorrow is our wedding anniversary.  It is hard to believe it would have been 14 years tomorrow that I married my best friend.  So many memories....

Just a note to update you on things around here in the past month and to make a heartfelt request for help.

I think Sable needs a farmer. She has a home and a farm to roam but she is still lonely beyond imagination. It is heartbreaking to step outside and walk towards the Dakota and watch her race to the door and hope for a ride to scout fields. I work about 10 hours a day and by the time I get home I am not able to give her the time and attention that a loyal German Shepherd needs. She is my company and protector but I am not doing right by her, I know.

I am looking for a farmer for her...someone who will take her in the truck and let her follow him/her everywhere. Someone who will rub her belly and scratch her ears and talk to her like Ed did. She is 6 1/2 years old, spayed and has a very handsome pedigree. Her bloodlines are very good. She has absolutely no sign of hip problems and the vet says she is in great health. If someone is interested in taking her, please email me. I will deliver her to wherever your farm is. I only ask that you love her and treat her with kindness.

Part of my request comes from my decision to sell the farmhouse and farmstead. Even with the kids and friends and neighbors helping, I am having a tough time keeping up with this big old place. Besides, it is just too big of a house for one person. I need to be in town near people and in a house that is easier for me to manage.

I know that when I move into town Sable will be miserable. I'm not sure that a fence or an invisible fence will contain her if I move into town. She loves to roam the land and sleep in the laundry room at night. I have the house listed as of last Monday and need to be able to place her when it sells. This is so hard.

Other than Sable, all of it is hard but not impossible. Ed is walking with me every step of the way. I have gone through all of his papers. Files and files and boxes and boxes of everything he wrote or kept for the information that he could include in one of his radio spots or workshops. I gained so much more appreciation for his depth and breadth of knowledge and his love of teaching others. He sure loved farming and sure loved to help farmers solve problems. I have found amazing documents of things he wrote over the years. He sure was prolific!

The scholarship fund is set up to receive applications and I am so pleased about that. Matt and I went through Ed's Oliver toy tractor collection and have selected 14 to be given to the grandchildren this coming Christmas. Each will have a package under the tree from Papaw even if he is not there physically, he will be there in spirit. The rest will be placed into a permanent collection to stay in the family.

I have scheduled an auction for August 8 for the small tools and what little machinery is left here. It won't be a big auction by any means but I can't take it to town with me. One more difficult thing to get through but I am walking by faith and trying to do my best to make Ed proud.

I am still humbled and astounded by how many calls and emails I get just checking in on me to offer encouragement and to see if I need anything. Thank you for your prayers and friendship. 

 Please think it over and if you are in a position to take a great farm dog into your life, let me know. In the meantime, please know that I appreciate all of your support and I think of all of Ed's blog followers daily when I offer prayers for your safety and prosperity. God Bless, LuAnn

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

I Made A Decision

It’s been ten weeks since Ed passed, leaving me with a heavy heart, six devastated adult kids, fourteen grands who miss their papaw, a lonely dog, a farm to manage, a consulting business to run, a house that’s too big, our two elderly mothers with health issues, and a job that needs a lot of my time and attention. Where do I begin?

For two weeks, I functioned on autopilot. Doing what needed to be done but not fully aware of my feelings as I did tasks. I went to work every day and tried to dig out from under the pile of work that had accumulated during the three months that I was caregiving Ed. I looked for him in every room and talked incessantly about him and our life together to anyone who would listen . Privately, I mourned the loss of my life as I knew it.

The next two weeks I cried every day as I drove to work. That was my private time to mourn the loss of the familiar morning routine where we read Scripture and planned our evening meal and drank our coffee and hugged goodbye. I went to grief counseling and joined a Grief Share group at church.

The next two weeks I started cleaning out the garage and the barn and packed up Ed’s clothes and mailed them to a family member in need. It gave me comfort knowing they would be used and appreciated, so much more comforting than dropping a black plastic bag into a receptacle at the grocery store parking lot. I reminded myself with each sweater I hugged to my chest that keeping his clothes would not bring him back. I designed his headstone and thought about leaving our farm for a place that was smaller and more manageable and closer to my family. I sent up his scholarship fund. I kept on sorting. I was busy, busy, busy.

After six weeks reality set in and all the “busy-ness” could not fill the empty days and nights. I wandered the house and wallowed in my grief. Boxes of photos and letters and cards brought back so many memories. With each memory, I sank deeper into a feeling of loneliness and sadness. I sat at his desk, I drove his truck, I read his personal papers and hugged his dog, the two of us unsure how to relate to each other without Ed as a buffer.

