The Farm

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Man. This is heartbreaking to write. and even more heartbreaking to realize that I don’t have many pictures of such an amazing place…

February of 2010 my grandpa passed away. From there, my grandma’s health has declined to the point where she is in assisted living, about an hour away from the farm they bought around 50 years ago.

I have pretty amazing memories from the farm. I knew that dirt road the second we turned onto it – my dad would fly up and down the dips in the road, sending a rush of adrenaline through both my brother and I for a split second as we felt the car suspended momentarily in air. Early in life, I knew it as a place where I knew a homemade cherry pie (amongst others) would be waiting for me. I would sit on my grandpa’s lap while he drove me around on the good ol’ John Deere, and I knew that night we would be chasing lightning bugs until we passed out. We ran around, sticky with sweat from the warm Missouri air, picking bark off the Bullet Tree until we were corralled into the house to eat a five course meal Grandma had somehow prepared out of thin air. I would eat my way through the sweet corn fields, drowning each ear in butter, sprinkling them with salt and pepper just like how my Grandpa showed me – to this day I will eat my corn that way, yet it’ll never taste like how it did on the Farm.

Fourth of July on the Farm? Holy Moses, I’ll never forget that. One summer, my parents spent about $600 buying fireworks in Illinois, and it took us about four nights of hour long fireworks shows to go through them all. The Farm was also a Mecca for family reunions. I would painstakingly wait while we drove the mile and a half down that dirt road, eager to see everyone; ecstatic when I recognized the RVs, cars and campers in the makeshift driveway, knowing I would have cousins, uncles and aunts to play with for days on end.

In my teens, I found a happy balance there between appreciating the quiet times at the farm, mixed in with a healthy dose of reliving my childhood. I would show the ‘new’ kids how to catch bugs, snatch frogs up without having them pee on you. I would sit on the front porch swing and take in the day, and I even went to church with my grandparents (secretly I think my Grandma was trying to set me up with the preacher’s son). To this day I still think Grandpa just focused on the brunch part of church, but I’ll never know. Winking smile 

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I would run the dirt road numerous times, only to return drenched in sweat, prompting my Grandma to ask if I was ok, and shaking her head as to why ‘anyone would go that far on purpose’. It wasn’t until a few runs later that my Grandpa offered to drive behind me with a shotgun “in case of them coyotes” – pronounced, “kai-yotes”.

As an adult, I can safely say that I took advantage of every second I had on that farm. I’ve never admitted this to anyone, but 99.9% of the times that I meditate, I’m on the Farm. I’m on my yoga mat, on their front deck, sitting in the breeze and hearing the random bugs. I swear at times I can smell the mustiness of my Grandparent’s home, or hear the creaking in the floor – it was especially bad walking from the guest room to the bathroom, but comforting in a way.

Sadly, my last trip to the farm was also one of the last times I saw my brother. It was definitely a happy reunion, one that only a few family members could make because it was last minute. We both put on our uniforms and took pictures, both ‘in all seriousness’ and goofing off, in true Stiles form. It was a very short visit; we had ‘life’ to get back too, and Jon had military ‘what nots’ to take care of. Fortunately, I was able to see him just a few weeks later, but again – another memory on the farm.

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I’ll always remember the little things about the farm – the way the barn smelled, the knick-knacks my Grandma had in the kitchen, the hat rack right inside the front door, the oil lamps in the bedroom, and of course Grandpa’s couch and his affinity for trains.

I hope to never, ever forget these memories. From what I understand, the neighboring family bought the farm, and they intend to fix up the house. So, not all hope is lost.

My only regret is that my children won’t get to visit it how I did.

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13 thoughts on “The Farm

  1. I loved this post. It took me back in time to when I got to go to my grandma and grandpa’s farm in Nevada. Thank you for sharing your memories.

  2. OMG. I have the same 4th of July memories from my grandparents farm in Southern Ohio. Every 4th of July for 4-5 days family and friends would come from everywhere and camp (and drink beer, roast pigs, watch the MOST amazing firework displays by my uncles…nothing today compares!) And even the oil lamps in the bedrooms! I remember when it was sold. Very sad indeed.

  3. So poignant…

    Farms are so awesome for kids :) Maybe the new owners would allow your children to stop by and let you show them around a little when they are a little bigger. Amazing memories… I do hope you find a way to share them :)

  4. You are the most amazing story teller. It is 5:30 am here in DC, I sit here reading this with tears dripping into my coffee. I did not know you lost your brother and grandmother. I am so deeply sorry Natalie. I love the picture of you and your brother on your beloved farm. I sense your sadness and I am moved to the core by it. Your Grandmother and Brother are with you. Their angel wings cover you with protection and your Grandpa is chasing those damn coyotes away with his shot gun. I hope you are able to someday visit the farm again, but you have your beautiful memories, no one can take those from you. Your daughter and son have a beautiful Momma who will sit them on her lap and re-tell the stories of the Farm..keep that place alive.. perhaps turn it into a book? So grateful that you shared your story.xo

  5. My dad’s side of the family were farmers in PA and I often sensed his loss of all the farm land as we were growing up… my grandparents were no longer living on the farm, but my dad tried to re-create it in many ways (huge garden, chickens, cats, dogs, etc) and a huge yard to run around and play. So far, my daughter’s been growing up in a more urban setting, and I’m sad that she won’t have those same childhood experiences… what beautiful memories you have! You captured them so well in this post.

  6. oh i can relate. my father in law had a coffee farm in hawaii like that. It was our sanctuary. It is where we had our rehearsal dinner and after party. It was close to my heart. KEep those memories. I know you will!

  7. I’m so proud of you Micki! I’ve always told you that I love the way you write! Today, this special story is also an acknoledgment of a bit of history for our family’s present and future generations. I know that one day we will go back and you will show your little ones this special place. Love you preciosa!

  8. Your last two posts were beautiful and nostalgic.. loved them. That dirt road could have been the dirt road leading from my grandparents’ farm house. Sadly, most of my memories exist in my mind as they moved to town more than 10 years ago… I want to drive by and go back one more time but just haven’t. They had this amazing redwood deck that the current owners painted BLUE. I think they’re out of their minds! Anyway, glad to hear you’re still running and I wish you the best of health for the remaining weeks!! :)

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