Everyone is trying to be successful. Their work, their hobbies, their family…whatever avenue it may be. The sad thing is many people judge their success by whether or not they have money, drive a BMW or what side of town they live on. Allow me to share another version of a successful life well lived.
A man is born into a farm family, well raised with church on Sunday and straight up family values served in large helpings at every meal. Working the soil and raising livestock. Dedicating every minute of his life to making sure his family is fed and have what they need. His brother leaves to join the service and he is left to help his parents and sisters. He tills the ground and follows in his father’s footsteps.
His mother and sisters work alongside him and working together they keep the family and farm going. He takes a wife in the bleakest of financial times and then, he too is called off to war. He does his time and serves his country, doing what others fear to do. He lands on the shores of Normandy and fights for the country he loves in the hopes that everyone will be better off because of his effort.
When he returns home, he starts a family, carrying on those family traditions he grew up with. He teaches them how to till the soil and work the livestock. Baling hay is a monthly ritual. The sun rises and sets, and each day he takes another step towards being a “success”.
His children grow up and have families of their own. This man continues to work the land and with each season that passes he sees the fruits of his labor.
As children, grand children, great-grandchildren, even a great-great grandchild come, his life begins to pass by faster and faster. Nieces and nephews look to him for advice and reassurance. He passes on years of wisdom to all who will listen and prays for those who won’t. He never turns his back, but gently encourages them to do what’s right, even though sometimes he doubts they will ever get it.
At the close of his life, people gather around to say their goodbyes and share their memories. If he could only hear what they say and feel the love everyone has for this precious man. It’s not about money or wealth. It’s about round bales of hay rolling down a hillside and little children too small to climb the steps of his school bus. The ones he had to get out and help to get in on their first day of school. The 4-H sheep contests that his grandsons took so much pride in, all of these memories are the things that show his success.
For a life well lived, this man has blessed so many and everyone will miss him dearly.
Rest In Peace Uncle Robert Ihnen, you are forever with us in every memory we share.