By Rep. Kristi Noem
Pierre, S.D. (KELO AM) - This past week was the 20th anniversary of the farm accident that claimed my Dad’s life.
March is always a difficult month for our family as we can’t help but reflect on that day. It was a split-second decision, but it led to a devastating loss for us all.
Dad was a hard worker, tough and always in a hurry. We all wish he would have slowed down enough to realize just how dangerous it was to enter that bin of moldy corn on March 10. At the time, I kept telling myself: “Just get through another day. This will get easier.”
While we all eventually learned our new roles and took on more responsibilities, I still miss him every single day. It didn’t get any easier to get along without him and I only have to look around at my children and nieces and nephews to see all that he has missed. He would have loved being a grandpa.
My mom has now spent 20 years alone. We talked about that the other day when I stopped by to see how she was doing on that anniversary we both didn’t really want to think about.
As always, I was amazed at her optimism.
She spoke of all the blessings in her life and how good friends saw her through lonely days and the challenges of adjusting to becoming a widow. If there is a phrase to sum up my mom, Corinne Arnold, it would be “compassionate peacemaker.”
My grandpa used to tell us about how when my mom married my dad she didn’t even know how to run the lawn mower. When he went to visit her at the farm a couple weeks after the wedding, he had to go out to the south quarter to find her where she was digging with the biggest tractor he’d ever seen! He was amazed at how quickly she transitioned from “city girl” to “farm wife.” And he was proud of her.
I’m proud of her too.
This month is National Women’s History month. It’s a time where we remember women like Susan B. Anthony who fought so women could vote, Katharine Graham who was the first female CEO of a Fortune 500 company, and Condoleezza Rice, the first female African-American Secretary of State. These women have opened opportunities for others. But for most of us, I think it’s our own moms, sisters and daughters who we consider to be the most influential women in our lives.
I know my mom may not be famous or have her name printed in history books, but to me, she deserves recognition.
When others may have quit because of a tragedy, she pulled her family together and kept a third-generation farm going. She believed in her children enough to trust them to make important business decisions and grow into their new roles as managers of a family business. She took risks to ensure that no matter what, my dad’s dream of all his kids farming together could be realized, even after his death.
What she gave me through her determination and love was the gift of farming with my siblings. And when I see our children, her 15 grandchildren, growing up as close as brothers and sisters, I am overwhelmed by the unique blessing we enjoy because of her sacrifice.
Today, please take time to recognize the women who have shaped your life. They may be famous to the world – or famous in your family for their love, courage, and determination.
Corinne Arnold is quite a woman. I love her with all my heart and I am so grateful God saw it fit for me to call her Mom.