By Rosanna Bauman
We had a big weekend. Or so we thought until Monday dawned and proved to be even bigger. Last weekend our family hosted fifty teenagers for the weekend. Our family and the Filbrun family had organized a canoeing trip to Missouri. This meant the week prior was filled with evenings organizing the transportation to the river, the canoe rentals, the amount of food needed to feed fifty teenagers four meals, and the games necessary to keep them all busy. Everything went well; it was just a lot of work. After rising early to take the bus four hours into Missouri, we came back to my maternal grandparents place for a hotdog roast and volleyball. We all returned on Sunday afternoon for more volleyball and a scavenger hunt. We chose to host it there because our farm doesn’t have a nice large lawn like they do, and my grandparents were pretty excited about having that many vibrant teenagers spice up their usually quiet weekend. They watched with fascination as we set up the volleyball courts and began playing games- It was late Sunday evening until everyone left and we got the food all put away. I thought with dread of my less than five hours of sleep I would get before rising to dress chickens the next morning
Monday morning, I slept in about fifteen minutes, so I was hustling about feeling rather pressured for time, when my mother entered the plant and told me that she and Dad were rushing over to admit my grandpa Carl to the hospital. He had fallen and couldn’t get up. He had a headache throughout the weekend due to a fall he had taken Friday evening when he was helping us get the courts set up. I am now short five employees for the day. My grandpa has a bad heart, but he is a big help in the – processing plant. He keeps a count on the number of birds for me (no small accomplishment) as well as seeing to the microbial control applications. The employees enjoy him and call him “Grandpa” because no one can remember his name. Then, the first blessing of the day arrives. (There will be many more before the day is over.) One of the producers scheduled to bring one hundred and fifty broilers calls to cancel- Ordinarily, cancellations the morning of your appointment are not appreciated. But I actually thanked this farmer, and told him what the circumstances were. Just then Mom called from the hospital to say that grandpa had bleeding on the brain. Since it was close to his brainstem, there was nothing more to be done than to wait to see if it would clot. Prognosis for survival was slim. And here I am, stuck in the processing plant with 366 chickens to dress before I can go to the hospital.
When a crisis strikes, our family is always the first to respond. My aunt and her daughters were planning to can 250 pounds of tomatoes that day, but they dropped everything to come over to our place. They whisked in the door bearing enough food, drinks and snacks to feed a crew twice the size of what we had on duty. While we were dressing chickens they cleaned the house and did the laundry. This was no small feat since we had just emerged from a big weekend that created an extra lot of laundry and dirty dishes. Another cousin was in the city and stayed late to bring home my aunt and her daughter who were flying in from Indiana. We are never more grateful for our extended family than when trouble visits. Right on the heels of our concerned relatives came the helping hands of our church members and friends. Our friend Katelyn had helped us host the weekend gathering and had been up until two a.m. with her company. Leaving her own large to-do list, she came over, bearing a casserole, to help us dress chickens. Katelyn doesn’t really care much to dress chickens, so her assistance meant all the more to us. Esther C., Tyler, Jane, Esther B., and Laura (all employees who had helped dress chickens) stayed late, despite their own busy schedules, to feed the poultry, prepare the combine for the field, and gather up nearly two hundred dozen eggs from our neighbors so we could sort them for deliveries. Their assistance allowed me to be able to make it over to the hospital by 4:30 p.m. which is extremely early for a dressing day. That evening a group of friends also went over to my grandparents place and cleaned up from the weekend. We had our volleyball nets still up, as well as tables and benches. The boys disassembled the stuff outdoors while the girls gave my Grandma’s house a quick cleaning and washed the dishes left from the meal Sunday night. The next evening, twenty of the young folks who had played on my grandparents lawn, came on short notice and sang to Grandpa in the hospital room. Then, starting that afternoon, and continuing throughout the week, the various church members started arriving with casseroles. We would come inside after a day of dressing to find that some Sisters had left a casserole and note on our kitchen table. At the hospital, a friend noticed that we’d left the keys in the ignition, so they took it down to the gas station and fueled it up. Around here, locking your houses and cars would keep out more good than bad. In fact, the local joke is that the only people who lock their doors are those who already have enough zucchini.
These casseroles and cookies have been a real blessing. With us being at the hospital so much it doesn’t leave much time for meal preparation. On top of that, the corn harvest is just starting, so we are cooking large lunches in addition to the large suppers for the boys. That’s a lot of cooking. We are eating through our casserole stash with alarming speed. The other day, the boys informed me at 10:30 that they would like to have lunch at 11:00 because they would be hitting the fields by noon. Thanks to those casseroles, I had meat, potatoes, veggies, and a desert on the table by the appointed time.
My grandpa is still in the hospital and is doing better, although not “out of the woods” yet. We are still spending large portions of the day at the hospital. Despite the uncertainty, we are much encouraged by all the support and prayers. It is also very humbling to see such a magnificent return on the bread we had cast upon the waters. We had spent a lot of our time and energy into providing an enjoyable weekend for the young folks. While it was a lot of work, we knew it would be worth it, because kindness isn’t a cost. It is an investment. But we never expected such an overwhelming return so soon. The good you do come back to you, but it is usually later rather than sooner.