Michigan sky

THE BARN WAS GONE

THE BARN WAS GONE 

The sky turned sinister as the wind slammed against our house. Mom shoved all three of us children into the closet and gave us pillows to hold over our heads. She then shielded us with her body.

When the battering roar of the storm became a gentle rain, my mother called to check on her parents, Gladys and Orville Reynolds.

The storm had hit the farm.

We piled into the car and headed down the gravel road. We all wanted to see the damage. But from a distance, the empty landscape caused us to gasp. No huge barn stood near the rain-battered fields.

But wait … I realize that I must start at the beginning and tell the whole story.

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Grandpa and Grandma Reynolds had been out riding horses when they saw the horizon turn a greenish-black. The Michigan sky deepened into a frightening dark color and boiled toward them, and my Grandpa realized this would be no ordinary storm.

They raced back to the barn, jerked the saddles off the horses, and released the horses to the field. Grandpa opened stalls and shooed animals out of the barn, but the wind howled through the cracking walls. He ordered Grandma to run for the farmhouse. He had one more horse to get out of a stall—a pregnant palomino, named Lady. But Grandma refused and yelled that she wouldn’t leave without him. As the wind swept away her stubborn words, Grandpa knew there was no other choice.

They ran for their lives, the wind tearing at their clothes. They made it to the rear of the house, ran up the cement steps, and stumbled into the back hall. They slammed the door shut and headed for the basement door. But as they hurried past the window facing the barn, they looked out. The familiar outline of the large barn was gone, flattened to the ground by the howling wind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When we piled out of the car at the farm, a sick, dazed feeling caused me to stop and stare. My childish mind tried to process the total destruction. The barn can’t be gone.

Just weeks before the storm, I had accompanied the men bringing in the hay. I could still hear the rumble of the tractor as my father lifted me to the bed of the hay wagon. My fingers had dug into the scratchy bales and fears of tumbling off the wagon washed over me. I had carelessly stood and watched the approach of the wide-open double doors of the shadowy barn. The smell of dried hay filled my senses as the wagon rolled up the grade and into the barn. I had gazed upward at the perfectly stacked bales to the right. They reached for the distant ceiling. Sunlight had squeezed through cracks in the walls and reflected on dust drifting in the air. Barn swallows had dipped and flown near the roof, and the cheeping of baby birds filled the vast area under the roof. Massive square timbers held the metal roof in place, but each notch in the construction had provided a place for a comfy nest.

The voices of my parents and grandparents, lamenting the destruction before us, pulled me back to the devastation. My thoughts spun. Baby birds! What about all the baby birds?

I begged to accompany the adults out to the barn. How strange to walk on the underside of the barn’s metal roof and step over solid timbers that were once upright. I heard the sadness in my Grandpa’s voice, a subtle shaking—that meant tears were a possibility.

My mother walked around the debris, her arms crossed at her waist, and hugged tight. A gentle breeze rippled over the destruction, and my mother pointed at something. She motioned me closer, and the pitiful peeping of baby birds drew me to a stack of wood.

Someone handed me a shoebox. I plucked babies from squashed nests, from under timbers, and from protected holes in wooden beams. I wish I could say they all lived. But they didn’t.

Yes, the palomino survived—she was located in the field. The upright walls of the stall testified to the fact that the horse must’ve been knocked down and somehow emerged from under the debris. She got out through a hole left in the demolished exterior wall and had only one raised bump on her back. That winter, Grandpa and Grandma hauled her to Florida in a horse trailer. I wish I could say that the colt lived—but it didn’t. It was stillborn.

My grandpa suffered a stroke not too many years after the barn blew down. He lived to become a great grandfather, but the farm—with its new barn—had to be sold.

Today I pulled a folded sheet of paper from one of my desk drawers. It was the advertisement for the sale of the farm and the auction of all the equipment. I read the list and my heart ached for Grandpa and what he had to give up. The memories still tug at my heart. I wish I had been old enough and rich enough to buy the farm. But I have my memories of Grandpa and Grandma Reynolds and the heritage they left for me to treasure.

Each one of us can turn around in our minds and stare at the past, hear its whispers, and feel its tugs. One piece of paper and a few old slides, which my father took many years ago, bind this story into a solid chunk of the past.

But the future is more important. I must turn and look forward. Every one of us must turn.

God’s word reminds us of past promises and the hope for the future. Pastors and Christian friends also help us remember the past but urge us to stand fast—for we have an everlasting opportunity in heaven.

 

One scripture says, “I plan to keep on reminding you of these things—even though you already know them and are standing firm in the truth. Yes, I believe I should keep on reminding you of these things as long as I live.” 2 Peter 1:12-13, NLT

We must admonish eachother to remember that God has been with us through the good and the bad. He’s still leading us. A new life waits just beyond the horizon. It’s ours … if we hold firm. What keeps you on the path heading toward Heaven? Please, scroll down. Share your comments in the space below this post. Thank you for reading my blog!

I have to thank my father, Marshall E. Campbell, for the use of his many slides and his paintings that appear in my blog posts. He tells me to use them whenever I want. I have downloaded hundreds to my computer and have hundreds more to go! He wants the family history saved.

~Karen

 

© Karen Campbell Prough 2012     Please ask permission before using this copyrighted material. Thank you.

 

Represented by Linda S. Glaz at http://www.hartlineliterary.com.