I don’t think there is a greater dread for most farmers than the fear of a slow death. I think most of them, if preference had anything to do with it, would rather die just after they stepped down off the tractor after a long day’s work.
Their lives are made of work; for them, to live is to work. Take that away and they are lost. Most, if not everything by which they have identified themselves is gone, stripped away. Even those other things, being husband, father, grandfather, are bound up in their capacity to do things. Make such a man weak and helpless and you destroy him.
In just a few hours, Lord willing, Randa and I will be conducting the funeral for such a man.
Doyle was ninety years old and worn thin and weak. He died last week, just the next night after Randa and I last visited him while he was watching the Royals lose yet another game in this season of losses. He didn’t talk much but was alert and coherent. I was surprised but not shocked when his son, Brian, called me Friday morning to let me know his Dad had passed away on Thursday night.
Doyle’s wife was nearly as worn down as he was from the constant work and worry of caring for him. That burden has been lifted and now the challenge of loneliness and survival faces her. To have shared life for sixty-eight years together leaves a large hole when this passing comes and one must go before the other.
Yet, neither Pauline nor the children or grandchildren would call him back into this body of decay, this prison of anguish and pain. This body is not the substance of our immortality but is rather its seed. And no seed can bear its fruit until it has been planted. While there is always some sadness in this planting, even in times of such welcomed release, we know that we sow in hope of the indescribable joy of harvest.