This week, exactly two years after losing my father, we lost his best friend and one of our employees Marlyn Bates. Marlyn has been a mainstay in our family and our farm since Dad was a kid. Marlyn worked part time for our farming operation for around 50 years. He pre-dates me so, I am not exactly which year he started helping out but I am sure it was throwing bales or something similar in high school for my Grandfather Gaylon. Marlyn got to see and work for three different generations on our farm.
It is not very often someone works for somebody for 50 years. It in fact is rather uncommon in any profession. Marlyn got to see how things changed over the years, and there are many a story to be told, some to not be told along with some we will just forget. In talking with Greg today who also has worked with Marlyn for twenty plus years, the one thing we both said is he always made us laugh and brought joy and laughter to situations where no one else would dare joke.
Marlyn served many years as the “buffer” between my father and I in my teenage formative years and talked us both off the cliff many times when we were angry at each other (See above about cracking jokes when no one else would dare). The fact is, Marlyn is probably the adult male I knew best outside of my father. We spent a lot of time together in every situation imaginable. We broke things, got things stuck, unstuck, pulled calves, rode horses, drank beer, he told me stories about my father he probably shouldn’t have, we chased cows, cows chased us, and about any other thing you can think of on the farm. Most of all, he was the one there with me as we loaded Dad in the hearse after the funeral, and I never will forget how hard that was hitting him, us both there crying and blubbering, yet he was only worried about me and my family and making sure he was there for us. You see, that was Marlyn. He was always there. He was the guy that would give you the shirt off his own back no matter what.
We are lucky to have known Marlyn and his family all of these years and thankful to his family for all of the time he spent out working on our farm. Many times he would have one of his kids and a few grandkids along for a ride in the semi at harvest. For him, family was the most important thing! We will miss having Batesy around making us laugh, stopping in to see what we were working on, tormenting the guys in the shop, cracking jokes, telling stories and just bringing a little lighter side to everything. All of us have a number on our VHF radio system and Marlyn was Unit 3. He was the one keeping our spirits up during long harvest days along with my Uncle Gary. Thursday we will celebrate Marlyn’s life and the way he impacted those around him. Keep on Truckin Unit 3 and give Unit 1 a hug for us!