"It’s an emergency.” – This is the text I received in 2012, after missing a call from my mom.
My dad was never a huge fan of school. All he ever wanted was to farm. Midway through high school he went on independent study just so he could spend more time farming. There was never a question in his mind about what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.
In the early 90’s he bought his first farm outside Rio Vista, California. That’s where my childhood was spent. I remember running barefoot everywhere and getting lost in the rows of corn. Around 2007 we moved to a farm outside Walnut Grove.
After high school I decided to go to Chico State to study Ag Business. On a Saturday, in March of 2012, I was on an extra credit field trip. Shortly after I arrived my mom called me. I knew I was about to start getting busy so I didn’t answer. I promptly received a text saying, “It’s an emergency.” I remember the very first thought I had was that my childhood dog had passed away. She was in her teens, and it was a sad thought for me. Never in my wildest nightmares did I think I was going to hear what my mom said to me. “Your dad has been in an accident, you need to come home right now.”
I grabbed a friend that was with me and he drove me the 2 hours from Chico, to Kaiser, in South Sacramento. At the time, this was the longest 2 hours of my life. I cried the entire drive. I was confused, I didn’t have any other information. Was he in a car accident? Did he drive into the river?
When we arrived at Kaiser my entire family was sitting in the emergency waiting room. It wasn’t long before I learned what had really happened to my dad.
My dad was loading a piece of equipment into a carry-all. Carry-alls are similar to trailers, but they pick up pieces of equipment to help transport them, rather than putting equipment on top of a trailer. While loading the equipment into the carry-all, the weight shifting and the carry-all and equipment came tipping over, crushing my dad. My dad was pinned from the shoulders down, between the dirt and equipment. By some sort of miracle, he was able to dig his phone out of his front pocket. His first call was to the local fire chief, after not being able to reach him he called my mom. He told my mom he was badly hurt and needed help.
While on the phone with my mom, his employee Jose found him. He called 911 and used a tractor to get the equipment off my dad. Luckily, with the fire chief also being a farmer, he knew the ambulance would never find him out in the field. He immediately called for life flight. It look life flight 8 minutes to get my dad to Kaiser. Before my dad went into his first of many surgery, the doctors advised my mom and grandparents to say their goodbyes. The outcome was very uncertain. I was just leaving Chico at the time.
Over the next month my dad never gave up. My mom and I spent many nights sleeping on hospital couches, and I slept on the floor most of the time. My mom only spent 1 night away from my dad the entire time he was in the hospital. (PS My sister lived in Australia at the time. Can you imagine how she was feeling?!) His accident did not deter him. If anything, it lit a fire under him. He was so determined to get back to the farm.
After almost a month in the hospital and physical therapy, my dad came home in a wheel chair. I kid you not, I would come home and his wheel chair would be sitting in the car port and his truck was gone. Yea, I’m sure this was totally legal. We ended up having to make a deal with him that he could drive in the field but NOT ON THE ROAD. Who knows if he actually listened, as you should be able to tell by now, no one tells Aaron Beaver what he can or can’t do.
Every day he worked on getting stronger. Every day he went out to the field. It really didn’t matter if he was going to be in a wheel chair or not. Either way, he was going to be a farmer. But by his will power, and the Grace of God, he didn’t stay in a wheel chair. He worked on wiggling his toes every day. I can still remember getting a video from my mom where I could just barelyyyyy see those little toes moving. He walked in a walker, he walked with braces around his legs. And then one day… he just walked. Not just….. HE WALKED. It felt like a miracle, but a miracle because of all his hard work. Another video sent to me of him walking across the kitchen with his “swag limp” Oh it really was a beautiful day.
He is a miracle. Not just because. Because he fought for it. He was determined, and nothing was going to stop him. And every day I see him in the field, I remember that we can do anything. All of us.