Letter: Remembering Michael Chadwick
Malea Moore Guiriba
This time of year in Hastings, the streets are filled with cabbage and potato carts, hauling the fresh produce from field and farms.
Folks from all over enjoy the fresh and bountiful harvest resulting from the months of cultivating, planting, cutting and digging.
The streets, like many other rural farm towns across America, are also filled with another component, but one that is not always as recognizable as the potato carts, the fresh head of cabbage or the labels that market the produce, the farm worker.
While so much work goes into harvesting the food that reaches the tables of Americans, the men and women who gather in those small towns all across the country to cut and pick and grade all of our food, are not always known to the end consumer.
This was never more evident than it was a couple of weeks ago when local farm worker Michael Chadwick died in hospice care. In his final days, social workers reached out to many of us in Hastings trying to find someone who knew Michael.
He came to Hastings 20 years ago, but no one knows where he came from. No one knows who his people are. We do know he is somebody’s son. Most folks in town will tell you they know Michael Chadwick. They have seen him around. But no one really knows him at all. He is one of many who ended up working in the fields, by choice or by chance.
When I posted a message on facebook asking for help in Michael’s final days, the response was beautiful. That post was shared 65 times and received nearly 2,000 views. People all across the country now knew Michael Chadwick’s name.
Carol Lagasse from Estate Title emailed and offered to go and sit with Michael.
Later that night, Harold Clemons from the Sertoma Club called and said he would like to go to hospice and be with Michael, so he wouldn’t be alone.
Beverly Slough sent facebook prayers and hundreds of others lit candles to honor a man everybody in town knew of.
Michael is one of the 200 or so farm workers who work in fields scattered throughout our community — many of these men and women call Hastings their home year round.
Also like Michael, they have lived here for many years and yet their lives serve as a backdrop to a town whose very survival is based on farming, much of which could not be done without men like Michael.
Michael Chadwick is somebody’s son. No one has figured out who his family is and Michael is gone now. But many other men and women, who are just as much a part of our community as anyone else, remain. They all have names, Mike, John, Robert, Bill and Tom and so many others. They are all someone’s child and they are farmworkers.
See you on Main Street.