The Close Call with the Tractor

Farm living was the life for me! I was really in love with our 20 plus acre property we moved to when our four children were two months to five years old. We eventually bought cows and horses and chickens and guineas and peacocks and geese and emus and planted gardens and had our own pond filled with fish. We even had a big pig named Otis that lived under the elevated farm-house and would come out to eat table scraps whenever you called him.

One of my pride and joys was the old 1955 blue tractor I bought. I plowed and mowed the fields and somehow felt like I connected with my long deceased grandpa who farmed in Plant City many decades earlier.

 Author with sons Cal and Taylor

One day I decided to take the three small boys on a tractor ride. Normally I am very cautious, border lining on afraid, when it comes to risky behavior with the kids. For some reason that day, I decided that it would be safe enough to let two of them straddle the hood of the tractor up front as long as I went slowly enough and kept a good eye on them. We traveled around the pastures and they loved it. I did too.

What happened next is best described by the account that I wrote in my diary later in the evening.

Saturday March 19, 1994

Things were going along pretty well. The boys all wanted to ride on the tractor so I agreed to give them another ride. Robbie and Cal rode up front on the hood while I held Taylor on my knee. As I circled up by the lake, I thought about how many tractor accidents there are each year and wondered about that. I putted along in slow gear and decided to take them through the trees. I saw a branch hanging down and I am not sure if I was avoiding it or trying to give the boys some excitement, but the result could have changed our lives forever.

It happened so fast. Robbie tried to move the branch out of Cal’s way and it just took him and threw him off the tractor towards the left rear wheel. I couldn’t stop in time. His leg was right in the path and he pulled it out of the way just in time. [I actually pushed in the clutch for a split second which slowed the tractor a little but my foot slipped off. That split second was critical]

I would have hurt my boy because I was not fast enough. I’m still dazed and it is 8 hours later. One second we were riding having a good time and a split second later he could have been killed. My sweet boy… I thanked my Heavenly Father. Robbie asked if I was mad at him and I told him, no, that I was mad at me. He wanted to know if he should go off by himself and think about it. He was just so sweet worrying about me still being mad at myself. I am just so happy to be going to bed with my boys, girl and wife all safe. I need to be more careful. I would gladly give my life in trade for one of theirs. I’m just so glad. I am still shaking. One second we’re fine and the next a disaster. That quick.

There are several principles you can glean from this story. The one that I would like to share is with regards to the “goodness” of people. In this story, Robbie tried to keep the branch from hitting his younger brother and the result was that he ended up almost getting run over. We constantly hear about the bravery of somebody jumping into the water to save somebody else from drowning, going into a burning building to save a life, letting someone be rescued in the icy cold before they are rescued. Sometimes these stories result in everybody being saved. Sometimes they result in the rescuer dying also.

We all understand to what ends a loving parent will go to protect their child. What, however, makes a stranger help a stranger? There is something inherently good in all of us. Our humanity runs deep. It is clouded by the politics, greed and the selfish ambition of man, but our humanity is still there. We do well, when the thunderstorms of trouble and despair are on the horizon, to remember that by in large, we are all basically good people. Perhaps that perspective will foster solutions to issues in our family, neighborhood, and country that seem impossible to resolve  when we forget that at the very basic fundamental level…people are good.

HighFive Your Life Principle: People are as a rule good. To discover that “goodness” sometimes requires getting to the core of the person but it is there. Accepting the goodness of each other more completely may tend to help all of us arrive at solutions to problems more quickly and with less pain.

Please share stories from your life regarding this principle. If you would like to follow the weekly blog, please press the “follow” prompt. Thank you for keeping your comments appropriate for all readers. Gary

2 thoughts on “The Close Call with the Tractor”

  1. This story resonated with me. I also grew up on a farm and had a similar experience when I was about 3 or 4 years old. If I recall correctly, we were cutting hay. I was sitting beside my Dad on the wheel well of the tractor. I’m not sure if we hit a bump or if there was a rough gear change; either way I was thrown forward between the front and rear wheels. Dad slammed on the brakes and the tractor skidded. The rear wheel pinned me down into the mud, but it did not roll over top of me. I was stuck, but I was (miraculously?) completely uninjured.
    No doubt there are many principles to be gleaned from experiences such as these. A simple phrase from Gary’s diary entry about this experience was a poignant reminder for me about one of them: “One second we’re fine and the next a disaster. That quick.” The simple principle here is gratitude. How well do we recognize the simple, abiding blessings of our lives? All-to-often we do not recognize these simple blessings until they are taken from us. In the 25 years since that incident, my life has revolved heavily around athletics in some way. A few more inches that day and I may well of had my young legs and/or pelvis and/or spine and/or body crushed. How different those next 25 years would have been if the tractor hadn’t stopped when it did! For that matter, there may not have even been another 25 years at all!
    It is human nature to expect and take for granted that which we are born with or accustomed to having. Gary, thank you for helping me remember to count my blessings. I have so much for which to be grateful. We all do. We just need to be reminded every now and then . . . which is why I love HighFive Your Life and why I’m a big fan of this blog.

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