Growing up, I was what you would call the misguided teen.  I wore my hair in my face.  Maybe I had one too many ear piercings.  And let’s not forget the attitude and the eye rolling! 

As a teen looking to the future, I career jumped (in my head) a lot. My family was (and still is) in health care so obviously, I was going to be a doctor.  But I'm horrible at math.

I loved books, so clearly, I'd be a writer.  But I had a deep-rooted love affair with commas.  To the point that no editor would ever think it’s cute or clever.

Maybe I'd be a cop and investigate the crimes committed against in my community. But I'm afraid of the dark (just ask the corgi mix puppy we just house trained). 

I was yearbook editor my senior year (despite my affinity for commas) so clearly, I'd go into the newspaper business. But despite my curiosity the newspaper business just wasn’t for me.

I interned in radio, so I'd be a drive time host. But I hate mornings and I’m not a night owl. In the end, I spent a year a community college on scholarship "finding my way" as my mother liked to tell our family and friends. 

Quite frankly “my way” found me my senior year of college as I was impatiently waiting to hear back from law schools. As a favor to a friend, I joined her at a career fair and was soon offered at internship at the state capitol and a three-bedroom house with a pond in Rochester.  I can't honestly say that I never looked back, the law school admission letter was quite tempting but I threw on my high heels and walked the halls of the capitol for nearly six years. 

My husband on the other hand has always had the luxury of knowing exactly what he was going to do after college.  As a child, he worked alongside his father and grandfather, Pop.  His well-worn path through the field from his house to his grandparents’ house still stands as a testament to the many times his feet traveled over it.

As a young boy, he’d ask his dad and Pop when he would be big enough to milk the cows, drive a tractor, and farm.  When his family told him that he was too little to drive a combine, he built his own from scrap parts and leftover metal.  When his family told him that he was too little to milk the cows, he tamed down “Magic” and she followed him all over the farm and eventually to the county fair.

My husband worked alongside Pop until he retired and turned his attention to tending his garden, apple trees, and a few calves.  Unfortunately, Pop retired before my blue-eyed girl or big-little boy had the chance to work alongside him.

In February, surrounded by family, friends, and apple crisps we said a quiet goodbye to Pop.  After listening to the stories and sharing our own, I realized that unless you had worked with Pop you never really knew him.  And I’m so sorry that my kids won’t have the opportunity to ask their great grandfather if they were big enough to milk the cows, drive a tractor, farm.  

Three generations of Heinsohn family farmers- (from left) Johnathan, Gilman, Jeff, Steve, and John.  (Photo taken by Mariam Wassmann, DeKalb County Farm Bureau®)