Monday, February 22, 2016

Dear Grandpa

Dear Grandpa,

It's been a few days since we lost you and nothing's been the same. Getting that phone call was my worst nightmare come true. It still doesn't seem real.

Your smile and laugh lit up the room. I love all of our inside jokes and hilarious conversations. We are truly two of a kind. No one understands me like you do and you are the reason I do what I do. I would likely not be as involved in agriculture nor have the passion for farming that I do without you.

As in many farming families, our passion for working the land and caring for the animals is in our blood. We watched you for years, even when you didn't think we were. Now my brother is following in your foot steps with the farm. He always wanted to be just like Grandpa.

Riding on the tractor with you while you raked hay was always something we loved when we were little. Raking hay isn't the most exciting job in the world, but in this case, it's all about who you are with. Remember that one time that we took the pick up truck out to the high field to pick up the last of the bales when no one else was around that day? You drove the truck and I bucked hay. It was maybe 30 bales. It wasn't much, but it was so much fun doing that together. The cows were in the next field and kept walking the fence line to see what we were doing.

Or remember the time I spoke at the senior center in town during my reign as Dairy Princess? It was June Dairy Month and I was talking about farming and the importance of dairy products. You were in the very front row. When I asked why you weren't sitting with any of the other people that you knew (because, well, it's a small town and you probably went to school with atleast some of them), you said that you didn't want to miss a word of what I was saying. Representing the dairy farmers of our county was one of the highlights of my life and that's because I was representing people like you. The hardest working, most down-to-Earth and sweetest people I've ever met. I'm so thankful to be your granddaughter.

I always looked forward to spending Saturday afternoons at the sales barn with you. There wasn't always a lot to see and sometimes they were still selling flowers until after 2 o'clock, but we didn't care. I remember you used to take us up on the catwalk above the barns to see everything when we were little. That was so cool! You would point out all of the cattle and the goats and sheep. This will always be my favorite Saturday tradition.

We always joked about starting up our dairy again and calling it 'Grandpa and Queeni's Dairy'. And we would get some cows that looked like my favorite 4-H show cow. She was such a sweetheart. Every time it came up you would laugh and say, "Grandpa ain't milking no more cows, Queeni!" At 93, I can't say I blame you. That's one legacy of yours I'm very  honored and proud to carry on. We are dairy farmers. You were always so excited when I would tell you I went to milk cows for the weekend. I know you are proud. I could hear it in your voice during every phone call and see it in your eyes every time I walked through the back door of your house at the farm.

Farming is a tough job. It's a lot of blood, sweat and tears. It's not about the money. Markets go up and down. It's a volatile cycle and not for the faint of heart. Farmers have grit. You definitely did. You taught me that. When times got tough, you get tougher. When I felt like my life was falling apart in 2012, you reassured me that it would get better and I would be okay. I may not feel okay tomorrow, but everything would fall into place better than I could have planned. You were right. You have always been my rock and the one person I knew I could turn to no matter what.

You always made me laugh. Granny thought we were crazy with our random conversations and inside jokes, but we were always having a good time. We are truly two of a kind. I miss you more than you know. I know if you were here you would tell me to go out to the barn and hug my cows. I'd feel better. And to get myself some pretty flowers because I deserve it. I miss you.

I'll never forget what you told me that one time I brought an old boyfriend home with me for the weekend a few years ago. "I hope your boyfriend loves you as much as Grandpa does." That made me cry then and it still does today. You set the bar high. Thank you for that.

Cole Swindell said it best in his new song:

They say now you're in a better place
And I would be too if I could see your face

You should be here, standing with your arm around me here.
Cutting up, cracking a cold beer, saying cheers, hey y'all it's sure been a good year.
It's one of those moments, that's got your name written all over it.
And you know that if I had just one wish it'd be that you didn't have to miss this.
You should be here.

I love you always and forever.
Your little girl