Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Farm and All That Came With it

The farm I knew was a 500 acre dairy farm in Benjamin, Utah.

But, it all started before that.

My dad and his siblings grew up on a family farm in American Fork Utah.

I've heard lots of stories about those days in A.F. (as they so affectionally call it).

My dad was the oldest and the more studious and observant one. He wasn't as involved in all the things that his brothers did when they were older but my dad can tell you all about his younger brother, Mark when he was little.

My Uncle Mark was my dad's first brother. My dad watched over him always.

Uncle Mark, Uncle Eric and my dad, James (photo of a photo)

Even though they weren't as close when they got older there was always a sense of stewardship from my dad to his brother. He was always so proud of Mark and his accomplishments and talents and truly wished the best for him. The farm kept them together, and sometimes for a moment would keep them apart.

When I was growing up on the family farm in Benjamin there were three brothers and my grandpa who milked the cows and took care of the fields and watering turns and we all lived in the 3 houses that lined the front acreage of the farm. We were neighbors, and in Benjamin your nearest neighbor was at least a half mile away unless you lived on our street where we were a hop skip and a jump away from Grandpa's and about 3 times that far from our Uncle Mark and his family.

My dad was the oldest and first married so I was the oldest grandchild. By the time Uncle Mark had a family their first born, Jill, was about the same age as my sister and my two brothers were close to their next two sons and we just all hung out together a lot.

I remember the humongous sunflowers that Uncle Mark grew in his back yard. I think I was 6 or 7 maybe when I first learned that sunflower seeds actually came from sunflowers, and those sunflowers were bigger than me in height and width! I remember plucking out the sunflower seeds with my sister and our cousins, Jill and JD, and sitting down to eat our small pile that we had plucked... bleck! My uncle came around the corner of the garden to let us know they needed to dry first. That was where I learned about sunflower seeds... on the farm.

We used to ride the three wheelers around the dirt roads to the red shed and Uncle Mark would come out and check on us to make sure we had asked. He knew we could be mischievous, but I think he got a kick out watching us little things bob around on those dirt roads.

I was the first to marry and move from home but Mark and his family had moved long before that time so I started to get to know my Uncle Mark in different ways, mostly after my grandparents passed. Uncle Mark was the one getting the family reunions together all the time. I think that he knew how important it was to gather and wasn't going to wait for his older brother to instigate it, knowing how shy and reserved my dad can be. My dad supported him fully and always made sure that all of us would show up.

Because of living on the farm you would think that all of us kids would be really, really close to our grandparents and Uncle Jeff just a hop to the south of us and Uncle Mark to the North... but we weren't. Not because we didn't want to be, it was because dairy farming is a busy life and doesn't leave a lot of time for socializing. There was too much work to be done.

The times I remember the most were Thanksgiving and Christmas time when the whole family would gather in Grandma's front room and we would tell stories, sing songs, eat great food and laugh at all the old farm stories the siblings had experienced.

It's funny, if you were to ask me to tell you one of those stories, I wouldn't be able to, but if someone were to start it, I'd remember how it ended.

My Uncle Mark was only 58 years old. Healthy, happy and still finding joy in gardening and family.

To hear that he had died from an aneurysm was a shock to all of us.

But, there was some good that came out of the whole experience. I know that sounds awful to put out there in a blog, but it's true.

I rode for almost 4 hours in a car with my mom and dad and my Uncle Jeff. I had SO much fun talking with all of them, hearing stories I'd never heard about Mark and getting to know a side of my Uncle Jeff I had never realized was there.

At the viewing I spent so much time talking to my Uncle Dan that I haven't seen in so long. I kept telling him I had to poke him to make sure he was real. I laughed with my aunts. I smiled and exchanged hugs with cousins I don't see often.

I felt a connection that I hadn't felt since the days of Thanksgivings and Christmases at Grandma and Grandpa's house. I wanted to cry, not only because I had lost an uncle but because I was realizing all over again what an amazing family I had been part of.

I also saw a raw side of my dad that left my heart aching for the pain he was facing losing a brother just younger than him.

The first brother he had to join him here on earth and the first brother to leave him.

My dad loves his family fiercely. It was so apparent to see as he hugged his sisters and greeted his remaining brothers with tear-filled eyes.

I saw the strength and faith that my Uncle Mark had instilled in his children—and in my aunts tears, I saw the true love he had shown her.

I am so blessed to be a part of such an amazing family.

I'm sad that it takes tragedies, sometimes, to bring families together or help an individual realize how blessed they have truly been.

It all started on the farm... and what came with it was love, trust, faith, hard work, willingness to laugh, endurance and a strong sense of family. No matter how many disagreements, arguments or misunderstandings, those are the traits that give you a firm enough foundation to forgive, forget and move forward.

My Uncle Eric making a space for Mark in the sibling line-up. Brings a tear to my eye...

Thank you, Uncle Mark, for the great example you have been. We will not disappoint you as we move forward here on earth as we continue family reunions, family celebrations and enjoy all the family history you helped bring together.

Till we meet again...

0 remarks: