Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Life and Times of a Prairie Farmer

Curt Watson was first a Christian husband, dad and granddad.  He was a farmer and agricultural leader second; and he was in all ways an innovator. 

Innovators and leaders pay a price for their gift.  Change comes easy to innovators but to most of society, change comes hard; innovators are viewed with suspicion coupled with grudging respect;   suspicion because ‘why do we have to change anything?’ Respect for daring to be different and being willing to pay the price for their beliefs and ideas.

Curt was a big man; big hands, big smile, big joy and big dreams.  He was a visionary, a natural leader who had a quick wit, quick analytical skills along with a confidence to express them.  I believe Curt felt like there was not a problem too big or complicated that could not be solved without pluck hard work, dedication, creativity and God’s help.

Curt lived with passion; a passion for life and a passion to love his wife and family.  He lived with a passion to teach his children and grandchildren the life lessons, and values needed to survive in a rapidly changing internationally competitive world.  He functioned on a national stage but that did not compare with holding one of his grandchildren or listening to his wife Janel play the squeeze box or singing with friends in an empty grain bin.  In the unexpected end, he was a man of the soil, a gifted man who loved the simple things of life.

The funeral was held in Renville, Minnesota at Emden Christian Reformed Church.  Burial was at the Church cemetery located about 8 miles northwest of town.  The drive to the cemetery detoured past the Watson family farm.  As the funeral procession approached the farm site, we noticed two combines on their farm yard proudly displaying American flags.  Curt was a former Marine, a fitting tribute to his military service and his chosen lifelong profession.  The hearse and the family cars drove through the farmstead while the rest of the procession waited on the road.  It was then that we noticed the dog.  The family dog followed the hearse through the farm yard and as the hearse turned north to the cemetery, the dog valiantly pursued the hearse in a losing battle.  When we drove by, he was standing in the ditch with a look of forlorn loneliness and confusion.  The dog was faithful to the end…he tried to keep up but he could not.

For Curt’s wife and family there will be lonely and some trying days ahead but they have hope.  The loss hurts, will hurt some more, but despite the sadness, Curt is with Christ.  That is great for Curt but hard for his dear family and those he left behind.

As spring season approaches, farmers become antsy; they can’t wait to get into the fields.  When farmers smell the warming earth, something visceral occurs.  It’s time for the beginning of a new crop year, a new campaign as it were, but this year Curt cannot answer the call.  His wife and his sons, daughters and in-laws and employees will answer the call in his stead.

Life goes on whether we like it or not.  Let’s value each day of life we have…the cycle of prairie life continues.  The sad part is, Curt won’t be with them but his memory and impact will linger.

Curt was buried on a slight rise on the prairie he loved and worked.  We all stood in silence.  We remembered, but it hurt.  Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.  1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

Pray for his family.  Blessed be the memory of Curt Watson.

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