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This really gonna hurt

Agriculture.com Staff 02/12/2016 @ 6:30pm

The thing about living in a place long enough is that after a while you can't go anywhere or meet anyone without having a story pop into your head.

This past week I've been thinking about fatherhood, what with the whole Father's Day thing, and I was reminded of a story told to me by an old friend, who has now passed away. About 30 years have gone by since it happened, so I might get some of the details wrong, but parts of it are still very fresh in my memory.

He and his son were moving equipment between farms. The boy was very young, but it's not uncommon in farm country to see a child handling big equipment -- a child who would barely be allowed to walk to the bus stop unaccompanied if he lived in the city. As they headed out, the father took the lead position. After a bit, he glanced in the rear view mirror and saw a cloud of dust and the upturned wheels of the tractor spinning. He slid to a halt and ran back.

What he saw was enough to make his heart stop. His son was pinned under the tractor, gasoline was spilling everywhere, and the ignition system was sputtering and sparking. There was no time for anything else; even in hindsight it's hard to think of what else he could have done. With one sweep of his work-hardened paw, he obliterated the ignition system, smothering the sparks with his bare hands.

"Slick and clean," he said, when he told me about it. "I took it out of there slick and clean." The marks were still on his hands when I heard the story, but as a father myself, I have no doubt there were other marks he carried the rest of his life, long after his hands had healed.

It's funny how your mind works -- okay, it's funny how my mind works. When I started writing this, what popped into my head was a scene from the movie George of the Jungle. Have you seen it? It's a goofy comedy about a Tarzan wannabe who swings from vines, but always runs face-first into trees.

In the big finale, George has to jump on a giant vine, swing across a valley and crash purposely into a tree to knock it over, all so he can rescue the love of his life. (It sorta makes sense in the movie.) As he's swinging toward the tree, heading for supersonic speed, he turns to the camera and says, "This really gonna hurt."

There's a lot of that in fatherhood, but that's okay. For anything worth having, there's a price. When my friend skidded to a halt next to the tractor and saw what he had to do, the thought that was uppermost in his mind was "slick and clean, gotta take it out of there slick and clean." I don’t know if he had time to think about how much it was going to hurt. It would have been only human to give a little cringe, but if he did, it didn’t slow him down.

In life, it's important to remember that what matters isn't how much you pay. What matters is what you get in return.

Copyright 2007 Brent Olson

The thing about living in a place long enough is that after a while you can't go anywhere or meet anyone without having a story pop into your head.

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