Encouragement & Hope
Submitted by Mary Jane Banfield
Family Life on a Dairy Farm
My father was born in 1902, and had to stop school after eighth grade because he had to support his mother, sisters and brother. Home life was unpleasant, but became better when his father left home.
He worked very hard, bought a farm, cows, horses and horse-drawn machinery, and became a successful dairy farmer. He married my mother, who worked outside the home and was used to a more refined life. However, they were happy and my birth added to their happiness. Three years later, my sister, Anne, was born and the family was complete.
After two weeks in bed, my mother was allowed to get up. She walked upstairs to the bathroom and died of a blood clot. My maternal and paternal grandmas had come to the farm to help with caring for two children, milking equipment, threshers who needed to eat, and household chores. They realized something was wrong and stood at the foot of the staircase with their arms wrapped in their aprons. Being young and fast, I raced up the stairs and discovered my mother on the floor.
The grandmas stayed with us and I thought they were very nice, but very old. They were in their mid-60’s and expected everything to be done when it was suggested. As the years passed, the grandmas were our mothers and stability as my father worked non-stop to support the farm. To give the grandmas a break from my chatter and constant movement, I was sent to school when I was four years old. No one could drive to pick me up at noon so I stayed at school all day and loved it.
For many years, I wanted a mother, but how could I get one? The grandmas were lovely and kind, but they weren’t a mother. They were overwhelmed with all the work that needed to be done. However, I had a wonderful, sweet, kind, compassionate kindergarten teacher and I loved her. Although my father never attended school events because the cows had to be milked at 4:00 AM and 4:00 PM, he decided to attend my first open house at school. We walked around the room, saw the fish in the floor pond, listened to music and talked with Miss Doty. My shy father didn’t realize that I had asked Miss Doty to be my mother. During a break in the cantata, I shouted and said, "I asked Miss Doty to be my mother, but she didn’t answer me.” Dad immediately removed me from the auditorium and I imagine many people in our small town were surprised.
However, after courting and getting to know the family, my Dad and Miss Doty were married in 1948, and Anne and I were flower girls. It was very disappointing to learn that we weren’t going on the honeymoon and had to go home with the grandmas, but I knew she was ours. I was just so thrilled to have a mother, and she was a blessing her whole life. Although she didn’t know much about housekeeping, she learned how to cook for a group, how to garden, take care of Anne and me, sew our clothes…..everything a mother does. She was a perfect mother for girls who wanted and needed a mother.
Matthew 11:28 “Come unto me, all who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
This verse spoke to the life of farmers and was said often.
Blessings to you and yours,
Mary Jane Banfield