He was the little boy whose brown eyes could melt hearts.
I remember describing him to my friends as the most adorable, solemn boy. His deeply brown eyes, the only dark eyes in a family filled with blue-eyed children, peered out at the world as he quietly sucked his thumb. He was so serious as a toddler that no one would foresee the fun and orneriness that simmered, just waiting to bloom in a very big way. When I think of him, I recall a tiny little boy who seemed smaller than the rest, a tyke who watched everything carefully.
I took him to his first big screen movie, a Disney classic, and as I enjoyed the animation reflected in his eyes, I felt that happy pang of making a memorable moment, something he would remember all his life. When the movie was over, this little boy popped his thumb from his mouth, looked me square in the eye and said, “That was dumb.” I laughed out loud at his serious candor, and realized how blessed I was to know this little guy.
He was glad to get back home to his toy tractors that day, kicking off the clothes he had worn to the movie theater in exchange for Superman underwear and moon boots. That’s it, that’s all, the whole get-up. I asked why he always wore those puffy moon boots. He took his thumb from his mouth long enough to say, “I yike them.” End of story.
A few years went by. While the other kids were playing video games, he lived his life around the farm of his own creation. Big things happened in that little world. The spring that he was about to turn 6, I asked him what his birthday wishes involved. “Well, everybody knows I need a corn planter,” he said, seriously, as though it were common knowledge all around the world. As he looked over his mighty little miniature farm world, he added, “Nobody has a farm without a corn planter. Well, except for me. That’s all I am wishing for.”
On the way to church one frosty morning, his mama — my sister — lost control of the family car on an icy country road. The car went sliding off of the road and across a private lawn, jostling and bumping the kids around quite a bit. As soon as the car came to a stop, my sister said, “Is everybody OK?” The kids answered they were fine, except for Bub, who said, “Let’s not do that again. Not ever.”
As he worked his way through his school years, he grew taller than most of the other kids and he smiled much more than he was serious.
One thing that never changed was his love of farming. It was evident that he found sitting at a desk, taking tests and answering questions almost unbearable. The older he became, the more his ornery side surfaced. To this day, new teachers are told stories that revolve around some of his most priceless practical jokes. He has reached a high place of infamy. Those brown eyes sparkle when told that he has done us proud.
It seemed everything stopped when I heard the news that our Bub was injured on his way to work one morning recently. All I heard at first is that a large deer ran out in front of him and he had been transported to the hospital. Then the horrid realization hit me as I looked toward the east from our farm to Bub’s farm — he was not driving his pick-up truck, but his motorcycle. I heard the large deer was killed on impact. My heart raced as I headed to the hospital.
I learned later that he was thrown over a guardrail and down in to a ravine, unconscious, face-down, injured. A kind woman passing by noticed the motorcycle off of the road and investigated.
God bless good people who care enough to pay attention and get involved. She called for a squad, and stayed with Bub, talking with him as he regained consciousness and fought pain, waiting for help. A gurney would have to be lowered from the road by volunteers to rescue him, proving to be a long, tough process.
His injuries will take months to heal, but seeing him smile and those eyes twinkle as he tells a joke or two on himself is worth a million.
Now it’s our turn to say, “Let’s not do that again. Not ever.”