Wood River, NE — Neighbors take care of unfinished business, helping a farm family harvest their dad's final crop.
“This last year was pretty tough with my dad not being able to help,” Brad Earnest said, as he rolled through a corn field.
His dog KC keeps an eye on rabbits, as a faithful companion during the long days of harvest.
But as Earnest looks out from his John Deere 9670 combine, there's something missing, or rather someone.
“Every time I look over there and don't see him, it hurts a little bit but he's in a good place now and it doesn't hurt anymore and I'm proud and happy for him,” he said, two weeks after losing his dad.
Cancer took its toll on Mel Earnest. Family members say he just wanted to come home from an Omaha hospital, where his family spent time at his side.
Brad Earnest said, “I wanted to make sure my mom was taken care of. Getting around Omaha isn't the greatest thing for her, so I was there for her and dad.”
He spent his final hours back in Wood River, surrounded by family.
In the midst of harvest, friends and family told them not to worry about it; When the time came, they'd be there.
And they are, as dozens bring combines, tractors, and trucks to fields scattered around the area.
“They've been through enough already, let's just get the corn picked and move on,” Mark Gloe said.
He helped coordinate the harvest bee.
“If it was turned around, Mel would be here also,” Gloe said.
Brad Earnest says these extended family members orchestrated the whole thing, taking a weight off their shoulders.
“We've had a lot of friends and family reach out to us, want to help us out. It's nice, very nice. Living in a community like this, small town USA that's what it's about,” Earnest said.
Brad says it's tough on him and his brother Brian, their sister Brenda, and their mom Rita, but they're learning how big a small town can be.
“We've very blessed, appreciate it,” he said.
They likely would have had more help, but their corn is in 36 inch rows, and most guys are set up for 30.
Still, they've had dozens of guys help as they can, and hope to wrap up soon.