few called him bubba

The last picture I took of Wes

(My final blog for 2016 – although it is 2017 – and it’s the very hardest to write. I’ve been mulling this one in my head for a long time. I’ve thought of all the things I’ve wanted to say for over a year and yet the words don’t come easy. I pray that God gives me the story and the words and the healing my heart is needing by writing this letter.)

Dear Wes:

I’ve put this letter off for quite some time. I think it’s because I know the emotions and the tears that will come to the surface again. But…I gotta do it. I just gotta. I went through all of my harvest pictures and videos searching for anything that included you. I take a lot of pictures and video but there weren’t nearly enough of you. I didn’t want to come to the final post and realize that was the last picture I had.

I met you and your family for the first time in 2013. That’s when we started helping your family with the wheat harvest. I remember the very first day I met you, your grandpa, your uncles and the rest of the crew. Jim brought me to the yard (across the road from your house) where the shed is and all the equipment was parked. You and the rest of the guys were gathered in a huddle (one that is so typical of your family). When we showed up, the huddle broke and a line was formed. I was introduced to everyone and I felt as though I would NEVER remember everyone’s name.  Little did I know how very important you and the rest of your family would become to me and my family.




The next summer was much easier to barge in on your family harvest time. We felt more like a part of your family and I grew to love each member of that group a little more each day. The evening meal was always time to gather the family, enjoy each other’s company and eat the best tasting food – EVER. This year (2014), I didn’t feel like an outsider. Everyone enjoyed the evenings and it was always difficult to part ways and head back to the field.

You and I sort of hit it off pretty good that summer, Wes, but it was our last summer together that I really felt the connection. I believe that’s why it pains me to write this letter to you. We shared a love and a passion for the combine and for harvest. We both cried when it was over. I understood those “last-day-of-harvest” blues.

Just hangin out…waiting (2014)

Waiting for the moisture to drop (2014).

The evening meal always meant the family was together! (2014)

Our “after harvest” party was at the restaurant in the Bass Pro Shop in Colorado Springs. After the meal, we cruised the aisles. (2014)

2015 – the last summer we would get to enjoy each others company. Who knew. If I had, I would have taken way more pictures of you. I would have recorded some of the great talks we had.

You were the BEST darn grain cart driver! You really were! I knew when you pulled up alongside of me, I didn’t have to worry about what was going on beside me while paying attention to what was in front of me. You kept your speed perfectly and always seemed to know where you should be without having to be told. I don’t recall ever getting on the two-way telling you to do something differently than what you were doing. To this day, I will forever think of you when a grain cart pulls up alongside of the Beast! And…I think you knew what to do because you knew what was expected of a cart driver since you knew the combine part of the job. And, speaking of combine, I know that’s where your love was. What tickled me the very most about that last summer with you in the field was your natural-born leadership quality. When you were in the combine and it was just me, you and Chanse, you became the boss. You knew exactly where we should be and what should be done. You took over the position of “boss” quite nicely!



Your family loved you, Wes! The little ones looked up to you and you were always so good about playing with them. Loving them. Taking care of them. Being there for them. The older ones respected you. Treated you like you were much older than you were. You were loved by so many! I remember Jamie telling me that she told your mom that she hoped Eli would grow up to be just like you – caring, loving and always so respectful (and loved your mama so much). 

The best darn grain cart driver…EVER! (2015)

On this particular day, the entire Z Crew was in the field with us. Eli was back and forth between the combine and the tractor. In the picture above, Jenna and Eli were riding with you. Once we stopped dumping, we had to take time to jump in the combine again. (2015)


They must have been giving Jim directions to somewhere. (2015) 

We spent a lot of time together the summer of 2015. We moved our trailer house to the farm after the wheat harvest was over and Taylor and Callie went back home. This was done to save miles and money while we stuck around for the proso millet harvest. God knew what He was doing – for my heart anyways. So many good memories to look back on now…

I enjoyed when you, Riley and Charley came to the trailer house just to say hello. I was missing the girls so much and when you guys showed up at the door, you made everything okay again.

I was working another job, as well as #1 combine driver, that summer and I turned your office into my office. Those days that we weren’t in the field, I could always count on you coming in, sitting down on the couch and chatting with me. I think the real reason was to come in the office and grab something cold to drink from the refrigerator. But I appreciated you stopping and talking to me. You were just that way.

