Something worth fighting for
Long black cars have made me nervous since a convoy of them turned into our driveway in 1964. Doors opened and men in dark suits swarmed across the property. I was eight and old enough to feel the fear and hostility in the air. My mother cried in a back bedroom. My father sat on a wagonload of bailed hay and watched the proceedings with a rage carved so deeply on his face that the remnants linger after all these years.
I ran to my mother, “What is happening? Who are these people? What are they doing?”
“Ask your father,” she responded between clenched teeth.
My father stared straight ahead without speaking.
An army of 18-wheelers appeared and parked nose to butt along one side of Posey Road. I had to do something so I walked right into the crowd of men and listened to what they were saying.
Should we start with the farm machinery?
Does everything go? Chickens and pigs, too?
They have about 500 head of Black Angus cows. Load them on the trucks.
Later I learned that my father had defaulted on a loan with The Farmers Home Administration (FHA) and I was witnessing the death of our farm. That day I learned that the word “foreclosure” means if you don’t pay your bills, men in long black cars can take your life away.
The 18-wheelers moved to various places around the house and farm. One drove into our yard and men loaded almost everything in sight. Three flatbed trucks parked across the road. Plows, a harrow, a bush hog, two John Deere tractors, and other farm implements were loaded and hauled away. My heart jumped into my throat and I could barely breathe. I walked through the crowd sobbing, begging them to stop. My world was falling apart and no one would tell me why.
One of the suits motioned to a younger man in a plaid shirt, “Hey, Nick, load the cows. Keep count of them. Look through all the barns. Don’t leave anything.”
I turned and ran, leaving the madness at the house behind. Daisy was in our second barn and I had to get to her. I would not allow her to be loaded onto a truck and taken away. She was mine -- a cream and white-colored Jersey with soft black eyes. She had been mine since I fed her from a bottle the night she was born. I loved that sweet animal. She was the definition of gentle. She never fussed at my bungling attempts to milk her. She loved to be petted and nuzzled her head against me to show her gratitude. Daisy eagerly accepted apple pieces I offered her, her tongue rubbing roughly across my hand.
I was out of breath when I reached the barn. Daisy stood calmly inside her pen. I placed a rope around her neck and, still sobbing, led my 800-pound friend across the back pasture, through a gate, beside the muscadine bushes, across the dam between two ponds, and deep into the woods. She followed me easily, never tugging or trying to get away. Did she sense my panic? Maybe, but my one goal in life was hiding and protecting my cow. My biggest fear was that she might MOO and unintentionally lead the bad guys to our hiding place! I kept watch, prepared to do whatever necessary to fight to keep my doggone milk cow.
I found what seemed to be a safe clearing and sat on the ground. Before long, Daisy joined me and let me pet her soft face until the sun was setting. Nary a MOO was uttered!
When the crickets and frogs began their nighttime lullaby, Daisy and I walked quietly out of the woods, across the dam, past the muscadines, and into the back pasture. The Black Angus cows were gone. Not wanting to leave Daisy alone in the barn, we walked back to our house. Things were still and quiet until my father, sitting on the front porch, noticed Daisy escorting me home. Realizing that at least one cow was saved boosted his spirits and he laughed loudly as I tied Daisy to a tree near my bedroom window.
I’m not sure how long I worried that I broke the law and would be hauled to jail in a long black car. But, I never regretted what I did. I would take her into the woods all over again because Daisy was worth fighting for.
After all these years, I’ve learned to choose my battles. Not everything is worth fighting for. Still, some things are not up for grabs. I will struggle to live a life that reflects God, a life of integrity, compassion, and truthfulness. I will wrestle to forgive so that hope and love will flourish and leave no room for hate and anger. I will fight to grow in faith and maintain my joy in all circumstances. How I do this is my witness for God.
God will give us the strength we need to face any circumstance. And when we are called on to fight a good fight, may we choose wisely and pick a “Daisy!”