The good die young

Published 9:43 am Tuesday, July 17, 2012

To the Editor:

Recently I was among hundreds saying goodbye to my husband’s cousin, John Lane, Jr.  John was a Gates County farmer, by trade, heart, and soul. He was also one of gentlest and kindest men that I had ever had the pleasure of knowing, and he had the unique ability to make everyone feel good just for his presence.  He welcomed me into the large and tightly knit Lane family with open arms.

I had never experienced the love and closeness of an expanded family such as theirs, and he would never fail to put me at ease at gatherings with his quiet smile, kind blue eyes, and wonderful stories.

John was 45, and there are no words to explain the unfairness of his being taken away so young and leaving behind this beautiful family who must now figure out where to go from here.

As we drove up the lane to John and Kellie’s house, I saw the corn standing tall in the fields that he had planted, along with thousands of other acres of crops across Gates County.  I looked around at these wonderful people as they cried, hugged, and grieved together, and the love for this wonderful man was something so strong that you could almost touch it, breathe it in, and wrap it around you.  He touched so many people in such an intricate, expansive network akin to the roots of the crops that he so carefully tended.

John is there, and will always be – from the sandy soil, to green leaves of the young peanuts stretching out in endless rows, and to the sun, sky, and rain that watch over and nourish us all.

A few weeks ago, I took a handful of peanuts that had been a gift from the Lane’s last Thanksgiving.  The bulk had been used to feed my boys, from snacks to homemade peanut butter, but there were a few left over.  I thought I would experiment to see if my Hyde County soil could grow peanuts, so I carefully planted two rows and waited.  This morning I walked along my rows and saw the strong, young plants recently emerged, brilliant green leaflets waving in the wind.  These plants come from the peanuts that John had harvested, grown from the peanut seeds that he had planted.  Even in Hyde County, John’s touch will be here, and I will tell my oldest son that our peanuts come from another oldest of three brothers, one who loved the land and one who loved his family, and one we were all lucky enough to have known.

I can’t help but wonder when it is that my last garden will be planted.  None of us can ever know when our time here is done, but, if I had a choice, it would be some late June day well after the season’s planting is done and the jars of the spring’s strawberry preserves fill the cupboard. The immortality bestowed upon us by love is, indeed, a miraculous thing.

April Temple

Hyde County