What I didn’t know could have killed me. What I came to know thrilled me. It took a scary situation to learn a tender truth.
We put up lots of hay when I was growing up on a farm and ranch in Eastern Colorado. One day my Dad and I were loading a truck with bales of hay to be taken to our feedlot. He was operating the tractor with the front end hay loader and I was stacking the bales of hay on the back of a large farm truck. When we finished, I was stuck on the top of the hay I had stacked on the truck. Since it was close to 15 feet from the top of the truckload of hay to the ground, rather than climb down, Dad offered to give me a ride down with the tractor loader.
This was a common practice for us so I didn’t hesitate to grab on to the loader for the quick and easy way down from my perch high on top the truckload of hay. Since Dad was an excellent loader operator and in a good mood, he decided to surprise me with a thrilling ride down to the ground this time. Unfortunately Dad didn’t let me know his plans, and so he didn’t know my grip on the loader was only sufficient for a boring ride down to the ground.
I was hanging on to the loader with more than 10 feet of empty space below me when my grip gave way to Dad’s playfulness with the loader. As I started my freefall, my short life flashed before my eyes. I must have lost consciousness for awhile as I woke up with my Dad’s tear-stained face staring into mine. He was gently shaking me and asking me if I was alright. He needed to know if I thought I had any serious injuries.
Evidently I had fallen on my back and shoulders and it had knocked all the wind out of me. I didn’t think anything was broken, but my chest muscles were really sore. Eventually I was able to breathe normally and Dad was able to help me to my shaky feet.
Needless to say, Dad couldn’t stop apologizing. He had so much confidence in me and my grip on that loader that he thought I would enjoy a little fun after doing so much back-breaking work. But his good mood had been shattered by his ill-advised plan and my potentially life-threatening fall.
We both learned valuable lessons that day. And the one thing I learned that surprised me the most, had nothing to do with putting up hay. My Dad cared about me far more than I had realized!
We shouldn’t wait until a crisis comes along to let a loved one know how much they mean to us. We need to do it the next chance we get! Life is often more fragile than we realize.