I guess it was John Denver who started the whole “almost heaven, West Virginia” business with his “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” A very good song, in my opinion. And an accurate sentiment for the most part.
Goodness knows, when I step foot on the farm that’s been in my family for seven generations I feel about as close to heaven as I can get on earth.
Almost heaven still isn’t heaven.
My dad is facing some tough personal issues including a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease. His situation is complex, but the upshot is that the family farm could be at risk. My brother and I are doing our best to save it, but at some point it may be out of our hands. Beyond our means.
And once upon a time, this would have devastated me.
That farm and the seven generations of history it represents are a big part of how I define myself. How I see myself. Like when your identity is wrapped up in your job or your children or your community.
The first time I thought about it, losing the farm felt like losing an arm or a leg. I would live, but it would take some major adjustments and a new way of relating to the world.
But since then I’ve had time to think about it and as much as I love the farm, it’s not really my home. Heaven is my home and there’s no way I can lose that.
I hope we save the farm. I hope we see many more generations of Loudin children running wild in the pastures and the woods. I hope we see the land stay in the family and find new life in future generations.
But if we don’t, that’s okay. Because almost heaven isn’t.