Saturday, November 10, 2012

Flying Solo

Never know what going to come flying at you from moment to moment. Never know. Out of the blue something comes at you that knocks you right off your feet. It's called life....and death. Transition always follows. Sometimes it needs a boost.

Last night I had a message that my cousin's widow had died suddenly in her sleep. Age 57. A woman who always had a ready laugh. A woman who was raising her grandchildren. Life as her family had known it changed overnight.

We are farmers. Well, I was a farmer. Well, I grew up on a farm...farming. To farmers the land is everything. Often farms are handed down father to son. The land is our history. My mother lived on the same square mile of land all but a short period of her life. When we gave up our farm after my parents died, it was the same as losing another parent. The land had been our lifeline. But for three sisters living in various states, we could not keep the farm. A fact that still hurts.

the original Johnson homestead
 My cousin was trying to reclaim all of the land that had once been the Johnson homestead. It was a passion returning the land to the family once more. When a local farm would sell, he would buy up the land. He decided to form an LLC giving equal portions to his children and to their spouses. His intent was good. Or was it? A few years back, my cousin died leaving the corporation to his child and stepchildren (and their spouses). A well-intended plan ran amok. A divorced and a death of a stepson changed the face of the LLC. Grandchildren stepped up to continue the farm work. Now one more of the original members is gone. This is the second LLC I've seen work against the children who are part of it.

My cousin is at a loss as to what to do now. She feels obligated to keep the LLC going yet she is ready to put it behind her and for once move on with her life the way she wants it. The roots to the soil have been an anchor that controls her life. The guilt of giving up on it borders on painful. It wasn't my business, but I am one of the last of the Johnson family, and she is very dear to me.

"It's time to move on," I told her. "Break up the LLC and live your life."

"Do you think it's okay. I feel like I'm letting Dad down."

Obligation is a very strong word. Often guilt and sadness follow in its wake. Walking away from tradition is not an easy thing. Giving up soil that has the sweat of all of our family within its dark depths is no easy decision. She wants to move on with her life with the new man in her life. She is tired of the stress of the LLC and her obligation to her father. It is a new day and age. She has paid her dues to the past. I gave her permission as the family elder to give up the LLC and move on.

We have no right to burden our children with our wants and desires. In trying to protect his family, my cousin locked them into a situation that has used them as pawns. One could not move without affection the others. We need to give our families their freedom. We are the past starting the day we are born. We should be born with wings to fly. As a parent, it is our responsibility to help those we love. To help them fly solo.

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