Monday, April 18, 2011

Life sucks, and then . . .

Life sucks, and then you drag yourself up, dust yourself off and take a step forward like you mean it. Like you really mean to keep right on living in spite of everything. All of us have this happen numerous times during our lives.

For me, it happened once again just about 2 weeks ago. No doubt, ranching is dangerous work - big equipment, big animals, and big spaces make for big risks. Ross and I always work with safety in mind, but this one day doing a chore we do every day all winter, we lost sight of each other. The spring snow was very thick and visibility was only a few feet. Ross thought I was on the hay wagon. I thought Ross was in the tractor. So, I hopped off the hay wagon and walked between the wagon and the tractor to connect them by putting the pin in the tongue. Like I've done a million times.

But Ross wasn't in the tractor. He was driving the truck and trailer forward to get them out of the road. What he couldn't see was that the trailer caught on some of the bales on the hay wagon and pulled the wagon forward with it. When I realized the hay wagon was coming toward me, I tried to get out of the way. But I wasn't fast enough. Just as I was getting clear, the hay wagon hit my hip and pinned me against the tractor's 3-point.

As I felt the 3-point push into my pelvis, I screamed for Ross. He heard me and immediately thought that somehow some bales of hay had fallen on me. It only took him a few seconds to find me where I was being crushed by the heavy equipment. He jumped in the tractor and moved it forward. I fell to the ground.

The pressure had crushed the soft tissue in my pelvis and broken a piece of the bone off the top. Ross was trying to help me and determine how I was hurt, but I was telling him not to touch me because the pain was excruciating. Knowing that it would take several hours to get to the hospital by ambulance, Ross made the decision to get me in the truck and make the drive himself. That would cut the time down to 45 minutes. I gritted my teeth, and Ross was able to pick me up and load me in the truck. Off we went.

I spent a few days at the hospital enjoying soothing pain medications, caring doctors, and helpful nurses. The physcial therapists taught me how to use crutches, and I practiced getting in and out of bed. But when Ross picked me up to take me home, I was feeling pretty depressed. According to the orthopedic surgeon, it would take 3 months to recover. All of Spring. No milking, no working cows, no planting my garden, no riding my horses, no . . . . Life sucks.

But I have company. The week before the accident, our friend and neighbor, Roddy Campbell, killed himself. He was an ornery, old farmer with a mean streak. I bought my property in Summerville (which we call Eden) from Roddy, and I couldn't help but admire his tough, stubborn nature and his love for butter. He had health issues and was afraid the time would come very soon when he couldn't farm anymore. So, he borrowed a gun from his son and walked into his barn and shot himself. Life sucks.

While I was in the hospital, another neighbor on the same street, Jude, lost his home and all his belongings when his house burned down. Despite the best efforts of neighbors who used their tractors to pull firetrucks out of the mud in the road to get them close to the house, they didn't get help fast enough. Nothing is left. Life sucks.

A few days after leaving the hospital, our friend, Beryl, called. Roddy's son, Rocky, had been life-flighted to a hospital in Boise, Idaho, after suffering a major heart attack. Rocky lives across the street from Eden. He was one of the neighbors who tried to help save Jude's house. Now, he was getting a stint put in one of his heart's arteries. At least he wasn't in the 98% of people who have that type of heart attack and die. Life sucks.

But on this beautiful Monday, most of us in my little town who have experienced life's suckiness this month, have dragged ourselves up, dusted ourselves off, and are taking steps forward like we mean it. My experiences have reminded me that not everybody gets that opportunity, and not everybody makes that choice - to live life like you mean it.

Speaking for myself, I'm gonna be back in the saddle in weeks. Not months. Just you watch. I mean it.