It seems to be the exception to the rule when someone has such a passion for their career that they simply cannot imagine life apart from it. These rare people must be the best in their field – unable to separate themselves from their work, idle time is spent solving problems in their area of expertise, they are constantly pursuing greater knowledge, and their speech can’t help but spill over with their enthusiasm. I’m in an Intro to Teaching class this block (half a semester), and the most important thing to consider about teaching according to our professor, especially if secondary education is your goal, is passion for your subject matter. As in, even if you don’t become a teacher, you would spend a great deal of your time working with and learning about your subject (math, science, history…). He meant it as a warning – don’t settle for teaching because you just kinda want to and haven’t considered other options. I took it as encouragement. As a double ag major, farmer’s daughter, FFA member, etc. I can’t imagine my life apart from agriculture.
Today though, I’d like to tell you an inspiring story about a man named Sidney. He grew up on a farm not far from my hometown, where he plowed fields with mules, among other farm tasks, until he left for a tour of duty in the Air Force. Sidney meant to make the service his career, but unfortunate circumstances brought him home to another type of duty entirely. In the 1960’s, he found himself back on the family farm, following the same old routine, and before long became the farm’s primary caretaker. He loved the farm work even more this time around, and he lived happily ever after. Right?
Far from it. Sidney did – and still does – love the farm, and the life it provides. But some 30 years down the road, his story took a hard left turn.
Problem-solving is part of everyday farm life, maybe more so than many other careers. When the cows are loose in the front yard, the fence rows are falling down, and the tractor met some power lines head-on… Usually you’re the only one around who can fix the problem, and that’s exactly what you do.
It was definitely one of those days for Sid. The tractor wouldn’t start – dead battery. Easy fix, go get the truck and jumpstart it. Sid got everything hooked up, and disaster struck. As soon as he touched the starter, the John Deere 4440 jumped into gear – backing up over Sidney with its full weight, about 18000 pounds of metal and water with a corn planter behind it. After over an hour of lying there unable to move, a man hauling rock nearby came upon the accident and went for help. A broken pelvis and spinal cord damage meant that Sidney, with little control of his lower limbs, spent 6 months in the hospital before rehab therapy even began, with little hope of recovering to the point of walking again.
The next 6 months of his year’s hospital stay consisted of Sidney’s battle to walk again. With setbacks minor and major, he persisted with a positive attitude through it all.
Meanwhile at the farm, area farmers pitched in to help get Sid’s crops in and the community poured out its characteristic love and support during the struggles of one of its own.
Sid has been living at home since 2008. It hasn’t been easy, and there is a walker and a wheelchair that have taken up permanent residence in his house.
Are you ready for my favorite part?
November 6th, 2009. It’s harvest season, and the corn is ready to be picked. Sid’s son Steve is out on the combine hard at work.
Sid’s family gathers around him, helping him get out to where Steve is working. Steve asks Sid to do something he thought he may never get to do again – does he want to help harvest corn?
Now, picture that big green combine. I’m sure you can imagine a few obstacles that might get in the way of a man with a walker. The ladder, for instance.
This is where problem-solving on a farm shines brightest – Steve and Sid’s grandson Randy had this one all figured out. A backhoe awaited him, to lift Sidney (as Randy held him steady) to the cab door. Sid admits that it took him a minute to figure out the controls – it had been 15 years since he sat behind the wheel of a combine. But the joy in his heart spilled over onto his face, and he wasn’t through combining for another 5 hours once he got started, harvesting 25 acres of corn. His wife Emma Rose and daughter Juanita took turns riding in the passenger seat, delighting in that smile they knew was so well deserved.
Sid said, “God still has something he needs me to do and I plan on doing it.”
Check out the photo album – the story is told so well through pictures that I’ll leave you with them.