One mama’s bigger (boot) picture

TAGS: Farm Life
Beth Armstrong several pairs of boots lined up on steps
WHAT DO YOU SEE? Beth Armstrong saw something more than a pile of boots, calling this “one picture and moment I’m so thankful I captured.”
The world lost a beautiful soul this month, and her memory — and legacy — live on in her life and stories.

We’d just been talking about a story. And then without notice one night, her blood clotted in an artery in her brain. And she was gone.

Beth Armstrong was a farmer, wife, mother, friend, professional. She and I grew up a county apart, and she lived at 4-H House a few years after me. She used her social media to share agriculture and her faith, and her very real desire to not lose sight of what was important. She loved cows and the farm and the people. She was, in short, my kind of person.

Beth slipped away on Oct. 18, leaving her husband, Todd, stepdaughter Parker, stepson Mason, and sons, Jack and Charlie. Plus, an entire heartbroken community in Fredericksburg, Ind.

Earlier this fall, Beth shared this photo with me to print, and these are her words:

“You see a bunch of old boots. Boots my boys outgrew. I see first steps into the barn. I see a little boy helping mend fence. I see a little boy loving on a new calf. I see a boy wanting to be big like his dad and brother, using all his might to prove he can carry a bale of hay or bucket of feed. I see a boy sitting in the buddy seat while Dad plants because it’s the only chance he’ll get to see him that day. I see a boy running into the house in mud-covered boots to show Mom the turtle he caught. I see two boys throwing a football in the field while Mom delivers supper during harvest. I see a boy wanting to do more as Mom gives cows shots and runs the head gate. I see two boys learning with each step what it means to grow up on a family farm. I’m struggling to let go of these boots, just as I struggle each day to give a little bit of my boys up as I share them with the world.”

She told me later, it was one picture and one moment. In the time that’s passed, the boys and the boots got bigger and stinkier, but every sentiment was still the same.

And isn’t that everyone’s story on the farm? Time passes. We grow, and we outgrow. But it’s the memories — and the legacy — that sustain us. Those forces were strong in Beth Armstrong’s world, and today, they’re everything for her young family and beloved friends, blessed by a woman who saw a little farther down the road than those piles of boots.

Her story mattered, all the way down to those boots. And so does yours.

Comments? Email holly.spangler@farmprogress.com.

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