“Honey, the Lord told me on the way home tonight how blessed I should feel to have a godly husband like you,” said Carol as we slipped into bed at the end of a long weekday.
“That may be true, but I’m going to shoot Fern,” I said looking at the ceiling.
“Sweetheart, what?” she said, her green eyes blinking in unbelief.
“After I shoot her, I might hang her by the neck, and then drop her over a steep cliff.”
“Dear, that’s not like you at all. You wouldn’t hurt anyone, especially my mom.”
“After today, I’ve changed my mind about a lot of things. I just might shoot her right between the eyes.”
We rolled over and fell to sleep.
This conversation actually took place in Glidden, Iowa, when Carol and I stayed at her mom’s five-acre farm. Fern was seventy-eight years old at the time, but don’t go thinking her age caused her to be a weak link in the local farming scene. Nothing could have been further from the truth. If anything, she still resembled a pioneer woman ready to hitch up a Conestoga wagon with a pair of oxen and head over the Rockies to Oregon.
Everything had been great between Fern and me up until that week. Her humor and intelligence made her a joy to be around, but all of the warm fuzzies ended when sweet corn season arrived.
Now, let me set the stage, okay?
The late July temperatures hovered near one hundred degrees with the humidity approaching tropical rainforest levels. No air conditioning. Ten zillion, pesty, ornery farm flies, and two acres of sweet corn. Carol worked for a company in Carroll, Iowa, and I had just finished detasseling corn for a hybrid seed corn company.
“Larry, would you like to help harvest some sweet corn?” asked Fern one morning.
“Sure, of course,” I said, not foreseeing any problems.
The next four days were an absolute “hell on earth” for me. The heat, humidity, and flies took their toll, but what pushed me over the edge were Fern’s drill sergeant’s tactics.
“Do this. Don’t do that. Be careful. Watch out. Grab this. Let go. It’s not that hot outside. Can’t you go a little faster? What’s wrong with you?”
She counted the number of pints of corn already done on the fourth day.
“We’ve already done one hundred and twenty pints so far, which is a record for me, but I know we can do at least two hundred pints, maybe even more.”
Her eyes gleamed with the possibilities of being listed in the Guinness World Recordsand the Prairie Farmer. That night I spouted off to Carol about offing her mom.
The next morning, I crept out of bed at an early hour and tiptoed down to the family room. There I dropped to my knees on the carpet.
“Lord, what’s my problem? Why do I want to shoot a sweet, seventy-eight year old lady?” I prayed.
The Lord spoke to my heart after a long while: “You’ve given up on senior citizens. You think they just want to collect their social security checks and sit on porches, taking it easy until they die. You don’t believe I will use them in a move of My Spirit in America.” Then, He added, “I haven’t given up on them and neither should you. Repent of your attitudes.”
I repented before the Lord that morning.
Fern Fielder, a great mother-in-law (1920 to 2008).
(Taken from my memoir, The Hunt for Larry Who, by Larry Nevenhoven, © 2014, Amazon eBook)