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Unexpected Gifts

Agriculture.com Staff 07/06/2010 @ 5:15pm

Life is about the journey, not the destination. All too often, after reaching one milestone, we hurry on to the next mile marker. We fail to enjoy the reflection in our rearview mirrors.

I invite you to linger with me for a moment to savor a few souvenirs of my landscape in 2009.

Gerald Younker responded to my May-June column about the Rock-Kee Ridge Union 4-H club's commitment to decorate a roadside tree.

Younker, a truck driver from Independence, Iowa, wrote, "I travel Highway 20 several times a month. I have wondered over the last five years about the lighted tree. Your article answered my question.

"This lighted tree is my beacon of light on my trip west to Sioux City at night," he added. "The youth of our country are the foundation of it. This 4-H project shows they'll keep our country strong."

He enclosed a donation for the 4-H club to keep the tree lit.

Dwight Stubblefield (pictured at right), Tullahoma, Tennessee, reported that response to my December 2008 column about his efforts to provide free Boost and Ensure to cancer patients helped him donate 65,800 bottles, or 4,112 gallons to 36 clinics in 2009. Stubblefield, 81, urges others to work with their own area clinics.

Doug George of Loveland, Colorado, keeps in touch about local efforts to donate produce. He delivers produce to the House of Neighborly Service (HNS) in Loveland. The HNS received 11,588 pounds from Plant-a-Row participants in 2009.

George, 86, picks up farmer's market donations from Green Thumb Farms of Ft. Morgan and Miller Farms near Platteville.

Last year, the Millers gave away produce to an estimated 40,000 people. After a devastating hailstorm in July, they received an outpouring of monetary donations and help with replanting.

Readers' 2009 personal triumphs also were gratifying. I laughed at an update from Janet Dart, Oblong, Illinois, reminding me of a 1998 column about keeping photo albums current.

"I finally got to my photo albums in October 2008," she wrote. She developed her own system, starting with Christmas photos. Then she tackled the remaining photos -- from the last 50 years.

Dart persevered, enclosing a photo displaying her stack of 48 albums.

"I'm so proud of myself for sticking to this job and getting it done," she wrote. "Now I'll start separating and labeling boxes of clippings about the grandkids. They can make their own scrapbooks."

I'm proud of Dart, too. She gives me new hope for my photo albums in 2010.

It was a joy to hear from Leroy Hodge of Hamil, South Dakota. A viral infection in 1991 left only one hope for the 57-year-old: a heart transplant.

Six months after his name was placed on a transplant list, he received a notice from National Casualty Insurance canceling his health policy. He mortgaged a quarter of his land, and friends (and readers of this magazine) donated to a Friends of Leroy medical expense fund.

He had the operation and returned home six months after receiving the heart of a 28-year-old man who had been fatally injured in a collision.

Hodge wrote, "It's been 16 years since my heart transplant. We still live on the farm, and I keep busy. My heart is doing real well, but my left hip is wearing out and needs repair."

He added, "Someone I never met gave me the greatest gift of all -- a second chance at life."

Isn't that what the holiday season is all about? Let's celebrate all our gifts -- great and small -- in the coming year.

Life is about the journey, not the destination. All too often, after reaching one milestone, we hurry on to the next mile marker. We fail to enjoy the reflection in our rearview mirrors.

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