Today I went to the calling hours for Charlie Watkins. He passed away unexpectedly at the age of 36. I knew him from working on my family’s farm as I was growing up. He leaves behind a 3 year old daughter and wife who is the same age as me. While I don’t know her well I remember first meeting her in 4-H, in the steer barn at the fair I believe, long before she and Charlie knew each other.
My dad shared a memory that he had of Charlie. He called him “Charlie Horse” because he was a tall, big, strong boy which made him good at manual labor on the farm. We used to have nursery pig pens at the end of the farrowing house (maternity ward). When it was weaning time we had a few nursery pens at the end of the barn where the pigs would grow a little longer before moving out to a finishing barn. These pens were raised a few feet off the ground. So I remember my mom often climbing in the pens, catching the pigs and lifting them over the top of the gates and handing them out to others. My dad and the other men would carry one pig in each hand by their back leg (that’s really the correct way to carry a pig). I remember growing to be big enough to carry one, then struggling to try and keep up with two pigs. It wasn’t very long after that we built an entire nursery barn which was much more modern and had better equipment.
Since the pens were already a few feet off the ground and the gates were a couple feet higher the pigs were handed out four or five feet up. My dad said Charlie took a pig in each hand and carried at the same height where they were handed to him. So his hands were closer to his chin than hips. The rest of us carried the pigs with our arms stretched straight down (and for a particular little girl that was a challenge). But, he was stout and carried the pigs up high easily like weights, at least at first.
I remember Charlie always being friendly, smiling and working hard. While we’re reminiscing, I also remember being small enough (before Charlie helped) that I thought some of the pig pens were like twenty feet high!
I’ve been praying for their family and I will continue to do so. Prayer changes things. I’ve lived that.
I offered to talk to his wife if she would like down the road. You might wonder what I’ll tell her. Here’s a little of the stuff that I want her to know, eventually. For a while after my husband passed away people did a great job of being there, bringing dinner, taking care of everything that I needed. Then came the slow transition to independence. I’m undeniably type A on the personality scale, organized, to-do lists litter my house. If people promised to come over I wrote it down on my calendar. I remember a particular evening when my calendar was empty. I remember driving home from work, being almost home and recalling the empty calendar. I remember feeling like I was going to completely break inside, like a sheet of glass shattered in little pieces on the ground. I remember thinking but what will I eat, how will I take care of Henry, I don’t have ANY energy left for even basic survival. Within seconds my cell phone rang, “Hi Jen this is Paula. I’m about to run through Wendy’s on my way over what can I bring you?”
I remember a friend brought me a couple grocery bags of baby supplies and stuff to the funeral home. I remember looking through it thinking I don’t even use some of this, but I put it aside for later. Wouldn’t you know several weeks later the Little infant Farmer was really constipated and a doctor recommended a special kind of cereal. Wouldn’t you know that special cereal that I had never used was in those bags.
I needed flexible, affordable childcare. Wouldn’t you know multiple people have come forward and helped provide for our needs over the past five years.
People that have spent much time with me can attest to the fact that I have lots of needs. The people that I work with might really offer some sarcastic examples at this point. All jokes aside the bottom line is God has provided for my every need. God has given me the strength and energy to do the things that I have needed to do, for myself and my son. Of course I’ve wanted more strength and energy, to do things that I want to do. Wants and needs are different and God has provided for me what I need in His eyes. It has forced me to focus, prioritize and cut out some fat. I hope all of this has enabled me to play a stronger role in His bigger plan. And I think that’s what will matter most when I face my final day on earth.
And a few or several months down the road after she’s had a chance to heal I’ll suggest she read Heaven. I read that down the road when I couldn’t sleep and I got a lot from it. I also read the Bible late at night when I couldn’t sleep, and I pray.
Almost 50% of married people will loose a spouse at sometime. Now that we have that in common I hope I can help. And if we do we’ll talk about a lot more stuff I wouldn’t write here.
I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord In the land of the living. Psalm 27:13 NASB