One of my favorite memories of that summer was the sweet tea. Jim bought several jugs of sweet tea and left them in the frig. While we were “home, home” for a week between the wheat and millet harvest, you and the girls thought the tea was there for anyone to drink. When we got back to the farm, the tea was gone. 🙂 A good trick on Jim! But, before we left that fall, Jim bought you each your own jug of sweet tea. I can still remember you writing your name on yours.

During the millet harvest, the family gatherings ceased. School started and everyone got busy with their own lives again. The evening meal was inside your Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Anyone who was still in the field and could stay would gather there for the evening meal before going our separate ways for the day. When you had no school, you were in the field with us so we would end the day with a meal. When asked if you wanted to ride back home with me or with Jim, you always chose me. We had the best darn conversations! One I remember in particular was you telling me that one day you were going to live in that blue house just down the road from your mom and dad. Jim always told me you never talked…I knew differently!

When millet harvest was over and things slowed down, your mom invited us to go with you on a train ride to the top of Pikes Peak. She had two extra tickets and would love to have us accompany them, if we could. I sort of felt like we were barging in again but everyone reassured us that we wouldn’t be and they wanted us to go along. So we did. I’m so glad we did.

Thank goodness there were extra tickets for the train that day – headed to the top of Pikes Peak.

When the final day arrived and the Beast was loaded and ready to hit the road, I wish I would have known it would be the last time I’d get to see you. To talk to you. We spent the evening together the night before. I remember we had supper together and watched “The Voice”. We parted ways with, “see ya next year”.

I saw this on Facebook but remember thinking, “Oh, you’ll be okay”. I knew from the summer that you had been diagnosed with quite a few allergies and figured you would be taken to the hospital and all would be okay.

And then, I woke up to a text from Taylor at 2:00 am. With this attached to it:

I read Taylor’s text and read the Facebook status. What my brain DID NOT see was the part, “Wesley is in the arms of Jesus tonight”. I asked Taylor what was going on. She replied with, “did you read it”? Yes, I had read it. She literally had to tell me you were gone. NO!!!!!!!! How can this be? Wes, you were too young to have been taken from us. I immediately felt like I wanted to puke. I wanted to be at the farm. I wanted to be with your family. I wanted you to be alive. I felt like I had just lost one of MY kids. I barely knew you. How could I feel like this? I knew you less than a year in real-time.

I went back to bed and woke Jim up. I told him and then started to shake uncontrollably and cry. I cried the rest of the night. Sleep came once in a while but every time I woke up, my thoughts went immediately to you and your family. I was numb the entire next day. What could I do? All I wanted to do was be in Colorado. But I had to wait.

“Yep, that’s Pike’s Peak  in the distance. This is another story that one day I will share but I just can’t yet.” I wrote this on my year-end blog for 2015. 

The funeral was huge, Wes. It was in your school gym – the very same one you were playing basketball in just days before. I heard someone say they estimated over 1,000 people gathered for a celebration of you. Taylor and Callie made the journey with us. And it hurt. It hurt like I’ve never hurt before…ever. The slide show included pictures of the harvest that happened just months prior. Your friends hung together – hurting with each other – helping each other. The basketball team gathered up front and spoke. I honestly don’t remember what they said but they were there for you. Because of you. Because you loved them and cared for them and was one of them.

At one point, someone mentioned during their talk (maybe it was the Pastor) that you looked up to several adults and one of them mentioned was Jim. He looked at me and said, “I didn’t think he even liked me”. We knew better. I know how much you liked him. And I know how much you enjoyed  The Great American Wheat Harvest documentary.

It was a beautiful celebration of your life, Wes. The song that was sung, “Angel Band”, comes to mind quite often as it was sung so beautifully. I had to google the song to share:

We had to leave right after the service, Wes. We had to get back for work and school. Life must go on, I guess. I didn’t want to leave. I wasn’t ready.

Before we left home in June this year (2016), Jim said he wanted to do something for you. He wanted to create a sticker that could go on the combine. Jenna designed it and we had it made while we were in Texas. We made extras to give to your Grandpa for their combines, too.

Jim admiring the sticker and no doubt thinking of you at the same time.

Coming back to Colorado and being on the roads that we travelled together was very difficult. You were everywhere. Harvest wasn’t the same. Being in your yard wasn’t the same. I kept thinking you’d come to the trailer house or be buzzing around on the four-wheeler…or be in the grain cart. It wasn’t right for any of us. It was hard on me and my family but I know it was even more difficult for yours. Take my pain times about a jillion and that might equal the level of pain they felt. I’m certain it was difficult to get through each day – and it was a long harvest!

