It happened again this week. Two strangers on the farm, just driving through as if they owned the place. I did the “southern gentleman” thing and asked if I could help them. The driver introduced herself and then introduced her passenger: her 90-year-old mother who used to own this land.
It’s happened a dozen times in the last 30 years. Elderly people just stopping by to see the place one last time. I listen with great interest as they tell stories of growing up here. They’ll tell me their parents used to live in that little house or there used to be barn over that hill. “Over yonder,” they’ll say, “is where my uncle got hurt by the bull.”
I had heard a story about this week’s visitor. It was rumored that one of the previous owners was a longtime bachelor, who finally, at the age of 43, married his employee’s 18-year-old daughter. She was that daughter.
She told me that they married in the living room of an old and now abandoned house that still stands on this farm. She said that she loved him and would still be married to “the ol’ bastard” if he hadn’t up and died on her 20 years ago. (Her words, not mine.)
She promised to return someday with her wedding album so I can see pictures of the house in its prime. But she, like the house, is nearing the end of her days, and I’ll probably never see her again.
I’ve read stories of cattle being run here as far back as 1906. It’s been a farm for a long, long time. My family has owned it since 1971, and I hope to someday grow old and die here, for I’ve seen the sadness in the eyes of too many people who seem to wish they’d never left.