Four years ago tonight I was pregnant and twelve days overdue.  The baby daddy and I had wrapped up loose ends, avoided starting new projects and prepared to leave for the hospital at a moment’s notice multiple times.  It was a Wednesday evening. 

Labor started.  I called Mark to tell him.  There was a pause, and then he responded, clearly in the middle of lengthy task, “This is not a good time for me, I’m trying to feed the cows.”

I’m writing to share this special memory, hopefully a laugh, and to share a lesson I’ve observed many times.  I believe that the core of who we really are comes out in quick, unplanned responses.  There’s no arguing Mark cared about family, but he also took the responsibility to care for his cows as a farmer very seriously, thus his response. 

That was the first unpolished, candid thought that rolled off his lips as I’m sure the rest of his body was in motion working.  He was probably using a pitch fork to move silage (shredded up corn used as feed), carrying buckets of kernels of corn or ground feed, counting calves, moving bales of hay or shaking up straw to give them a warm, dry place to lay down.  These were daily tasks for him.  He was so comfortable and familiar with the responsibility that without question it defined a big part of who he was.  That’s typical of most all of the farmers I’ve met.

The next morning I remember being at the hospital (still in labor) and his phone was ringing about one of his heifers that was also in labor trying to have a calf.  She was having trouble.  I remember my mom having a kid versus calf talk with him.

Now I think his first response to my call is really funny.  I’ll also say that in his short time on earth with his son he clearly cared very deeply for the kid. 

What we do and how we act each day shapes who we are.  I’m proud that Mark was a person, father, husband and farmer who deeply cared.