Some of your roads – your home. 

I took this picture in 2015. As I was looking for pictures of you to share on this post, I saw this and felt like it was a perfect visual of harvest 2016 through so many of our eyes. 

For the most part, we didn’t help with this year’s wheat harvest. But, we were in the neighborhood. The first day we arrived back to Colorado, we found your family. Oh my goodness…it was SO GOOD TO SEE THEM! As we arrived, a big ‘ole storm cloud blew up and dropped just enough rain to make everyone feel like it was okay to stop. Coincidence? I’d like to think you had something to do with that. And the cloud that formed right above the combines and that wheat field looked like a very large angel to me.

Can you sort of see what I saw? 

Even though we weren’t helping with the wheat harvest, everyone insisted that we call your farm home again. Just as we did the previous fall. We parked our trailer house in the same spot. We used the very same refrigerator. And we looked for you. So many times I had to stop myself from asking where you were.

As I mentioned, we worked in the same neighborhood. We helped another harvester and we cut for one of your neighbors. We were close but never really close. Until one day. The day that I believe God chose because it had to have been more than a coincidence.

We moved to a field that was near the Mountain View Cemetery. I know we cut that field with you once since we started helping. But…it also happened to be the very same day your family was going to be cutting the field just south of the cemetery. I look back on that day and think about how all pieces of the puzzle had to fit together to make it happen the way it did. I believe God had His hands in it and you were right there helping orchestrate it.

We were asked if we could stop our combine and gather with yours for a picture. And that’s exactly what we did. I didn’t get a very good one but it was the best I could do with what I had.

It looks like the combines are there saluting the best darn grain cart driver…EVER!

There were tears – lots of them – all over again. After the picture was taken, I jumped back in the seat of the Beast and then it came on. The song that has reminded me of you and your family since I heard it for the very first time, “Tell Your Heart to Beat Again” by Danny Gokey.

Shattered like you’ve never been before
The life you knew
In a thousand pieces on the floor
Words fall short at time like these
When this world drives you to your knees
You think you’re never gonna get back
To the you that used to be
Tell your heart to beat again
Close your eyes and breathe it in
Let the shadows fall away
Step into the light of grace
Yesterdays a closing door
You don’t live there anymore
Say goodbye to where you been
Tell your heart to beat again

Beginning just let that word wash over you
It’s all right now
Loves healing hands have pulled you through
So get back up
Take step one
Leave the darkness
Feel the sun
Cuz your story’s far from over
And your journeys just begun

Tell your heart to beat again
Close your eyes and breathe it in
Let the shadows fall away
Step into the light of grace

Yesterdays a closing door
You don’t live there anymore
Say goodbye to where you been
Tell your heart to beat again

Let every heartbreak
And every scar
Be a picture that reminds you
Who has carried you this far
Cuz love seems further
Than you ever could
In this moment heavens working
Everything for your good

Tell your heart to beat again
Close your eyes and breathe it in
Let the shadows fall away
Step into the light of grace
Yesterdays a closing door
You don’t live there anymore
Say goodbye to where you been
Tell your heart to beat again

And I knew you were there.

Watching your family cut the field south of the cemetery from the field I was working in.

He would have had a ball playing with you, Wes! Because you would have made him feel important and would have shown him how to make it all work. He did, however, have fun playing with your toys! I wish he could have known you. 

One day while your mom and I were visiting (just before the fair), I asked her if she could tell me what the cause of your death was. She said it was a very rare congenital heart defect similar to  Anomalous origin of the left coronary artery from the pulmonary artery (ALCAPA). With this defect, most times it is undetected until heart failure. And to make Wes’ situation even more rare and unusual was his left coronary artery came off of his right coronary artery. So rare there’s very little information out there about it and more amazing yet that he lived to be 13. I asked her if she would just replay the day for me, if she didn’t mind. And she did. I needed to be there, Wes. And, bless her heart, your mom was willing to fill me in. It helped…a little.

And, by the way…your family is getting along as well as they can. Their hearts hurt and ache to see you again. To talk to you again. To include you in their present memories. But, they’re doing okay. They are taking baby steps – baby steps that will allow them to live again.

