In my last post I told you about my childhood gardening memories. The year we grew the huge potato harvest was the year of “The Incident”. It involved me, Mom, Daddy, my grandmother’s car and house, and a 1963 Ford Tractor. I was 10 years old.
My mom, dad and I were harvesting potatoes. Daddy was driving the tractor and Mom and I were picking up the potatoes. When we were done, my dad told me to take the tractor back down to the yard. (To get to our garden, we had to climb the hill behind our house.)
I don’t know why he thought a 10-year-old could drive an old tractor. I suppose that in his mind, all 10-year-olds should be able to handle “the basics”. Handling a tractor was a basic life necessity to him. He was one of 15 children, raised on a farm in the 1940’s and 1950’s. By the time he was 10, driving a tractor, collecting eggs, milking the cows and gathering the harvest and hanging tobacco were all old-hat to him.
We didn’t live on a farm. I’m an only child. I didn’t have the “basics” down yet.
Anyway, being a sassy 10-year-old, I took off on the tractor, and down the hill I went. Then I realized I couldn’t stop it. I don’t remember if the brakes weren’t working properly, or if I wasn’t applying them correctly, but I couldn’t stop.
My mom noticed that I was in trouble. Mom’s have that ability, you know. She ran down the hill and was trying to keep me from hitting my grandmother’s car, a fantastic 1973 Chevy Nova. (I’m a car girl.) My grandmother lived in the house next to ours.
I steered clear of the car, but I still couldn’t stop. Then my mom ran in front of me ( !!!! ) to try to keep me from hitting my grandmother’s house. The tractor kept moving forward; mom started backing away, but wasn’t getting out of the way.
I pinned her up against my grandmother’s house with the tractor.
I thought I’d killed her.
She was fine. That model of tractor had front wheels that sat way out in front of the nose of the tractor, so when the front wheels hit the house, there was still 12 inches or so of space between the house and the nose of the tractor.
Still, my 10-year-old mind was traumatized. I cried for hours and I refused to EVER get on a tractor again. In fact, I was in my late twenty’s before I even got on a riding lawnmower.
This afternoon I got back in the saddle. My dad needed some help moving a pile of dirt and he asked me if I felt like I could drive the tractor. I gave it a try.
I did fine. I learned that tractors are easier to control now. They have power steering and brake pedals and clutches that are easy to operate. I even learned how to raise and lower the bucket!
Confidence is a powerful thing. It allows you to try things that you never thought you could do. I’ve become more confident with age and with my weight loss. I don’t hide as much as I used to. I’ve started to realize that I’m as valuable as anyone else and that I have no reason to shy away from something I think I can do.
My mom is older now, but still fine. My dad still expects me to learn more of “the basics”, and I’m ok with that. I think it’ll be fun to learn more about farming. That fabulous 1973 Nova has been restored and lives with my cousin Bobby. Unfortunately, my grandmother passed away in 1997. I still miss her every day. That 1963 Ford tractor has been replaced with a 1999 Kubota tractor.
And I’m no longer afraid to drive it.