During this time, I could not envision my future. I could not envision a “purpose” in life or a reason to go on. Why bother to eat and work and sleep and buy groceries? Why? Just to keep on living a life alone and without meaning? What good was living if life held no joy? I missed my joy. I wanted it back and I wanted this sadness to be lifted from my heart.

This pain went on for the next four weeks. It was hell.

Last Sunday, I made a decision. I made a conscious decision that every day, no matter how difficult or lonely, I would live my life with a goal of finding my joy again. I dried my tears and sat down to create a list of things that brought me joy before Ed died. I asked myself why wouldn't those things bring me joy now that I was alone.

While many of the things on my list were things we enjoyed together and shared, some were some things I had always wanted to do but had made excuses to put off trying (Yoga, painting). There were things I loved to do but never had the time or energy to do after work and our couples activities. (Photography, Creative writing). There were other things that I enjoyed but Ed did not particularly care for (boating). I had always put off these activities in favor of doing things we enjoyed together.

In my grief, I convinced myself that we had done EVERYTHING together and that we were inseparable. The truth is we did 95% of everything together and loved every minute of it but we still were two individuals with interests and dreams of our own.

Last Sunday, I decided to take the talents I had been given and the blessings I had received and use them to live life fully, again, with a goal of finding joy. I decided that no one but me could honor Ed’s memory in the exact same way I could and, if I was wallowing around in despair, I was missing opportunities to honor his memory.

I thought hard about the unfairness of wishing him back from the paradise he is experiencing in heaven. If given the choice between heaven and earthly existence, an existence that for him included pain and suffering, could I truly ask him to come back? I could not. Therefore I decided to go on with life.

Life will be what I make of it. The only thing standing between me and a joyful life is the mistaken idea that I can only experience joy with Ed here to share it. The only thing standing between me and joy is myself. My Lord and Savior will provide me with a joy-filled life if I am willing to let Him.

I am sure there will be days and weeks and months of grief that will engulf me but I will not allow it to consume me. I just have to get my joy back or I will simply die every day for however long the Lord gives me and that is not what Ed would want for me.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

A Very Special Sunday

Last Sunday our family celebrated two wonderful sacraments in the Catholic Church....First Holy Communion (Granddaughter Brynn Marie) and Baptism (Granddaughter Charlotte Louise).  What a beautiful celebration.  I never stopped smiling all day!

Charlotte Louise is Ed's namesake.  Many don't know that Ed's given name is Charles.  He was given the honor of choosing her name on Christmas Day and doubly honored to be asked to be her Godfather.  Last Sunday, Ed was definitely with us in spirit.  He loved to hear Brynn Marie recite the Lord's Prayer.  When we recited the Lord's Prayer, you could feel his presence.  Charlotte's father, Erik, read the following from Ed's blog in December of 2012 when he became Katherine Grace's Godfather.  It was so fitting and so special....  From Ed:

"Today I extend my journey in life as a god parent.  I was asked to be a God parent to (Charlotte Louise) a couple of months ago.  Are any of you God parents?

God parenting doesn't necessarily mean you raise the child if something happens to the parents.  That was more necessary over the ages when people didn't live as long.  God parenting has always meant to someone who will see to the child's upbringing in the Church, or at least the path to God.  For me, that means Eternal Salvation, my prayer for every soul on earth.

"It is a known practice in the Church that every person, child or adult, should have a godparent (sponsor) at the time that they enter into the faith through Holy Baptism and Chrismation. To be a godparent is at the same time a great honor and a tremendous responsibility. God asks each godparent to assist in leading souls along the narrow path which leads to the Kingdom of Heaven. For this reason the role of the godparent is not to be minimized or trivialized. It is in fact a role that is holy and needs to be taken seriously."

I take it so seriously I questioned whether or not this was the right decision of the parents to choose me!  After they went through all the reasons they chose me, I had to humbly accept their offer.  What a calling!  It's hard enough for me to find and follow the path to God but to help do that for a little child?

"Most of all, the greatest duty of the godparent is to pray fervently for their godchild that God will always watch over them and guide them throughout his/her life."  I can do that!  I pray daily if not hourly to discern God's Will and utter the words God would have me say.  I pray for every one I meet as I see their needs and hear their concerns.

It is with great joy we welcome (Charlotte Louise) into this family but more importantly the family of God.  My life has let me see there are two powerful sides to choose from, the side of Good and the side of evil.  All of the Saints and Angels, priests and religious who have went before me chose the side I chose and we pray together for the good of all mankind.

I fervently start a new role in life today and have been practicing for a couple of months now.  I never understood this role and will learn it like I do life, one day at a time.

God Bless all God Parents!


God is Good....