One more up and down

Published 8:56 am Wednesday, June 22, 2011

It was a common refrain heard throughout their married life. There was always one more field to plant, one more acre to spray, one more weed to pull. Friday night guests often saw “Jimbo” Lewis slip in five minutes late, take a quick shower and sit down wet-haired in mid-meal.

His wife of 30 years, Becky, having tolerated it for so long, learned to bite her tongue until the guests had departed. Even then, it had little effect save to allay her frustrations, for the following week a new crisis would surface. It followed an ingrained pattern.

When their firstborn arrived, Jimbo missed his entrance into the world by five minutes. Five minutes! A big storm was coming through, and the cotton needed spraying, and the spray needed to dry on the plant 30 minutes and … well, you know how it is.

When “Junior” was in a school play in the sixth grade called “Alligator Wings,” Jimbo was putting in a clutch because he had to have that tractor the next day. But Becky told him how great Junior did and how he said his words really loud so even those in the back could hear.

When their daughter, Ginny, made 20 points in basketball one night, there was no way Jimbo could have been there. Hurricane Ike was coming through, and Jimbo had 100 acres of mature peanuts left to dig that could not stand a 6-inch rain. There was just no way.

Sundays saw Becky and the kids on the way to church, riding by Jimbo picking wheat or spraying peanuts or hauling corn.

“That stuff is for women and children,” he would say.

Besides, look how much more he could get done. He couldn’t let a day go to waste.

Jimbo did come to see his daughter’s prom dress. It was light blue with lace on the sleeves and he told her she was beautiful.

When Junior hit a home run in the third inning, Jimbo missed it by two innings. He arrived in the fifth. But Junior told him all about it, every little detail.

But that was awhile back. In fact, I saw Junior at the gas station last Sunday morning. He’s 26 now. Can you believe it?

“Come to church with me,” I ventured, hoping not to sound too preachy.

“Can’t,” he said. “Planting soybeans today.”

He has his father’s eyes and smile. I think Junior is going to make a pretty good farmer, don’t you?

Rex Alphin is a farmer, businessman and contributing columnist for The Tidewater News. His email address is