Coping with death during harvest
Monty Stuchlik of Lost Springs and his family were harvesting wheat when his wife, Sarah, 73, died under hospice care at Newton Medical Center.
“When they heard the news, people started calling, wanting to help with harvest,” he said. “We appreciated the offers, but we were on the verge of wrapping up this year’s harvest. Mother Nature was helping, too, with good harvest weather.”
Sarah was diagnosed with lung cancer last July after Monty suggested she get checked out for a lingering cough. She completed a regimen of radiation and chemotherapy in September, but her condition continued to deteriorate, Monty said.
The COVID-19 pandemic made the situation worse. Sarah was in and out of the hospital for 53 days. When she was admitted May 1 for a two-week stay, nobody was allowed to visit her. They could see her only through a hospital window.
In her final two weeks and two days, she was allowed one visitor at a time.
“I made a lot of trips to Newton,” Monty said.
Sometimes, their daughter, Candy, took his place at her mother’s side. In the last two days before Sarah died, sons Daniel and Ross were allowed to visit, while Sarah was still coherent.
Sarah’s burial was Friday, and Monty and his family are adjusting to a new reality. Monty said Sarah’s passing left a hole in his heart, but he is thankful that she is no longer suffering.
“Candy called and talked to her every morning,” he said. “She can’t do that anymore, but she said she still talks to her every day. I do, too.”
After Sarah died, men let the harvest slide a little. On Saturday, the family had about two days of harvest remaining. Daniel’s father-in-law, Terry Vinduska, ran the combine, Monty’s grandson, Tanner Stuchlik, ran the grain cart, and Daniel and Ross hauled the wheat. Ross’s father-in-law, George Luna, also helped.
“We’re going to have to move on,” Monty said. “We’re getting through it. Our neighbors and friends have been super, super good to us. They are solid people. The friendship and support from everybody means a lot to us.”