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Last week Joelle and I travelled east of the mountains to Pasco for a funeral. A family friend’s father had passed away and we went to help with prepping of food and what not for the funeral and reception following. Planning a funeral is a lot like planning a wedding except you only get a few weeks at most to pull it together.

Jim had been a member of the same community for 75 years, married 57 years, had four daughters, 11 grandkids and 2 greats. Besides raising children and blessing his grandchildren, Jim was an Alfalfa hay farmer.

Alfalfa was his crop of choice. Jim, his brother and their father cleared the sage brush, leveled out the sand dunes bringing that rough piece of ground into productive crop land. As I sat there at the funeral with over 300 people listening to memories after memories, I was thinking you never know who you are impacting.

Many of those 300+ people who attended the funeral had intersected at a particular point in time with Jim, some from his youth, others from work relationships, and of course, family–siblings for the whole ride, wife and children and grandchildren having the closest interactions.

Jim and my path crossed not because of farming, but because we were friends with his kids and our kids were friends with his grandkids. My first memory of Jim was at a soccer game. I was the coach and my son Stephen and Ian, Jim’s grandson, were playing a game. Grandpa and Grandma had come over for the weekend to take in the festivities. Throughout the funeral, it was apparent that Grandpa and Grandma had made participating in their children and grandchildren’s lives a priority. Now many of you may not know many older farmers, but they are not that much different than other hardworking folks from that generation. Jim was still strong as an ox. You could tell from his handshake that he was well acquainted with work as his hand engulfed yours followed by a steady strong look into your eyes that communicated trust and respect–and maybe a little measure of how many 3 string bales of Alfalfa you could stack! Our relationship was a new one and far too short. Every day each of us get an opportunity to bless someone, sometimes for a moment or a little longer or a lifetime. We will never know most of the impacts that we will have on many of those relationships, but last weekend was a reminder to me to make the most of every one of them.

In every relationship, every interaction, let’s be generous and kind in all that we do because when we pass from this life to the next, our impact on our local communities will be through those relationships and the generations still here. Jim’s life left an impact on at least 300 + people, including mine.

Tristan Klesick, Farmer/Health Advocate