• Beth Hoffman

A Hammer to the Head


The offending plank of wood sat at the top of the fence.

There are any number of dangerous and dumb things one could do on a farm to get hurt, like trying to pull out a nail from a board at face height, only to have the hammer slip and hit you squarely in the bridge of the nose. Which is just what I did last week while rebuilding a bit of fence. As the pain radiated across my forehead, I walked in dazed circles wondering if I had broken my already well-endowed nose, then sat down in the snow-crusted grass and bawled like a 3-year old. John got me up and held my hand as we walked across the yard to the tiny house, snot running down my face, little kid-like moans and sobs bubbling out of me.


In days filled with chores and “did you remember to do X and to call Y” the world suddenly stops when even small tragedy arises. The whir of machinery silences, tools are dropped and tasks aborted. Without warning, life takes a 90 degree turn in a new direction, one you did not anticipate. And for hard headed people like me, these moments puncture the facade of control and the predictability of life, and emotion rushes in. Tears gush like water out of a punctured well, and everything that is wrong with the world gets channeled through them.


A few days later, the scab was not even that big.

Once we reached the house, I laid on the couch, John above me gently inspecting. My nose was bleeding, but not badly; it was red but did not swell. It was not broken, just a big old scrape across the top of it from where the hammer head hit. The kind of scab days later everyone you meet notices but asks nothing about. My head throbbed and John made me ramen noodles and tea, told me bad jokes and danced around to the B52s Quiche Loraine. He made me smile and I stopped crying. I crawled into bed and slept.


It is easy to see life as just a series of things to accomplish. The upside if hitting myself in the face with a hammer is that it reminded me that life is also about the people in it. John was there throughout, to help me figure out how hurt I actually was, to hold my hand and walk with me while my eyes were too filled with tears to see. He took care of me. Me - a stubborn pain in the ass, the kind of person who even as a kid had to do everything herself, who to this day asks “why” about every single thing we do on the farm. It was just John being John – telling jokes and holding my hand – but it was exactly what I needed.


The finished fence

Now, it is Thanksgiving next week. This literal and metaphoric hammer to my head makes me thankful for the love around me. *Thanks* for reading and have a wonderful Thanksgiving. We are so grateful for all of you.


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