Honoring a Cornerstone of Our Family and Our Farm

Early in the morning on Monday, we were loading hogs, when my father-in-law’s phone rang.  Everyone knows that 3 AM phone calls are never good news.  This was no exception.  His mother, my grandmother-in-law, had passed away.  Peacefully, and in her sleep, with her husband and daughter at her side.  We all knew that her time was drawing to a close, but there really is nothing that can truly prepare you for the loss of a loved one.


Harold and Bernadine celebrating their 60th Anniversary with Lucy and Russell in 2008.


Bernadine lived a long, good life as a farm wife.  She instilled deeply rooted values into her children, who then passed them on to their children, who are now sharing those same values with her great-grandchildren.  Values such as a strong faith in God, integrity, honor, and a strong work ethic.

Fourteen years ago, before I knew Bernadine, she  was in a life-changing accident that nearly took her life.  She endured a long road to recovery, and would never be the same as she was before the accident.  Now, instead of taking care of her family, her family was taking care of her.

When I first met Bernadine and her husband, Harold, they were still living on the home farm.  It was a daily ritual for my husband to stop by and check on them, and whenever I could, I tagged along with.  Sometimes we would be in there briefly, and other times, they were in the mood for a long conversation.  It was a sure bet Bernadine would always ask, “How we coming?” and “What did you have for dinner?  Was it good?”  More than once, we would sit down and play cards with Harold and Bernadine.  She was a much better Euchre player than I could ever hope to be!

Justin told me that she was always concerned about his love life, and when I wasn’t there she would ask where “his girl” was.  I will never forget the excitement that shined in her eyes when we made a special visit to announce our engagement to them.  She also loved babies.  After Russell was born, we would stop by and let her hold him.  She would hold him as long as possible, rocking back and forth in her wheelchair.


Grandma Bernadine loved holding babies, especially her great grandbabies.


A few years ago, Harold and Bernadine made the decision to move to the nursing home, and our daily ritual of visiting became a weekly one.  If there is anything I regret in being a part of Bernadine’s life, it is that we didn’t spend more time with her.  It’s the story you always hear, about life being too busy.  Bernadine was a blessing, and sometimes we would overlook that.

Justin would tell me stories of Bernadine.  Working in the garden with her, helping her feed her laying hens and collect the eggs, cooking, canning, and baking with her.  On top of all this, she would still find the time to help on the farm, all the time wearing a dress.  Stories of coming into the house with ripped jeans and having to take them off and wait in a bedroom while she mended them.  Bernadine loved her family, her life, and the farm, and showed her love through all of her actions and hard work.


Harold and Bernadine loved dancing together. Although Bernadine spent a lot of time in her wheelchair, she could always muster up the strength for a dance with her husband.


Bernadine didn’t just help on the farm either, she was involved in the decisions about the farm business.  She had the final say on farming decisions, and often sacrificed her own personal priorities for the sake of the farm.  The men respected her for this, and it created a legacy in the family.    Bernadine’s assertiveness in the farming business is what created the opportunity for her children, grandchildren, and soon, great-grandchildren to farm and/or pursue whatever their calling if life was.  My admiration for this lady cannot be adequately expressed, and I often think of her when times get tough on the farm.


Celebrating Harold and Bernadine's Anniversary at the Good Neighbor Home in 2007.


I know that Bernadine is now in heaven, with other loved ones who have gone before her.  She is watching over us, and I hope that she can take a lot of pride in the accomplishments of the generations she has nurtured.  I am so glad for the time that I had to get to know Bernadine, and I am certain that her legacy will live on through the future generations of her family.


4 responses to this post.

  1. My eyes are welling up as I read this. My 90-year-old grandfather was recently diagnosed with a very aggressive form of cancer, and our time with him is short. Even though he’s not feeling well, he still asks my mom to take him on drives to see the combines rolling in the fields. His whole life has been devoted to farming. Thanks for sharing your grandmother-in-law’s story. She sounds like an amazing woman.

  2. Posted by Annette Farrell on October 16, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    Liz, Your words are wonderful and describe her perfectly. Thank you so much for all you do. You are very much like her in that you are as deeply involved in farming as in raising your family. We feel attached to your family through your posts and appreciate the time you take to do those. God bless you! Annette

    • Annette, thank you for reading. Bernadine was a very special lady, and I only wish I had known her before her accident. I’m glad I had the time that I did with her, and am proud to help carry on her legacy. It was good seeing your family this week.

  3. That was a great tribute to an amazing farm woman! There’s never enough time to spend with them, and what makes me the saddest is that our kids won’t know how wonderful their great grandparents truly were. It’s up to us to keep that alive for them, and you’ve done a great job here.

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