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Roy Smith: Time flies

Ten years ago this week, I wrote what turned out to be the most popular column of my writing career. It was published in the mid-February 2001 issue of Successful Farming. It was entitled “The Kitchen Window”. I remember the circumstances behind writing that “feel good” piece. It was during probably the most trying period in my life. I hoped that putting the thoughts on paper would be good therapy for my negative psychological condition.

The year 2000 was tough. My mother passed away in June. The last of the Smith uncles followed in October. In November my grandson was born several weeks early and weighing only three pounds. He had numerous health problems. Surgery at five days of age to correct internal plumbing problems was supposed to be only the beginning of his struggle in solving health problems resulting from being born so early.

In dealing with the stresses of all of the problems mentioned in the article, I found myself drawn to the window above my kitchen sink that looks out over our farmstead. I found it refreshing to view the layout that was initially planned by the pioneers who homesteaded the farm and is still in use today. Buildings that have been there 135 years gave a feeling of permanence when things seem to be going all wrong in my life.

Several years ago I did a motivational speech entitled “The Best Things in Life are Temporary”.

One of my theories was that the importance of any single event is seldom as great as it seems at the time. In other words, “Don’t sweat the small stuff”. That principle is difficult to follow when problems are hitting you from all directions and there seems to be no end of trouble. 

It certainly proved to be a good maxim in this case, however.

The grandson who struggled so bravely in his first year recently celebrated his tenth birthday. His surgery as an infant proved to be successful beyond all of our expectations. His body healed itself so that more surgery was not necessary. He is a normal ten year old boy in every way. I especially enjoy watching him play baseball. He will probably never be a polished athlete but he sure has a good time.

The toddler that had a handful of pancake in the 2001 Successful Farming picture is now eleven years old. She is only three inches shorter than her grandmother. She may be even taller than that today because I haven’t seen her in more than a week! We now have two more granddaughters. The one in Lincoln is just a year younger than her male cousin. Our daughter and son-in-law brought the youngest one into our family from China.  

Both Sharon and I now enjoy being “almost retired”. I still farm my 216 acres of row crops. She is on call at the school to fill in as a substitute teacher. Outside activities have not changed much. We see the grandkids every weekend. Both families are nearby.  It is a blessing to have them close.

We are fortunate that our health is generally good. We both have had the usual problems with age related issues. I struggle with a hearing disability. Contrary to most farmers my age, it was caused by an inner ear infection, not tractor exhaust noise. I have learned that some things, like aches and pains, are best ignored. Other conditions, like a fever over 100 degrees, need prompt attention.

Even the featured kitchen window has evolved somewhat. Several years ago I undertook the job of replacing the windows in our house, one at a time. The kitchen window was replaced in 2007. The view has not changed a lot except that the walnut trees are ten years older. They are probably ten feet taller as well. The window itself is much more energy efficient, so standing at the sink and looking out is more comfortable on cold winter days when the wind is in the north.

Our retirement plans have not changed a lot. We do not enjoy long trips as much as we once did. We now are more inclined to take mini vacations to such exotic places as Wichita or Cleveland. We still have no plans to move south for the winter, or even into town. That attitude might change if we get another winter like 2009-2010. For now, I have no plans to give up my miniature farming operation. In the back of my mind I must keep open the possibility that some day I will not be able to handle it any more.

The experience with our grandson taught us to believe in miracles. Sometimes it felt like faith was the only thing that kept us going when the situation seemed so dark. The theory that in a crisis things are seldom as bad as they seem has proved to be true in our lives. Our focus this Thanksgiving is another famous saying “Time flies when you are having fun”. We have had a lot good times in the last ten years. May they continue!  

Happy Thanksgiving from Soyroy!

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