His story almost ended before it had a chance to begin. There is a small black and white photograph that served as a reminder, tucked in to the oldest photo albums of the many that were created over a happy life.
In this picture, a very simple-looking, bare-bones tractor lies tipped over, lying in water. Once in awhile, after he had witnessed a near-accident with one of us just learning to operate a tractor, Dad would instruct us to find that picture. We all would be invited to sit around the table while he told what had happened to him, and how lucky he was to be alive.
He was mowing with a sickle-bar mower, as many farmers did at that time, cutting back the banks near the creek that ran through his boyhood farm. He headed for the narrow stone path that he had earlier created to cross from one side of the farm to the other. Slightly distracted by the quick motion of wildlife nearby, he took his attention off of his work for a split second.
The next thing he knew, the tractor was tipping over into the creek. He always credited the sickle bar with saving him from a complete rollover, which very easily could have trapped him in enough water to have caused drowning.
No one ever plans to have a farm accident. My father constantly talked farm safety with us. I wasn’t very old when Dad gave me a stern talking-to about staying clear of the power-take-off shaft.
He brought up names of several people in the community we both knew well who had been injured in the blink of an eye. He then told me stories of people I would never know because they didn’t live to tell about it. Too often, we choose not to talk about it.
An accident humbles us, but it also brings a stab of wounded pride. Talking through each step, pointing out what went gloriously right or horribly wrong helps everyone maintain a safer existence. Along life’s way, you just might help someone avoid disaster, simply by sharing your own farm stories.