At 85, Carl Hees is spry, full of energy, enthusiasm, and personality. With a big grin, and a need to stay busy, he is known for sayings like "Let's get 'er done, baby." or "Like Willie Nelson, I'm ready to hit the road."
Carl and his wife Ruth just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. Carl usually wakes up at 2 a.m. and says morning is his favorite time of the day.
Ruth isn't able to cook much anymore because she has Alzheimer's. But at 5 a.m. each morning, she toasts a single Eggo waffle with butter and honey for Carl and one for herself. Carl also adds garlic powder to his waffle because he says it keeps him healthy.
Carl is away from home much of the day, farming with his son, running errands, and as an active member of The Order of the Eastern Star. He leaves his phone number on the kitchen counter for Ruth who stays at home.
Some days Carl and his son Mike drive great-grandson Mason to daycare. The family calls this "The Grandpa Express."
"Double shovel, baby," Carl laughs as he grabs shovels for himself and son Mike. After retiring from the service station business in 1995, Carl began working on his son's 350-acre farm in Barnett, Mo. The two of them tend the farm together daily without any outside assistance.
Carl hitches a ride as Mike drives the tractor to the grain silo they are cleaning out for the corn harvest.
In preparation for the corn harvest, Carl climbs into the grain silo to sweep out the last of the wheat.
To keep the bugs away while in storage, Carl adds insecticide to the corn as it comes out of the gravity flow and feeds into the grain silo.
Carl takes a moment to clean his face after a dusty day of harvesting corn.
Mason is Carl's first great-grandson and Mike's first grandson. The progression of Ruth's Alzheimers has been difficult so they are especially grateful for the joy and delight Mason brings to the family.
Carl hugs granddaughter Andrea on his 85th Birthday. He doesn't like to make a fuss, but agreed to let the family bring cake and ice cream to his house for an intimate celebration.
Around 9 p.m. Ruth turns out the light after her nightly ritual of tucking Carl in.