Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Men only think of their past right before their death, as if they were searching frantically for proof that they were alive.
Jet,a character from the anime Cowboy Bebop

For no specific reason; no obvious stimulus provided; no prompting or major depression I could determine, I thought of death today. Not in any morbid way was I thinking of my mortality, it was more of a productive introspection.

My first official job was walking soy bean fields in the Mississippi River bay area of western Illinois, pulling and cutting weeds and grasses. I worked for this wonderful gentleman everyone called 'Sparky.' He may have been old even in 1981 but his mind and body were as sharp and spry as someone half his age. He died an honorable death in 2000 at the age of 81. So the story goes, he was inside a large grain bin, inspecting and preparing it for that season's harvest. The top of these bins typically have catwalks that allow for typical maintenance. While doing his work, high on the catwalk, he suffered a massive heart attack and fell 40 some feet to a concrete floor. According to the coroner, he was dead before his feet left the catwalk. He felt nothing.

This is from his obituary:
“He was member or the Providence Baptist Church where he was active in the past as a deacon and usher. He was an active member of the Eliza Lions Club, Mercer County Farm Bureau and the Eliza American Legion. He was a World War II veteran, having served in the Army Air Corp in Hawaii. He loved people, his grandchildren and great-grandchildren and was a good neighbor. He farmed all his life, growing grain and raising cattle. “

I think of my father and grandfather. My father passed in 1983 when I was 17. My maternal grandfather passed in 1990, just a few months before my daughter was born. I wonder sometimes if I and my actions honor the memory of these two gentlemen. Have I been honorable?

They were both physical laborers; my grandfather a heavy equipment owner and operator, and my father a farmer, working land that had been in the family for more than 100 years.
I can let a lot of things go in my life; the stupid; the idiotic; the childish. I find it difficult letting go of a particular childish choice; a stupid teenage mistake. Before my father sold the farm, only a few months before he died, he asked me, a young 17 year old boy, if I wanted the farm.

I said 'No.'

Regardless of whether he or my family or the world forgave me for this childish transgression, for me, this is a hurdle. I pray that before my time is done, I will make things right... not with anyone but myself.

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