Sleep When the Wind Blows

I’m not going to wax philosophic about the death of my grandfather, because for the most part this blarg tries to take a positive, or at least proactive, spin on things, and not a lot is to be gained by sitting around lamenting things that might have been different if only … well, fill in the blank. But I feel I ought to say something about it, if only to justify (and remedy) the blank spaces that have been hanging around here this week.

Somewhere in the midst of all the sadness and confusion and existential doubt and thoughts of the void that awaits us all, it came to light that my grandfather was exceptionally well-prepared for his passing. (I should maybe not say well-prepared, because who of us is ever well-prepared to die?) What I mean is, he left all his affairs in order, sparing his wife and daughters from making any of the painful decisions that too many mourning families are left to make.

The minister at his service related a little story, and it sparked me enough to wipe the tears aside and jot something down on my notepad. It affected me enough that I wanted to relate it here.

It’s a story about a farmhand.

This farmhand goes to a farm looking for work. He speaks with the farmer, who asks him, “why should I hire you?”

And with cool confidence, the farmhand responds, “I can sleep when the wind blows.”

The farmer doesn’t rightly know what to make of that statement, but he likes the look of the boy, and he puts him to work. And things are fine — the boy does his work, takes good care of the farm, and keeps things running in good order.

Photo by Richard Walker.
Photo by Richard Walker.

Then, one night, a doozy of a storm kicks up. Clouds gather up in the distance, and before anybody knows what’s going on, the storm is upon them: trees lashing in the gales, rain pounding on the roof, thunder rattling the very ground. The farmer and his family get up in the night, expecting to find the animals going wild, the doors of the barn flapping open, the tack scattered all around…

But they don’t. They find all the animals neatly penned up, the doors securely shuttered and braced, the ropes and harnesses and everything else neatly stowed away. The storm rages on outside, but in the barn, it’s calm, peaceful even. And there, in the corner, the farmhand snoozes lazily away. While the wind blows.

Again, I’m not here to wax philosophic or poetic or any other -ics you might think of. But that story struck me, and, who knows. Maybe it’ll do something for you, too.

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