My grandfather had a small farm where he raised beef
and some grain for feed. He also worked diligently as a
factory laborer and country pastor. He was a good neighbor
and well respected for honoring his word.
When harvest-time came, he'd piece together his old
one-row corn picker and oil it up for the season. He
pulled it behind a little Ford 9-N tractor with a wagon
hooked on the back. It was a noisy contraption unlike the
modern machines you see these days devouring the golden
armies of grain in wide gulps.
His whole operation was like that. Basic. In fact,
his life was like that, too. He worked hard, helped others
and you could count on him to keep his promises. That's
what made it so hard one autumn when difficult
circumstances closed in on him.
He had promised to harvest a few ribbons of corn that
wound around the hills on a friend's farm, but after
harvesting his own corn, Grandpa's little corn picker
coughed, sputtered and quit. It would be out of commission
until a particular part could be ordered, but that would
take far too long to help this year. Then the odds of
being able to help out his neighbor got even worse; the
factory where grandpa worked began to require overtime. In
order to keep his job there he had to leave the farm before
dawn and didn't get home until well after sunset.
One autumn night, while harvest time was running out,
he and his wife sat at the kitchen table sipping bitter
black coffee trying to figure a way out of their dilemma.
"There's nothing you can do," said my grandma.
"You'll just have to tell him that you can't help with the
corn this year."
"Well that just doesn't sit well with me," said my
grandpa. "My friend is depending on me. I can't exactly
let my neighbor's harvest rot in the field, can I?"
"If you don't have the equipment, you just can't do
it," she said.
"Well, I could do it the way we used to do it. I
could harvest it by hand," he said.
"When do you think you'd have time to do it?" she
asked. "With the overtime you've been working you'd be up
all night...besides it'd be too dark."
"I know one night that I could do it!" he said running
to the bookshelf. He grabbed the Farmer's Almanac and
started flipping through the pages until he found what he
was looking for. "Aha! There's still one more full moon
in October." As it happened, the harvest moon had yet to
pass. They say it's called the harvest moon because it
gives farmers more light and more time to collect their
crops. "If the Lord gives us clear weather, I think I can
do it," he said.
And so a few days later, after a long shift at the
factory, my grandpa made his way to the field where my
grandma met him in the truck with dinner and a steaming
thermos of strong, black coffee. The weather was cold but
clear, and the moon was brilliant. He worked through the
night to keep his word.
I know this story well, because I've spent hours on
that old tractor's fender talking with my grandpa. We've
even suffered through some of that same bitter coffee
together. I'm proud to say that my parents named me after
Sometimes, when I'm tempted to cut corners or to put
off responsibilities, I think of my grandfather with his
scythe cutting wide arcs of corn in the light of the
harvest moon. I hear the ears of corn hit the floor of the
wagon and the music of geese crossing the cold October sky.
The chill autumn morning darkness envelopes my mind and I
see my grandpa, his work finally done, crawling into the
seat of the old tractor and making his way home. Behind
him in the pale moonlight, row after row of corn shocks
stand at attention in respect for a man who keeps his word.
Reprinted by permission of Kenneth L. Pierpont © 2000
from Chicken Soup for the Grandparent's Soul by Jack
Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Hanoch McCarty and Meladee McCarty.
[ By Kenneth L. Pierpont -- from Karen Blevins (firstname.lastname@example.org), via 'Sermon_Fodder' ]
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