The wind in my hair and the contrast of the clear blue sky against the trees created the perfect setting for letting go of all worries and cares. Once we reached the creek Charlie killed the engine of the four wheeler. I closed my eyes, inhaled the scent of pine and allowed the warmth of the sun to bathe my face. I drank in the sound of birds singing a symphony to our good Lord, and I allowed my body to relax to the sound of gentle breezes blowing through the surrounding tall trees. I couldn’t help but smile at the fact that no human sounds could be heard. Only birds singing, squirrels running across the carpet of pine needles and moss, and ducks flapping their wings as they quickly scattered from their previously undisturbed spot where Rocky creek meanders past a clump of trees and brush. For the first time in a long time I felt calm and free.
I sat quietly watching the leaves dance slowly to the ground and stared in amazement while a woodpecker kept perfect rhythm as it pecked away at an old tree trunk searching for breakfast. Oh how it soothes the soul to return to one’s roots. There is nothing more peaceful than pure and simple country life. Everything moves at a slower pace. Priorities seem to be better aligned, and people tend to regard the value of other human beings by remembering to say thank you, hello, and you’re welcome. Gentlemen tend to still open doors for a lady allowing her to pass through first as they tip their hats as a sign of respect.
Within hours we were headed back to a vastly different way of life. I closed my eyes remembering the serenity of the woods as we crossed over the ship channel bridge, the landscape filled with oil and chemical plants as far as the eye could see. To be fair, I owe a debt of gratitude to one such plant since it has provided a decent paycheck and numerous opportunities for me since moving to the area. I have also met wonderful individuals with colorful personalities, generous hearts, and diverse backgrounds. However, I could not help but ask myself the question, why here?
Three reasons came to mind right away. It took this journey to meet the beautiful girls who have loved and changed our son’s lives for the better. It is through them I’ve had the honor of becoming a grandmother. These precious babies have brought so much joy to this very different phase of my life. In fact, we were returning home in preparation for a special Sunday at church – our newest little grandson’s dedication service.
I walked into church the next morning feeling as if I had walked into an intersection in time. Hearing the welcoming voices of my church family today reminded me of those at Chesswood on the Sunday my Dad held the dedication service for my little brother. I looked around at the presence of aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents…the same roles, but different people filling these roles. I thought of my own son’s dedication service, allowing my heart to absorb the fact that today it is my son who is once again the Dad, and me the grandmother.
It was then God reminded me of the special heritage this day represents – a heritage of faith. No matter where we are, no matter the number of miles between us, on Sunday as I sit in church I can rest assured my Mom, my brother, my sisters, their families and I are all in one accord worshipping the same Heavenly Father to whom those birds at the farm sang their songs of praise. We may be in different towns, singing different songs, and praying different prayers, but we are under one heaven singing and praising with the angels in heaven, including my Dad, Randy and Tripp’s Poppy, and our grandparents. This heritage of faith must be taught and lived before these new little lives entrusted into our care.
So why here? Only God knows for sure. All I know is I want to be faithful wherever I am placed for whatever length of time God sees fit for me to be there, and for whatever purpose I am given.
“Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them.” I Corinthians 7:17
I awoke, a peaceful quiet surrounding my dreams. The only audible sound came from the whirring of the box fan at the foot of my pallet. I don’t know why I sleep so well to the sound of a fan. Perhaps it is because the house I lived in growing up had an attic fan cooling those hot summer nights. Or possibly it has something to do with the countless naps taken at my grandparent’s homes in front of metal-bladed oscillating fans. All I know is I carry my box fan wherever I go…winter or summer…Hyatt Regency or Motel 6.
Slipping into my houseshoes I made my way to the kitchen of the one-room cabin seeking a cup of coffee to ease my way into the day. I looked around the room that a short week before echoed with laughter and was permeated with the scent of Christmas. It is amazing how events of the present so quickly become memories of the past. Relishing that thought, I made my way over to the recliner in front of the large windows facing the pasture. I became enamoured with the beauty of the morning mist floating over the hillside. The movement of a red bird over by the old persimmon tree caught my eye, and I watched as it flitted and danced from limb to limb perfectly content to be alive. The warmth of the steam in my coffee cup made its way to my lips, and I slowly relaxed deep into the comfort of the recliner. I allowed my mind to wander back to memories of Christmases past.
Within seconds the recliner was replaced in my mind with a green naugahyde rocker, most likely bought in the 1950’s. My feet barely dangled off the edge as I rocked with all of my might attempting to make the rocker go back as far as possible without turning over. Maw Maw Hood’s tiled floors were polished reflecting the shimmer of lights and silver icicles hanging from the Christmas tree. The smells of the fresh tree mixed with pies and the welcoming fragrance of pine kindling smoldering as Paw Paw started a warm fire in the fireplace were comforting beyond compare.
Melody and I were the only grandbabies at the time, and Paw Paw Hood treated us like royalty. Although he was known to be a little gruff when it came to work or his cattle, when it came to us girls he melted like butter. During the day while Paw Paw was working, we were helping Maw Maw feed the chickens or watching her churn butter on the front steps of the old place. Every so often we would get in a game of Go Fish with her. However, at the end of the day when the chores were done, it was Paw Paw Hood’s footsteps we followed. I loved that man dearly. To this day I can feel the starch in his collar and the slight scratch whiskers whenever he picked me up to give me a hug and swirl me around as I giggled the whole time.
Long before we were ready dinner was over. Soon after, my sister and I found ourselves in our flannel pajamas having said our goodnight prayers and sinking deep into the feather mattress in Paw Paw Hood’s four poster bed. We lay there staring at the ceiling weighted down by warm, heavy quilts. We competed to see who could blow the biggest steam clouds resulting from our warm breath coming in contact with the cold air of the bedroom. The sounds of our giggling reached the living room, and Dad yelled out a warning that Santa was close to flying over the farm. We knew we could not be awake whenever he arrived or he may not be able to sneak our presents under the tree.
We got quiet, and the next thing I knew, Dad and Mom were waking us up with the news that Santa had made it down the chimney! We wanted to run into the living room, but Dad made us wait until he could get in place with the big old 8 mm movie camera (with lights that must have been as bright as the star of David!) Just as the anticipation became more than we could bear, the bedroom door swung open. There stood both sets of grandparents, my Aunt Judy, and our cousins Bonnie and Carolyn waiting with as much anticipation as we were experiencing. My eyes searched past all of the people to the tree where I saw toys and presents galore! I scooted around the tree in wonder to the empty glass of milk and the saucer of cookie crumbs. My hands shook at the thought that Santa himself had touched these items only a few hours before. Just then the sound of the four wheeler brought me back to the present.
What a precious blessing memories are. God knew how desperately we needed these connections to our past moments – moments we are creating every second of every day. My heart goes out to those who are dealing with the dreaded disease of Alzheimers. Please pray for someone today who is dealing with the disease either directly or through a family member. I have several friends whose parents are at different stages of the disease. It is heartbreaking to see them lose their loved one a little at at time to Alzheimers. I cannot imagine someone I love who is a part of my memories being here in body, but absent in mind.
“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.” Philippians 1:3
Thank You for the ability to remember the good in our lives. Thank You also for Your power to cleanse and make new those things we would rather forget. Dear God, I pray for all I know who are unable to remember, or who have lost the precious ability to reminisce with those they love who were a part of their life story. Give their family members strength and peace. Thank You for the knowledge that You care for us and for the promise that although we will face trouble in this world, You have overcome the world, and You will see us throught whatever circumstance we face.
In Jesus precious name,