With his blue checked shirt open at the neck and his sleeves rolled up, he had a farmers’ tan. He would have approached every task with enthusiasm and a smile. Memories of him in summertime were always those when there was a pitchfork in his hand, he was always there for hay making and always there for harvesting. On a Saturday in October, he would be there again when the family drills of potatoes were opened and every hand gathered to share in the work of picking them. Perhaps there were many other times when he was present, one of the problems of being young was the necessity of attending school and missing interesting things on the farm.
Perhaps there were times when he was cross, if there were, they were never visible to a keen-eyed child who did not miss many things, even though many were beyond a boyhood understanding. His presence was always ones filled with smiles, eyes sparkling as he teased his nephews and nieces and their assorted cousins who, swallow-like, enjoyed the atmosphere of the farm each summer. Some people talk of enjoying their work, but show no sign of such enjoyment; his presence on the farm was in addition to his work, in addition to hard days of labouring. His lifting of bales of hay and sheaves of barley was something he chose for his spare time. The sound of his laughter in the fields was the sound of a man who truly did enjoy work.
To meet him again after forty years was strange, there was an expectation of the muscular man with shining eyes, a wish that somehow he would not have changed. Of course he had changed, he was not someone who could still walk behind a trailer lifting bales of hay, anymore than I was the young teenager who had lurked in the company of the working men. Yet there remained the spirit of the man who had been so much part of the life of the farm on those August days. He spoke with happiness of his memories; he spoke of having always enjoyed work; and those there half of his lifetime ago would have known that he spoke with truth and he spoke with sincerity. He represented all that was best in country life, a sense of friendship, a sense of community, a sense of beauty – and twinkling eyes that were filled with good humour.
In memory, he will never be old, but will stand in a field on a high summer’s day and smile at those around him..