Yesterday we celebrated the life of my 91-year-old grandfather, Joseph Henry. My grandpa was a farmer, a WWII vet, a Purple Heart recipient, and growing up, he was my neighbor. His death has made me think about the legacy he left his family. The first legacy he left was the love of farming. My dad followed in his dad’s footsteps and became a dairy farmer, and now both of my brothers have returned to the farm after finishing college. My nephew is only four, but he already has what we call the “farming gene.” He wants to wear jeans with holes in just like Daddy to do farm work, he asks his mom to slow down when she’s driving to check out a field of soybeans, and he sweats and tries his hardest when he’s helping on the farm. Who knows if he will become a farmer, but his love of cows and the outdoors is becoming evident.
Because I grew up on a farm, I wanted to marry a farmer. My grandpa always liked that my husband, my dad and him shared the same first name of Joseph. Even before grandpa passed, Joe and I decided the middle name of our unborn boy would be Joseph. I’m sure our baby boy will grow up loving the farming lifestyle. It’s a little hard not to let it get in your DNA.
Grandpa introducing me to a new calf in 1980. My dad loves to do the same thing with my daughters in 2013.
The other legacy my grandpa left was his love of kids. He loved to hold babies, teach toddlers new things, and tease grown-up kids. When I introduced both of my girls to him, he couldn’t wait to hold them and marvel at their every precious baby feature. One of my fondest memories growing up was when they would babysit my brothers and I and we got grandma and grandpa all night to ourselves. They insisted we sleep on the floor of their bedroom because down the hall would have been too far away.
As I watched the slide show that played in the funeral home, I noticed how many pictures included my grandpa holding babies. That’s a trait that has been passed on to all the Henry men. My dad can spend hours on the floor with a baby making faces and talking to them. My brother can’t help but have a perma-smile when he’s around not only his son, but my girls as well. My cousin Craig flew in from South Dakota for the funeral. His wife couldn’t get time off work, so Craig and his 8-month daughter made the trip solo. Some people might be surprised he traveled so far without his wife, but I’m not. He’s a Henry. And Henry men are awesome dads.
Even though we will miss grandpa, we rejoice in the fact that he lived a full life and know we will one day see him again. His legacy of farming and farmily will live on long past his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.