Our two-bedroom farmhouse lays claim to a lot of firsts. The first farm my farmer purchased as a young grower. The first home he and I shared after we said, “I do.” The first house where we brought home our two oldest children after they were born and where they took their first steps.
We shared a lot of special memories in the simplicity of that 900-square foot home with no hallways, rather one room connected to another with enough space in the laundry room to squeeze a twin-size bed for company or in-laws. With my farmer’s barn next to the house, I could step out of my toddler world and into to his for a brief moment, leaving wondering who had the greater challenge, him solving farming issues or me raising Littles!
I loved summers on the farm. We’d have a half-circle of corn planted steps away from our back door. The kids would play in the mud and sit in the shade of the tall green stalks. I looked forward to daily, half-mile strolls to the northeast corner where the mailbox stood, if it hadn’t been plowed over by a tractor pulling an implement the day before. As we would make our way down the dirt road, my oldest would be steps ahead of me, my son in the stroller along with our two dogs and a cat in tow.
That farm has a special place in my heart but it had significance long before we started making memories there. Prior to my farmer purchasing what we refer to as our “Home Place,” the Henry Perez family called that farm home for many years. It was there, that Henry’s sons first learned to farm, start well motors and to drive. It was in that same barn, where the Perez boys, their father and a friend, overhauled a 1970 F100 pickup that each of the boys would drive throughout high school— a pickup they still own today. It’s a farmhouse where every Fourth of July, a pig could be heard squealing in the wee hours of the morning prior to a day-long celebration that ended with the loud popping of fireworks.
But this month, after 50 years of farming, Henry Perez went home to be with the Lord. Prior to laying him to rest, the boys had one last request of that Home Place— some soil to lay on his grave. So as his family and friends gathered to say one last goodbye, his grave was sprinkled with soil from a place of significant firsts and lifetime of memories, a place he had toiled and loved, land he had used to support his family and make his boys into men. He will be missed.