Runaway Tractor

Posted by on Jan 31, 2015 in Blog | 1 comment

Silently determined.  Two very apt words to describe Papa.  Of course “pop” psychology would label it passive aggressive, but no official medical degrees exist in this household so we can pick whatever words we want.


Infatuated with tractors. . . Another key description of my father and vital for this story.  In fact, many of my best memories of dad center around a tractor.  Standing on the side of the old Ford 2000 while we moved hay bales, riding on his lap on the Gravely mowing the family yard, or merely both of us riding in the truck pulling lawn mowers for the next job on the list.

Combining these two facets together are what ultimately led to our purchase of a third trampoline, a trip to the hospital and my mother defiantly stating, “That tractor has to go!”

Like a kid with a new toy, it’s hard to keep Papa away from using a new tractor, especially one sporting the John Deere stamp and a fresh coat of paint.  Cold weather or even a lack of any necessary job, could not hinder his desire to test out one of his newest purchases.

On a cool, spring day, I heard Jesse crying by the door heading out to the garage.  “What’s wrong?” I said with a bit of disbelief (it’s Jesse, he cries at many things).  In between sobs I heard, “the trampoline is broken.”  Ok, that got my attention.

Trampoline number 1 had been a Christmas gift the prior year that had resulted in a broken collarbone for Jesse five days later and then was summarily destroyed in the spring as a Kansas windstorm turned it into a gnarled mess.  I had vowed not to get another one but had been “persuaded” otherwise.  Now the thought of all my work assembling another trampoline being torn asunder had me a bit perturbed (to put it mildly).

The door flung open as I bolted outside to see the damage.  Turning to the west after exiting the garage, I was in shock.

Within feet of the house and sitting under the Bradford pear tree, was the pristine, yellow John Deere tractor sitting idle.  On the left side of the tractor, Dad panted, out of breath.  In front of the tree and tractor stood a mangled trampoline that had been pulled at least 15 to 20 feet from its home base.

“Dad, what happened?”

“I. . . I.. . .gotta get the tractor moved” was his response as he tried to haul his body back up into the seat.

“Dad, stop. Tell me what happened?”

“I. . . had to chase the tractor.  Didn’t want to hit the house.”  Still out of breath and the story definitely did not make sense.

“Ok, I can move the tractor.  Stop and tell me what happened.”

At this point, Kelly came rushing out of the garage and had the same look of disbelief at the sight.  “Stan, are you ok?  Why don’t you let JD move the tractor.”

Still out of breathe and now realizing he’s a bit out gunned, Dad gave in and stepped away from the tractor.  It was then that I noticed he was favoring his bad foot and realized not all was well.

Several minutes later, after maneuvering the tractor back into the barn and trying to figure out the story behind all of the tire tracks in the yard, I walked inside the house and into the kitchen area.  There, Dad sat in the chair with ice on his bad foot and Mom looking very concerned and upset.  Only then did I get the rest of the story.

Seeing a fence cover on the ground, Dad had put the tractor into neutral and hopped down to pick it up.  From here, things went down hill.  Reaching up to grab the steering wheel and climb into the seat, his hand unknowingly moved the gear stick into reverse.  He was promptly pushed to the ground as the machine headed backwards.

“I didn’t want to hit the propane tank or the electrical box” was Dad’s explanation for why he hopped up and started to hop/run in pursuit.  Of course, not hitting those two items left the trampoline as the main target.  Thank you trampoline for your sacrifice.

“How did your foot get hurt then?” I quickly asked.


When he caught up to the tractor, Dad managed to grab the gear shifter, but accidentally thrust into forward.  Thus sending the tractor wheel slightly over his right foot and ankle, which now was as a big as a grapefruit.  With foot about to be crushed the only reaction was to pull his hand down and push the tractor back into reverse.

“That’s when it started going towards the house,” he explained.  After mangling the trampoline and pushing that aside, the new John Deere was on course to smash into the side of the garage.

“So you ran after it again?”  I asked.  A head nod and “I got it right before it barely touched the trim.”  So now the story was complete.  Well, almost complete.

“Stan, why didn’t anyone know you were outside?” came the stern question from Mom.

“I was yelling for Help,” was the sheepish answer that brought a grin to my face.  Quickly Mom retorted, “How can anyone hear you with the noise of the tractor and no one knowing where you are?”  No comeback from Dad on that one.

Mom led the way to the car as I helped Dad maneuver to the garage.  Whether he liked it or not, he was going to the hospital.  Despite the damage, the tears from the boys, thoughts of our house blowing up and my dad potentially getting run over by a tractor I had to smile.  God had protected all of us despite our selfish thoughts and our inability to control circumstances.

My arm clung to Dad as we hobbled through the garage towards the car, I leaned into him and said, “Dad, if you ever do something like that again. . . let me know ahead of time and I’ll get the camera.  We can YouTube this and make a fortune.”  Painfully smiling, he got into the car and headed to the hospital.

After this fun event, the tractor was promptly traded for other useful items and I received the pleasure of assembling a third trampoline in a span of two years.  Now Papa will tell us where he’s going (most of the time) and all of us remember to thank God for his providential protection.


One Comment

  1. So glad he’s okay. That must have been so scary.

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