We’re trying to live without you. It will be most difficult for me at harvest time. When I come back to your farm, to your house, to your tractor and combine. The memories are there but they were cut short and there aren’t that many. What I do know though, Wes, is you touched many, many lives in your 13 years. I am thankful for the times we had and I am a much better person for knowing you and getting to be a part of your life. I know God has a plan and you fulfilled your purpose for being here on this earth. God placed you and your family in our lives for a reason and for this I am thankful. I will miss you until we see each other again!

I will forever love you, Bubba!

26 comments on “few called him bubba

  1. Judeen E Rikli says:

    Tears that celebrate a wonderful young man. Thanks for sharing your journey with us!!

  2. That was very hard to read but job well done ma’am, well done.

    • Nebraska Wheatie says:

      Thank you, Steve. It wasn’t hard to write, I just wrote what was in my heart. I’m glad you could feel the emotion and I appreciate the kind words.

  3. Jackie W says:

    Beautifully written.

  4. Anthony Barrett says:

    Wow, what a post. This was a well written piece that shows your true emotion. Prayers and comfort to his family still. I cannot imagine the heartache and pain of losing a child. Thanks for writing this Tracy.


    • Nebraska Wheatie says:

      I can’t imagine the pain and heartache either. It’s one thing for someone like me to feel that pain but the pain the parent must endure would be the worst. I don’t know if anyone could really do it without having a faith in God and knowing you will see them again one day. Please do pray for Wes’ family. Thank you so much!

  5. Tammy Merryfield says:

    I live in Simla and this tragic death hit many many hearts very hard. The Maranvilles are great people and a huge part of the comunity. Thank you for writing such a heartwarming piece.

    • Nebraska Wheatie says:

      I know it hit many hearts. I witnessed that at the funeral. That gym was packed! I love the Maranvilles so much and I know their loss has been a huge testimony to so many. I honestly don’t believe they (or any of us) would be able to get through something like this without knowing there is a God and He carries us through something like this. Thank you for leaving your note, Tammy!

  6. Terri Mudd says:

    I didn’t know Wes. My daughter did, her son, Shane, played basketball at school too. But I was there when it happened. I lived in Denver at the time, I have now moved to Simla to live out my retirement years near my family, but my daughter, Melissa, was having problems with her back at that time so I was spending a good deal of time commuting between home and here. When it happened my first thought was, “It can’t be serious, there are so many people there. They should be able to help him.” I was wrong. Your story is so moving, so well written and the pictures bring him to life for me. Thank you. He’s ok, you know. He’s happy. It’s us who hurt. He wouldn’t want that.

    • Nebraska Wheatie says:

      Yes, he’s okay and he’s happy and he’s in Heaven waiting for the rest of us to join him. You’re right…it truly is us who hurt and I’m thankful for that hurt. It means I was able to love him…even for a short while. Thank you for your kind words and for sharing YOUR story!

  7. Tom Stegmeier says:

    What a wonderful tribute Tracy .Sometimes in ones life there is someone that touches your life in way you can’t explane. God Bless .

    • Nebraska Wheatie says:

      Yes, you’re right. And he certainly touched mine and so many others. He had a kind and gentle spirit.

  8. Carol Williams says:

    Wonderful testimony Tracy. You have so many gifts to share.

  9. Lee Widrig says:

    Thank you so much for this wonderful article written from the heart.

  10. Oh, Tracy, this must have been so very difficult, but necessary and healing, to write. A wonderful tribute to a special young man!

    • Nebraska Wheatie says:

      I won’t lie…I cried a few tears but it was very helpful to write. That’s why I started it with saying I had to write it. I hope Wes knows how special he was to me – I never told him face to face. Who would have thought I wouldn’t see him “next year”? Thank you for your kind words, Sonja. It means a lot!

  11. Doug Lafuze says:

    I guess God needed a grain cart driver in heaven so he chose the best mankind had to offer. Thanks for sharing this young man’s story. Now he’ll live on in the hearts of those this post touched as well as the hearts of those who had the honor of knowing him.

    • Nebraska Wheatie says:

      Well, he certainly got one of the best!!!! Thank you for leaving such a thoughtful note, Doug! I can only hope I did him the honor he so deserved. It’s not often someone as young as he was leaves such a lasting impression on anyone. He was truly a gift from God.

  12. blueticked says:

    Oh. This is so sad. You gave him a wonderful tribute. I’m so very sorry for your loss!

  13. Matt Durham says:

    Wonderful tribute!

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