Every time I walk the land on my family’s farm, I feel George’s impact. I never knew him, but I did know his son, George Early (my mom and I called him GE). Hard work, love, and planning help in growing successful crops. Soil conditions have to be right to be bountiful. Mother Nature can make or break crops. If a bad storm comes through, those crops can be at risk. There are many different stress factors to be considered. Most of my family on my mother’s side have all been farmers. George worked the land along with his siblings. I wish I had the privilege of knowing him.
My great-grandfather built many of the outside buildings that are used today on the farm. We have a milkhouse, smokehouse, granary, and meat house. It’s still standing but not used for what they were previously. They are now used to store miscellaneous items that wouldn’t go for anything on the secondary market but are useful. There are items like old blankets to gather up leaves, rakes that are missing a lot of the metal are part of those items, but they still work at getting debris out of the way. As long as elbow grease is applied, the materials work the way they should. George loved the granary. He spent a lot of time there.
Eventually, he left and started his family. GE was his only child. I learned later that George’s wife was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and she killed herself due to her mental illness. When I was a baby, my parents said that I talked to George all the time. I named a play horse Georgie. GE was alive while I was growing up. George was someone I never met, and yet I felt a strong connection.
I’ve always had a sensitive spirit. Sometimes I feel things that others don’t understand. I don’t comprehend why I’m able to obtain those feelings. I guess it’s a gift and a curse. George was loyal and hot-headed. I think that’s a trait that runs on both sides of my family. He never backed down from what he believed, and the death of his wife tremendously affected him. He raised GE, and GE turned out to be a rebel and womanizer. George wasn’t that way from everything I’ve learned. I never have seen him except in pictures but for some reason, I feel his spirit near me. In many ways, I feel like he’s a guardian to me. George was a one-woman man and didn’t believe in changing women as much as he changed socks. The early 1900s were conservative. His son GE, didn’t share that sentiment.
With six days remaining until Christmas, my family’s history is becoming more important to me. George left behind woodwork that my mom and I use to this day. His craftsmanship was exquisite. What impresses me most is his writings he left behind. He would speak of life on the land, and why he longed for the city. He spoke of his love for his family, and why he was afraid he’d never escape his responsibilities on the farm. Farmers are the heart of the earth. Without them, we wouldn’t have a bounty of foods to choose from. Their connection to the land makes them just as needed as the corporate CEO’s. The work farmers do may require getting their hands dirty, but what they produce is golden. George never became a rich and powerful man. Yet, his work will live on for generations. There is little doubt that pride and love went into everything he constructed. I use his workbench to help fix flowers for graves and other projects on the farm. I walk the untouched land and recognize the rarity of this. While the farm has become a solar farm, I recognize the blood, sweat, and tears that toiled the land. Every member of my family played a part in its sustainability.
George’s impact is felt through stories and the articles he left behind. While I may never get to see him, there is a part of me that is humbled by the ability to use the items he created. Love, heart, pride, and time went into his woodworking. For that, I am appreciative of what he left for others to enjoy. There are George’s all over the world that impact us. The names may not be the same but the heart of their stories are similar. If you have anything that has been passed down, cherish it. If you don’t, you may think about creating something to leave behind. We all matter. Our roots matter. We may not approve of the behavior that others exhibit, but people of all walks of life leave impressions that last a lifetime.