in praise of farm families

By kateandcarla

January 10, 2012

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The farms of southern Iowa not only give us some of the finest crops and livestock of the Heartland, they also nurture families and friendships across generations. I felt that soul-deep this morning as I read and responded to a note from my friend Jeanette, telling me her beloved big brother Tom had passed. She asked that I tell Mom, which I will. And, when I do, even though we’ve known this moment was coming, my words will be met with a sharp intake of breath and tears I can hear but not see.

For it was my mama–a friend since childhood of Tom and Jeanette’s mom Hazel and dad Wayne–who diapered Tom on the day he was born. Who took care of the new mother as she recovered from childbirth And who, when their two young husbands were called to fight in WWII, shared a small home and a long wait with Mrs. Demry & Son. The two couples would remain friends forever, even after the Demrys were no longer a couple. At that point, my folks chose not to choose, enjoying more separate but stellar times with Hazel, Wayne and their respective new partners.

My favorite memory of Tom, however, was shared long-distance by my sister Marilyn the evening of my folks’ farm auction. If you grew up in the midwest, you know these events are part sale, part social gathering and all country.  Tom, following in his dad’s footsteps–or would that be voiceworks?–was the auctioneer. Before the first tractor came up for bid, he nodded at Dad and said something like this: “Now, folks, I have known this man my entire life. And here’s what I know about him: If he says it’ll run, it will.  If he says it won’t, it won’t. Whatever he tells you is true.”   When Dad passed several years later, we kids agreed that Tom’s words were the highest praise a man like our father could hear, and the perfect epitaph for a life spent well.

So, now I’m thinking about another life spent well. Tom, it is my fervent hope that you were met at Heaven’s Gates by my dad, your folks, and the generations of Iowegians who came before you and loved your ever-present smile.  I hope there was a battered hayrack filled with farm goods, black coffee brewing at some small shelter on the side, a pitch game planned for later and a request to have you call the sale.

“Okay, boys, now do I hear a twenty, a twenty, a twenty…?”

😉

Photo: 1944. Carl and Arlene Thompson and baby boy Gary; Hazel and Wayne Demry and baby boy Tom.

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10 Responses to “in praise of farm families”

  1. Sis, truly a great post!!

    • Thanks, Dennis. But you and I both know that there are similar stories binding all our families. I remember Ed Carpenter making some God’s Portion Sales a little more fun than your normal church fundraiser. Like selling and reselling one crate of chickens until everyone there had had a chance to “own” them. 😉 How fortunate we were…and are.

  2. What a great story. As you alluded, once Tom knew you, he knew you for life. Never did he not know me on the street. Often times going out of his way to say hi. I’m going to miss him.

  3. Thanks Carl, Wow what a beautiful story, I will be sure to show it to Janet and her family, and Judy and Barb. Ed Carpenter and Dad shared many auctions together at the old sale barn in Corydon. We are all very blessed to have grown up in southern Iowa what a great place!!!!!

    • Hey, Jeanette…just spoke with Mom and she had talked with your Aunt Nita. We talked about the wonderful memories we can draw upon to carry us back and forward. Love to you all. C.

  4. One of the best stores I have read!! I never new the history between the two families.

  5. Okay I need to proof read before sending “knew”

  6. Hi Carla I showed all the family your beautiful story, and that they need to get on your blog. I have told them how much I have enjoyed your stories. You are truly gifted with words, how I envy your talent in putting words together. Of course we all had a great time talking about all the memories, Judy said, she remember going over to your house when you were born, and of course we all remember when Susan was born. Thanks for the beautiful memories. Jeanette.

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