Tommy and Van were born and raised in the same small town in Kentucky where they both still live. They have been married for 67 years and have raised 2 daughters and 2 sons. They have been blessed with several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. All still live in this small hometown with the exception of one.
They are both very hard workers. They live on the 370 acre farm that has been in Tommy’s family since the 1800’s. They have raised everything from crops to livestock along with peach and apple orchards. They both remain very active. At 86, Tommy continues to help now as his son has taken over the farm.
Every year around this time he and a buddy go up to South Dakota to pheasant hunt. They drive straight through anxious to get there and enjoy their time in the wilderness. This year the day before the season started Tommy fell and fractured his hip.
Van flew immediately up to South Dakota the next day (Saturday) and he had surgery. On Monday around 4 pm we got a call asking if we could transport him home to Kentucky on Wednesday ( giving us just a 1 day window). Explaining to the case manager we would need all clinical info by 12 noon on Tuesday and she worked diligently to get it to us. We were ok’d to do the flight, having everything in place by Tuesday afternoon.
We arrive in South Dakota a little later than we had hoped after fighting quite a strong headwind. Tommy and Van are ready. Their daughter Judy and son-in-law George are also there. Tommy is dressed in his gray and black checked pajamas complete with his shoes on. His eyes are a pretty steel blue and besides this recent fracture and being a little hard of hearing he is in great health. George and Judy escort us all the way to ambulance. They will be making the 13 hour drive back once we leave.
It was such fun talking with Tommy and Van during their flight and hearing about their family. They met when they were just teens and Van was actually dating Tommy’s best friend that he had since kindergarten. She quickly realized Tommy and her were better suited and the rest is history. She said that they all remained great friends over the years. She shared so many stories but the one that stands out to me the most was this……..in her words…….
“It was early in our marriage, we had 3 children at the time. Tommy’s parents, his brother and family and themselves had a very rough year on the farm. At the time they were raising dairy cows and had a peach orchard. During the morning and early afternoon they would milk and tend the cows then late afternoon their time was needed in the orchard. Times were very hard this particular year and with Tommy being the youngest the family looked to him for advice.
The tough decision to sell the cows was made. Some of these cows Tommy had raised from calves and bottle fed them himself. This really hurt him. On top of all of this there had been a very damaging hail storm that wiped out their peach crop. Unable to sell their crop for top dollar, Tommy loaded up his truck and spent several days going to many grocery stores doing all he could to sell what they had so he and the other 2 families could put food on their tables. Van said this was one of the few times she had ever seen her husband cry.”
What I won’t forget is that as she shared this story with us she was fighting back tears as though it had all happened yesterday. It was so simple and sweet and yet I could still feel her emotions as she spoke.
This family has great faith in God. They still attend the very first church that Tommy’s parents took him too just after he was born. The church is just across the road from their home on their farm.
Van joked and said on Sunday’s their dog beats them over there. At last we arrived in Kentucky and on our way to the facility Tommy joked, asking, “do you think I can get my son to pay me unemployment while I’m down?”
Their 2 sons, a daughter-in-law and adorable great-granddaughter were there to welcome us. That put a huge smile on his face. We prayed with all of them. I don’t think this will keep Tommy down for too long he is to used to being active and this will be a great motivation for him. If not, no doubt that precious little great-granddaughter will be.
I so enjoyed hearing their wonderful family history and found myself wishing we had more time together. I could have listened for hours.
Please keep continue to keep them in your prayers.
NOW THIS IS ETERNAL LIFE: THAT THEY KNOW YOU, THE ONLY TRUE GOD, AND JESUS CHRIST, WHOM YOU HAVE SENT.
Thank you to Hal and Jason for sharing this mission with me.
Shelli Engle RN