Those of us who have the extreme good fortune of being field editors for an agricultural publication possess what I consider to be the supreme perk of any job — not being tied to a desk for eight or more hours each day.
In this particular line of work, we are required, from time to time, to hit the open road in search of new and interesting people — it just doesn’t get much better than this. An added benefit is that those of us with families have been able to take them along on more than a few of these journeys.
My daughter Tess — especially when she was younger and out of school for the summer — was an amiable traveling companion on many such trips. Always one to appreciate a good meal, she could easily be convinced to accompany me to a field day or a farm tour if there was the promise of a hearty dinner at the end, even in triple-digit Alabama and Georgia temperatures. One memory that stands out in my mind was the annual Sunbelt Expo Field Day in Moultrie, Ga. Tess was about 12, and we were far out in the fields, a good ways from the nearest shelter. As is normal during a southwest Georgia July, the mercury was topping out at about 102 degrees F. Out of nowhere, a violent thunderstorm struck, rocking the tram to-and-fro and soaking us all. But Tess was a trooper until the end, even considering it an adventure of sorts, and asking, as rain pooled at her feet, “What’s for lunch?”
All of these memories come rushing back because in a few days, my daughter is getting married. And while I’ve heard talk of fathers who shed tears on such an occasion, other than the inevitable pain that comes from writing too many checks to wedding vendors, I feel nothing but pride. At 24, she has become a mature, beautiful and intelligent woman, one who sticks steadfastly to her principles and is never afraid to voice her opinion on a matter, while at the same time reserving a good heart and a gentle soul, the latter owing to her mother, no doubt. And she’s marrying a man who even the most curmudgeonly future father-in-law would deem worthy, one who is almost my equal in his appreciation for the irreverent, and one who is making us all proud by making the ultimate sacrifice and serving his country in the Armed Forces.
On a recent visit with a young Georgia farmer, I noticed a photograph on his desk of three precious little girls. When I asked their ages, he picked up the picture, stared wistfully at it, and said, “They steal your heart.” They do.