Author shares important life lessons learned from his grandparents about marriage, hard work and a positive attitude.
Story by Tom Reidel
Peralta, New Mexico
My grandparents Ira and Leona Crumbaugh taught me many life lessons on my visits to their Missouri farm, but no lesson was more important than the one they taught by example. They were quite the team to behold, and while they may have suffered hardships and losses, my grandparents remained undefeated in marriage.
Grandpa’s dream was to be an engineer, and he was well on his way to becoming one when the family funds were lost in a bank failure during the Great Depression. He reluctantly came home from college and found work on a river crew.
After they married, my grandparents began farming on ground near the city of Glasgow using horse-drawn implements. The story goes that Grandma would walk to the field with dinner and take up the lines, continuing to drive while Grandpa ate. When Grandpa was full and rested, he would go back to farming, while Grandma collected the dishes and walked home.
The land they farmed was good fertile ground but, being bottomland, it was susceptible to flooding. They lost more than one valuable crop and were occasionally forced to leave their house when the river breached the levee. Once, the water rose so fast Grandpa had to use a rowboat to collect the family through a second-floor window. They took up residence in a vacant home that a neighbor let them borrow.
Their stay was short: A flue fire spread through the attic and consumed the house and most of its contents. But they pulled together and moved into a house owned by my great-grandma. Eventually they saved enough to buy a small farm near Slater. Machinery gradually replaced their horse-drawn implements, and while the advance was welcome, it was not without a setback: Grandpa lost three fingers of his left hand to a corn picker.
My grandparents suffered all these losses, but no one ever heard them complain. Grandpa always chalked up his misfortunes to what he called “Crumbaugh luck.” It intrigued me that he always smiled when he talked about it. To me, it sure seemed that having Crumbaugh luck was nothing to smile or be happy about.
Grandpa respected and attended to Grandma’s every need, and she willingly gave back all that she received.
My grandparents parted after 57 years of marriage on Sept. 11, 1994, when Grandpa passed away. On Dec. 28, 1995, Grandma returned to his side.
As for me, I married my own angel, Cindy. We recently celebrated our 25th anniversary, and we, too, are quite the team. We have one son, Nicholas, who will receive his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Colorado State University next year. His great-grandpa Ira would have been so proud.
I am truly a very lucky man, but that is to be expected. You see, I inherited a wealth of life lessons about the Crumbaugh luck, and now I understand why Grandpa always smiled when he spoke of it.
Having Crumbaugh luck means you are destined to find a soul mate who will stand by your side in the best and worst of times. And while your living may be hard-earned, your life will be nothing less than rich.