Earlier this week, my brother Bernie was seriously injured in a farming accident. The radiator on the tractor he had been cultivating with, exploded. He received 2nd and 3rd degree burns on his face, arms, back and chest. By the grace of God there were no inhalation burns and his eyesight was spared. After a stay in ICU at Munson Medical in Traverse City, Bernie was released to go home, and is under the care and medical supervision of a plastic surgeon who specializes in post-burn treatment. I am thankful for all the first-responders, techs, nurses and doctors (along with their admit support teams) that helped my brother.
So back to Ware Farm in Bear Lake, Michigan does my brother go…..with strict orders not to work and stay indoors…..out of the sun and out of the dirt. Can you imagine how difficult that is for an organic farmer?
I’m in Illinois. I also am unable to travel at this time due to my own health issues. So via phone calls home, and social media, I listen and watch. Helpless to do anything, but marveling at what unfolds over the course of a week.
I hear the deep love and concern my 93 year old Dad has for his son. Dad still helps on the farm, a place he started so many decades ago. Hauls strawberries where they need to go, and a myriad of other things, fixing stuff, helping irrigate. A wealth of farming wisdom in that hatted grey head of his.
I see the love and dedication of Bernie’s beautiful, hard-working, keenly intelligent wife, Sandee. She is Bernie’s heart and soul, and she is the laughing eyed, smiling center of the farm.
I know that Sandee’s folks who live at the end of the same rural dirt road Ware Farm is on, are ever present, as they have always been, but it still needs mentioning….they are there, doing what they always do, helping and loving Bernie and Sandee.
I read the group texts we receive on my husband’s little flip-phone, updates sent by my brother Chris, to everyone who has a cell phone. Keeping us all current on news.
I see the GoFundMe fundraiser set up by a dear family friend of Bernie and Sandee’s. I see the donations, many names I know. Family. Friends. Folks I have come to know via social media. Even friends of mine that have no connection to Bernie at all, except me. Many anonymous givers, who gave with no names, quietly supporting Bernie & Sandee. Thank you Chloe G. for setting up this fundraiser. You’re a superstar!
I read the messages and comments left for Bernie and Sandee on their Facebook page. So much love, kindness, and care.
I’ve been told that a lot of folks are pitching in at the farm. I don’t need to remind anyone that on an organic farm (fruits – veggies – salad greens – herbs – flowers – shiitake mushrooms) you’re not signing up for an easy job either. This is down and dirty, sometimes back-breaking, tedious stuff…..and for the folks that are rolling up their sleeves and diving in with their work boots on….I salute you. I am grateful to you.
So where does all this love spring from? It started with Bernie and Sandee. By treating people kindly. By being honest. By being true. By sticking to what they believe in, even when others may disapprove. By having the capability of disagreeing with others, or policies……even strongly opposing…..but yet not personalizing the issues. By teaching others that all things are connected….that what we eat, what we drink, how we treat others, how we treat the Earth and all it’s creatures, all that is connected and all that matters. By reminding people that in the end, the only thing we leave behind, is love. That’s the only thing that is constant, that reaches beyond death, and is already present at birth. Love is our only true legacy.
Bernie has also had the great fortune to have an interesting life. Grew up on a working farm. College educated. Well-traveled. He was a teacher for a long time, and anyone who has had a good teacher make an impact in their young life, already knows how kids lives were impacted by him. He snorkeled with sharks and went hang-gliding in the Andes Mountains. He met indigenous peoples in South America, deep in the jungles. His path to becoming an organic farmer was long and winding….and every step he took brought him to where he is today.
The news at this point regarding Bernie’s burns is cautiously optimistic. He needs to follow the doctor’s orders regarding his care to a “T”…….his pain is well-managed (he says)….and when I spoke to him on the phone….his words and tone were hopeful.
I hope when Bernie and Sandee see a world of folks reaching out and reaching in, to help with the fundraiser for medical bills and loss of income/work, that they will feel loved. I already know, knowing them, that they will be profoundly grateful.
If you would like to help my brother Bernie and his wife Sandee, here is the link to the GoFundMe fundraiser:
Most of all, I ask for love, healing thoughts and prayers. Thank you.