Linda Grosserode – nurse, farmer, mom and friend to many
“I grew up on a farm by Tilden, I was number five of seven children,” Linda began. “My mom, Bernice, stayed at home and my dad, Irven, farmed.”
“Everyone had their job to do on the farm. I have many memories, among them is putting up hay. My job was raking the hay, going back and forth in the field. Oh, and walking soybeans and cutting thistles – truckloads of thistles. Our whole family would be out there. We’d work hard and talk about different things. Those are the family things we did on the farm. The family was always together, you maybe were in one or two activities. The farm was everything. Going to grandma’s house was a big deal. It was all about simpler things,” recalled Linda.
After graduating from Elkhorn Valley High School in Tilden, Linda pursued her degree at Wayne State College, and then decided to go to nursing school at Mount Marty in Yankton, S.D. From there she moved to Texas and then back to North Platte.
Then Linda met a farmer from her roots in Antelope County named Randy Grosserode. In 1990, they were married.
“I was never sure about getting married. But looking back, it was the best decision I ever made,” she said.
At first the couple lived in Oakdale, but then Randy’s parents moved to town.
“And we moved to the farm,” Linda remembered as if it was yesterday. “It was Christmas-time, December 23. We had two children. Brieann was a year-and-a-half, and Alex was right at two months. They both had the chicken pox, but we made the move. I’ll never forget it.”
The young farm family was growing, and the farm was too with irrigated and dryland acres along with alfalfa fields, pastures to tend to as well as cattle, some hogs and a few sheep.
“My husband was a believer in diversification. He always said, ‘don’t put your eggs all in one basket because you don’t know which markets will be good or bad.’”
Farm and family life was good for more than a decade, and then in September 2002, everything changed dramatically.
“Randy seemed to be healthy, and then was experiencing pain in his rib cage. We thought it may be from working cattle and then a cat scan showed he was full of cancer,” she said. “He was stage four. Five weeks after being diagnosed, he passed away.”
“I was overwhelmed. In that instance, many people are trying to be there for you, and you don’t know who has your best interest in mind and who does not,” Linda said, cautioning others who find themselves in similar situations. “Be careful when making decisions. Ask several people questions. You need diverse opinions from many people. The reality is, the dynamics can be very difficult.”
Linda said, thankfully Randy had always had her involved with farming decisions.
“He was always insistent that I do books. That was good because when he died I knew a lot about what was going on in the farm. Thank goodness for the banker, our accountant and my brothers and sisters.”
“I wanted to keep the farm going. We had worked very hard to get where we were. It was more than the farming business. I always thought the farm was a great way to raise kids. If I had moved on, that would have just been another major change for them,” she said.
Managing a farm and moving it forward wasn’t the only responsibility Linda had inherited so abruptly. She was also now both “mom and dad” to her children.
“Randy’s best friend, Jim, and his wife, Anne, helped tremendously as well as other family members. At the time, I was still working as a nurse in intensive care doing 12-hour shifts. They helped so much. Many weekends the children stayed with them, and it also gave me a chance to ask Jim a lot of farm questions,” she said.
Linda also made the decision to get the family into counseling.
She said, “My faith has gotten me through and communication within our family. We talk about Randy a lot and share stories. I encourage the kids to talk about their dad, and they love to hear stories about him from others. Randy was a great man. He worked so hard and had a good sense of humor. He was very, very kind. It’s important to share those memories.”
One area of Linda’s life that has been neglected is finding time to enrich herself. That’s why she is excited about the opportunities in Nebraska Farm Bureau and Leadership Academy
“I have been a member of the Antelope County Farm Bureau, but I did not fully realize or understand everything the Federation does. I originally joined Farm Bureau because of the insurance. Then I went to their annual meeting, and they brought up Leadership Academy
,” she said.
“It has been an eye-opening experience. I knew Farm Bureau was politically active. I just did not know to what level they are standing up and trying to help farmers and ranchers. I personally want to become even more active. I have written letters to my senators before, and I talk a lot about the issues, but that’s just a start. We have to be willing as farmers and ranchers to take the next step and do something about the issues we are facing.”
By her own personal experience, Linda knows what it means to take the next step and be courageous enough to not lose her passion for agriculture and move on.
“It’s about finding people you can really count on. When things happen, like the death of my husband in our own family, it’s important to find trusted people who have no financial stake in what you have and who are truly good friends and advisors willing to give you sound advice.”