From Pipi’s Pasture: Saying goodbye
On January 3 I lost my husband Lyle after 54 years of marriage. We were high school sweethearts so I knew Lyle for ten years before we were married—64 years is a long time.
Lyle survived a heart attack in early August 2019 and was recovering from it, but he had a number of other serious health issues that caused numerous hospital stays. However, in October he helped us move cows home from summer pasture and even drove the tractor a couple of times to help me feed them. More problems followed, but Lyle was able to stay at home where he died. It has taken me some time to “re-boot,” getting used to life (if I ever will) without him.
I’m writing this column as I wait for a stock tank to fill with water, and as I look around Pipi’s Pasture, I see Lyle everywhere. I see him in the tractor as he pulls a trailer full of bales around the feedlot so that I can feed hay off to the cows. He watches through the back window of the tractor for my signal to stop or pull ahead. Sometimes he gets down to help me untangle twine or pull stubborn hay off a big bale.
I can see Lyle pushing through the cows that stand around the trailer. He had a gentle way with cows, much more effective than my excitable reactions. I can hear him calling, “Come on, cows, come on.”
One job he enjoyed was tagging newborn calves and giving them their first preventative injections. I see him pulling a calf to the ground as its mother stands there, mooing. I never saw a cow try to “take” Lyle.
I can see the shop from where I’m filling the stock tank. Lyle is sitting there in his swivel chair (a hand-me-down from his office). He watches as his children, grandchildren, and friends play pool or work on their vehicles. There was one rule: put everything away and clean up.
That rule applied to me, too, so last spring when we had to put numerous calves in the shop to warm up and get “started” on their moms, I had to clean up their mess. I even ended up mopping the shop floor.
I can see Lyle as he positions an electric heater in front if a calf so it can get dry, as he helps feed it a first bottle of milk, and as he pets the calf when it gets up and takes those first steps.
Two weeks ago I could imagine that Lyle was watching me as I hunted for an outdoor cat that somehow sneaked into the shop when I was gathering up my tank-filling hoses. He did not approve of cats visiting the shop.
I glance at the backyard at the house. Lyle could be found there, mowing the grass with the ride mower as cows watched and waited. They knew they were in for a treat of clippings. I can also see Lyle inspecting the fruit trees to detect signs of frost on the blossoms or later for bugs that might destroy the apples.
And there is so much more to remember—there aren’t enough words in the column. My fondest recent memory, however, comes from last summer, after we had hunted up some cows. He is wearing his white striped shirt and leaning over the pickup bed, looking out over summer pasture.
Lyle, you will always be here with your family—sons Jody and wife Cindy and Jamie and wife Brandi; grandchildren Kenny, Megan, Jessica, and Jayce; and great-grandchildren Luna and Brian; and me. It’s goodbye for now.