As a young boy I never troubled myself with thoughts such as how food was put on the table or how the electric bill was paid. I had never been hungry. I’d never been homeless. Growing up with luxuries like these made me consider them a given. I went to school, played with my friends, and returned home with not a care in the world besides the occasional homework that lasted a whole thirty minutes. My father helps out on the family farm in addition to his eight hour workday of being a mechanic in St. Louis; and so from early on I was accustomed to him coming home during the week and heading directly out to tend to the fields. As I began to get older, encountering more difficult homework in high school and piling responsibilities, my care free thoughts quickly became a hazy memory and were replaced with feelings of stress and worry. However, it was not until a family member was lost that I was shown just how difficult the world really is. My grandfather, Charlie, was nearing his mid 80’s and started encountering numerous health problems from pneumonia to the beginning of Alzheimer’s. Due to the death of his brother Paul about a year before, only he and my father managed the farm. Other people offered their assistance here and there, but the majority of tasks were dealt with by them. Shortly after my grandfather was put in the nursing home, he passed away. My dad’s remaining parent and helper on the farm was lost. Nevertheless, despite all my families’ sorrow, life continued to go on as it always does. My father still had the assistance of a long time family friend, Donald Salger, on the farm; however, Donald himself was retired and somewhat limited in the amount of jobs he could perform. My dad basically began running the farm on his own. I tried to help him out with small jobs that I could perform but was hindered by demanding sports schedules and high school academics. I would come home after practice and encounter my father laboring away at the farm; his clothes soaked in sweat and blackened by dirt and oil. It was at this time that I realized all those luxuries weren’t simply givens. The house we owned, the food on the table, the clothes on our backs, every item we held dear to us was a direct result of the hard work of my father. He gets up at sunrise and works till sunset. He doesn’t do it because he enjoys difficult labor; he does it because it needs to be done for our family. Things in this world aren’t simply given, they’re earned. Things aren’t handed out, they’re taken. My father has displayed a quality that I will admire, value, and hold for the rest of my life. I believe in hard work.
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