My son Joe is forty-two years old, a systems engineer in aero-space. He lives by choice in the country and commutes. This is a letter I got from him today.
Last night I wrote about what happened to my neighbor's grandson.
On my drive home last night, I noticed some squad cars and emergency first responders at a neighbor's field last night. I also saw a news crew there. I knew that could not be good.
Another neighbor called this morning to tell me what happened.
My neighbor's 7 year old grandson got crushed between a tractor and a John Deere Gator. His 10 year old sister was driving the gator...His dad and Grandpa saw there was trouble, raced over there and tried cpr but the little guy was gone.
There are a million ways to die on a farm. There are so many things that can kill you on a big farm. Farming demands so much from farmers including, occasionally their lives, and worse still, the lives of their kids.
The sadly ironic part is, this farmer (the grandpa) is the safest, most thoughtful guy...really takes the roads slow, thinks everything through. I see other farmers race their machinery down the road…not this guy. For this to happen to him is especially sad.
I went to his house today after work. All I could do to just hug him and cry with him....
He told me he tried everything to save the little guy…
Man, what can you say. I think I cried as hard as he did…I felt so bad for him and his son.
My neighbor is trying, in his mind, to think what he could have done differently that would have saved him.
That's a human rea ction I suppose. To analyze such tragedies and think how any action by you could have changed things. I think, were I him, I'd do it for the rest of my life.
Out in the country people behave like humans were meant to. His neighbors put all his machinery away for him, collected his crop and delivered it for him. Tomorrow I will meet with the local neighbors to cut more of his hay and deliver it. He told me how great his neighbors were. But he's a guy that will help you whenever you ask him. It's no wonder all the farmers from 10 miles around are coming tomorrow.
Doing something, anything, for a friend when they are this profoundly shaken and sad helps you, I think, more than them…
God's logic is sometimes unfathomable.
Life in the country is hard and not for everyone. You have no shelter from the rain, wind, snow. If you have a medical emergency, you will not see an ambulance for a long time. If you have a criminal attack you, you must deal with him yourself. An emergency call to the sheriff could take 20 minutes to get a deputy to your house. They might as well not come if you are in a fight for your life.
But the other side of that coin is the cooperation of neighbors. My neighbors will help each other plow snow, plant crops, harvest crops and in extreme cases, do the farm work when a tragedy such as this befalls one of the "neighbors." People 10 miles away from me are my neighbors. I know them, their tractors, their trucks, their kids and their dogs. I do not know their political affiliations or religions as those are two subjects we never discuss. We are a giant family of souls that depend more on each other than any government agency for help in an emergency.
I am the odd guy in my neighborhood. I put full Marshall stacks out in the back and blast into the cornfields. I don't raise crops or livestock. I bought an old farmstead, because I love open space, the independence of the people and the freedom to make loud noises with guitars, Harleys and firearms.
My idea of paradise is a place where I can pee on the front yard, shoot a pistol out the back door and play my Marshall amps as loud as I want. That is where I live. Here, in rural Iowa.
My neighbors earn their living farming and ranching. And even as odd as I am, they've accepted me. I am grateful to be a member of their family.
As I sit here tonight, I imagine the pain and the heartbreak of my neighbor and his son. And there are no words in the English language that can adequately express the ruin of having your own son die in your hands.
I know they are awash in grief.