The cancer came on like a summer thunderstorm
He was one of those relatives where you don’t really know exactly how you’re related, but you’re just proud to have him as part of your family. I think he was a cousin once or twice removed, but I’m not even sure what "removed" means. Just that he and his family were always around at big family events when I was a kid. When we would gather at my Grandpa and Grandma Atwood’s farm, or at Aunt Alice’s "in town," or at the family reunion in Fairfield where we would play horseshoes and eat deviled eggs, he was there.
As I got older and started having a family of my own, I did not see him or his lovely wife Dorian for years. Then last summer, during, GATAAH, we reconnected. He had all of us over to their incredible farm, where the girls and their cousins saw the animals, and climbed in tractors, and tormented some baby pigs.
I took me a minute to understand why his passing is causing me to have such a heavy heart. Certainly it’s because it sure seems like he was too young. And unfair that he and Dorian were set to embark on a new adventure building a new home, and watching their son take the lead on the family farm. Also because he was a good man who loved his family, and his land, and his God and that is reason enough to be sad.
But I think the main reason I am sad that he is gone is because he loved my children. He spent a sunny afternoon, a very valuable commodity to an Iowa farmer, letting my kids wander around his farm. He answered their questions, and showed them the baby pigs, and helped them up in the big, big tractors.
On that day we were at his farm in Packwood Iowa, all was well and good with the world. But just a few weeks later the cancer came on like an Iowa summer thunderstorm. Unexpected, little warning, and with a wrath and fury unnameable.
And just 12 months later, Norman was gone.
Rest in peace Norman. Thanks for loving my kids.