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November 25, 2003
Early County, Ga.-- Thanksgiving celebrations start officially in a few hours when families get together for the traditional feast. For one family, this Thanksgiving holds an extra special meaning.
Life isn’t always fair, and Louette Odom knows that all to well. “Aneurysm here,” says Louette as his finger circles on his stomach pointing out the site of his weakened artery. He could have dropped dead if the aneurysm burst, and the diagnosis could not have come at worse time.
His winter crops needed harvesting and his summer crops needed planting and he could endanger his life if he tried to do it. But, a small army of friends came to his rescue.
“You need to go home and we’ll take care of this,” said Bobby Rish, one of about 20 farmers who worked Louette’s land for him while he recuperated, a custom dating back for years. “Who started this? Our forefathers,” said Ike Newberry.
Louette knew he had to have the surgery and wanted to get back to farming as quickly as he could. He expected to have the aneurysm repaired and go home the same day, spending about an hour on the operating table. The surgeon found a much bigger problem, though, taking three hours to repair it with Louette staying in the hospital for seven days.
All the while his friends back home worked his land like he would have.
Louette made a full recovery with his surgeon telling him to “go back and get at it.” He couldn’t want. How did the volunteer army do? “Excellent. Excellent. There is no other word to describe it,” says Louette.
Numbers show what a good job they did, making five thousand pounds of peanuts and 1,476 pounds of cotton per acre. During the six-month growing season, Louette’s life made a drastic turn from walking dead man to feeling “Great. Just Great.”
He felt so well that he planted a garden, something he was too sick to do a few months back. Louette had a great deal of time to think while recuperating. “You may not be here tomorrow so you better say what you got to say today,” says the thankful farmer.
“Try not so sin as much,” says Louette with a laugh, and, realize the value of friends who unselfishly help other another without expecting anything in return.
“It’s not all about money in this world. You’ve got to have friends to make it,” says Louette. It was the goodness of friends that pulled Louette Odom through a physically and financially troubling time.
This Thanksgiving Louette Odom will give thanks for those friends who helped him. “This is going to be the greatest Thanksgiving in my life,” says Louette as he pulls greens from his garden.
He is most thankful for unselfish people who helped him when he couldn’t help himself.