Today we celebrate Brent H. Morton, a 13 year old boy, who was tragically killed in a farm accident while mowing a field not for from his home in Paloma, and the impact he continues to have 50 years later.
“Those who are dear to us live in our hearts forever.”
Brent’s life and death are forever remembered by his family and friends.
Our family was very fortunate to be embraced by the Morton family, and so many fond memories from our youth revolve around the Mortons.
My brother Tom was 2 years younger than Brent, and he loved to be with Brent on the farm as much as we loved to be with his sisters. Tom sent a photo of Brent’s tombstone last week starting conversations among us about his time with Brent the day of his death, how we were told and the shock all of us received that evening. Ultimately, the stories about the good times with Brent, his sisters, Belinda, Cindy and Barb as well as their parents, Connie and Glenn, and our parents came out. Throw in a few animals and pets and you get a picture of a carefree and happy time in our lives. Belinda referred to it as “the Camelot” years.
Our families combined totaled 10 kids. In the order of age we had Peggy, Brent, Tom, Belinda, Terry, Cindy, Tim, Barb, Faye and Joanne. We were a lot of heads to keep track of for 2 moms, especially when we were in the Morton’s pond swimming.
Brent was a good looking, athletic and fun boy who was in the thick of our play. Often, we would end up playing hide n seek after dark while at the pond. He was very good at finding us even though we were sure no one would!
We Powers kids loved to go to the Morton’s pond and farm because they were like family with all the fun extras like horses, dogs, cats, farm life and machinery, a really “cool” house with lots of Mattel toys, not to mention great treats and food. It was always difficult to leave, and our parents had a hard time convincing us it was time to go home. Often, one or more of us would get to spend the night or maybe the week!
Tom was the lucky one that week. Connie just happened to be in the hospital so Glenn was going to pick her up on Friday when he brought Tom home. School in Quincy started the following week.
Tom sent us this memory along with a photo of Brent’s tombstone.
“We were doing another field that day and I kept thinking about how much more we had to do in the field. So, while sitting on the fender, I asked Brent about how much we had to do yet. Brent replied, ‘I don’t look at what I have left, I look at how nice it looks where I have cut.’ That has stuck with me forever. Little did I know!” He added, “I said goodbye in that field because I had to go home with school starting the next week. A couple hours later, he was gone. That’s two parents that have been through nothing we could imagine.”
And Peggy told us something none of us knew. She said, “I heard dad sobbing in bed that night, and it is something you never forget.”
Mom and Dad went up to the Morton’s that day while we unknowingly watched TV at home. They came home and with a “knee jerk reaction” announced to us that we were not to play on farm machinery. As a parent, I understand their reaction now. At the time, we thought they had 2 heads because it came out of the blue. They followed the exclamation with the news of Brent’s death. None of us could believe it. We stayed up late and saw it on the news.
Fifty years later, there are tears of sadness and thoughts of what could have been. But, there are also stories told and memories shared with love and laughter for a time in our lives that was so dear to all of us.
Brent died 50 years ago. The memories of him live on forever.
Dr. Earl Grollman says it best.
“Grief is not a disorder, a disease, or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve.”
I believe as friends we grieved for Brent but also for the pain this family endured. We loved them. We still do.
Dr. Grollman also said, “Joy shared is joy increased. Grief shared is grief diminished.”
Both parts of this statement resonate loudly 50 years after Brent’s death.