A week ago today I traveled to Ringsted, Iowa with my parents and sister to celebrate the life of Dean Moore, my dad's brother. Dean passed away on July 21, 2017 after 79 years of living.
My memories of Dean were always connected to the “home-farm,” a small plot of land that was west of Ringsted. Dean lived in a two-story farm house at the entrance of the homestead while my grandparents lived in a small house about 150 yards away. Dean lived almost his entire life in that two-story farm house. He grew up in it as a boy with his four brothers and one sister; my dad was the youngest in the family. Dean then raised his own family in that house and lived there until the last week(s) of his life.
When I was growing up many family celebrations were held on the “home farm.” Because I lived in Worthington, Minnesota, I was a “city slicker,”a label Dean would never stop using to describe me. These family celebrations involved a huge pot-luck dinner after church on a Sunday and then exploring the farm with my cousins. The farm was Dean’s territory. With a mischievous grin on his face he would warn me about playing tag on the barn roof, or sliding down the rope on the tree house that was at the top of a tree that seemed at least 50 yards in the air, or playing in the many junked cars on the farm.
And just as Dean probably wanted these are the “activities” my cousins and I would find ourselves doing.
As a “city slicker” I fell into the trap that Dean set. I had to be rescued by my dad from playing tag on the barn roof (farm kids would jump off the barn roof, but a city slicker wouldn’t). I blistered my hands from sliding down the rope on the tree house. I had to go to the emergency room when I hit my head while playing in one of the junked cars.
Dean wouldn’t want me to get hurt, but he loved to remind this “city slicker” of my “mistakes” (and he would remind me in a loud voice with colorful language).
Dean was a twin—his brother Gene was his “womb mate.” So the phrase “Dean and Gene” was part of our family lexicon. The two of them ran the farm. When I spent a week on the farm every summer Dean and Gene would come into my grandmother’s house at about 10:00 in the morning for a break. They would solve the world’s problems together—with some help from my grandmother’s sweets.
I hadn’t seen Dean for a while, but I always carried these memories with me. And I always knew that on a small homestead surrounded by corn that was literally as tall as an elephant’s eye lived a man who gave his life to farming the land. His roots ran deeper than that tall corn.
On Tuesday, July 25 a short family funeral was shared at 1st Presbyterian Church in Ringsted, Iowa (the church through which my own Presbyterian lineage came). It seemed that the whole town came to pay their respects to Dean. The line went down the center aisle of the church and out into the warm and muggy July night (good corn growing weather). After the visitation the community went to the local bar (Dean paid) to pay their last respects. The atmosphere was raucous and loud. Dean would have loved it.
Dean wasn’t a religious man, but he always believed in some sort of God. The Psalmist wrote about him.
“He is like a tree
Planted by streams of water
That yield its fruit in its season
In all that they do they prosper”
Praise God for the life of Dean Moore!