By Trevor Barton 06-18-2013
Farmer walking in a corn field, Sandra Cunningham /

Farmer walking in a corn field, Sandra Cunningham /

Grandpa, you are my Pepa. Before me, you were
Robert Elias Cunningham: son, brother, husband and father but
God, through my birth, made you Grandpa and
I, in my smallness, through toddling talk and wondering words, made you 

Now, deep in my life, I feel you kneeling in your garden,
Planting your plants,
Your skin the color of newly plowed rows, your smell the humble smell of dirt.
Sweat drips off your forehead and mixes with rain and soil and
Nourishes the plants so they can grow.

Your heart, faithful and soft, is a red, big, beautiful
Better Boy Tomato
Swaying softly in whispering winds of
Southern summer skies.

Your soul, bright and gentle, is a yellow ear of
Sweet corn
Wrapping itself gently in tender husks,
Protecting itself from searing sun, wooly worms and harsh hours.

Your mind, persistent and broad, is an experienced
Briggs and Stratton motor 
Running a plow, working through problems, fixing anything,
Accepting me, allowing me to grow as the
Land accepts the seed and allows it to grow.

Your strength, helping and enduring, is a trusty
Farmall tractor,
Helping keep the farmer from struggling behind a mule and a plow,
Enduring almost a hundred years,
Puttering, held together with baling wire and Duck tape, down one more row.

Pepa, you are our favorite farmer and
Just as you sowed your seed and gathered your garden
So you sow 
Faith, hope and love into your family's
Hearts, souls, minds and strengths and
Gather us to you.
We love you my Grandpa, my Pepa, my friend.

Trevor Scott Barton is an elementary school teacher in Greenville, S.C. He is a blogger for the Teaching Tolerance project of the Southern Poverty Law Center. 

Image: Farmer walking in a corn field, Sandra Cunningham /

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