Uncle Paul died last week. His obituary summarized his life succinctly--after he finished his time in the Army, he came home and farmed. Farming wasn't just what he did for a living; it defined who he was. Farming to Uncle Paul was more than raising crops--it was raising crops well, raising livestock back in a day when tending livestock required a personal relationship with a scoop shovel, and most importantly, raising a family. Farming and family were one and the same to Uncle Paul. All the values that made his farm successful--hard work, love, discipline--also produced a successful family.
His funeral was a farmer's funeral. The funeral home was packed with farm folk with sunburned faces and pale foreheads, standing in line for an hour or more to pay respects, taking softly while they waited about crop prices and how much rain they got the day before. The kind of stuff that Uncle Paul liked to talk about.
It's too bad Uncle Paul missed it. He would have enjoyed visiting with all the folks who showed up at the visitation and funeral, and he would have been unspeakably proud of the six solemn, burly grandsons who carried his coffin.
But, knowing Uncle Paul, he would also have grumbled good-naturedly about the way they did it. There were two ways to farm and raise a family--the wrong way, and Uncle Paul's way. Stubborn, proud, honest, caring, hard-working, with a wry sense of humor and a loving family that misses him immensely.
Not a bad legacy for an Iowa farmer. Rest In Peace, Paul Mickelson.