Monday, November 09, 2015

Country Roads, Take Me Home

It's getting close to the holidays when I miss my folks more. I can't think of Arkansas without thinking of Mom. This is from December 29, 2011. 
This morning, I woke up on the piece of land where my mother was born and raised in rural Arkansas. I walked out as the sun peeked over the horizon and the earth was still and the pastures were frosted. I ran for close to a half hour down the same country roads my mother walked as a little girl and turned around at the creek where she waded as a child. I passed my grandparents’ house, huge and majestic when I was in kindergarten but reduced by the years to mere quaintness. I could nearly picture posing with my cousins on that front porch where the men once gathered and talked and often smoked. And I wished I could remember even the slightest details of the days which we could not have known would become the precious memories we sing of at funerals.

Last night, Uncle Bill and Aunt Tommye came over and visited for several hours with Aunt Jerry and Uncle Jack. Sometimes, the most appropriate thing one can do is sit still and listen, the same message we often ignore as youngsters. Every time I’m with my maternal relatives, I learn so much family history and lore. Yesterday, I found out my mother’s first cousin, Jo Scott, knew EVERYBODY’S birthday to the point she could correct dates listed on tombstones as she walked though the cemetery. I now know my grandmother, Ruth McClure Chesshir, boiled every eating utensil after meals. And Aunt Jerry told me something about my mother that as far as I know,  Mom never divulged to any of her kids. When she was a girl, my mom tested positive for tuberculosis, a potential death sentence in that generation. She was tested again later, a test which turned up negative, but due to that scare, Mom felt my grandmother protected her, a feeling to which Aunt Jerry, her younger sister, affirmed. Though Mom lived to the age of eighty-three, I have to wonder how that incident affected her outlook on life, perhaps even on parenting. It’s too late to ask her now.

We were talking this morning about how children these days don’t have to listen like they did in previous decades. Many children wear headphones the way we wore socks, listening to music at every opportunity. Many cars now resemble entertainment centers which occupy the attentions of the younger passengers. I would guess there is often no interaction between parents and offspring in many families while traveling between POINT A and POINT B. When I was little, we had a family of seven, a front seat/back seat car, NO AC, and NO RADIO. There was no option- we had to talk. At the dinner table, we were required to converse throughout the meal, not allowed to leave until everyone was finished and we were dismissed- and there were occasions when Mom banned the mention of any sports related topics! To be honest, there were times when I chafed at my folks’ methods but what I would give to hear their voices again. In the Scriptures, Jewish parents were strongly encouraged to pass on wisdom and history and Godliness to their daughters and sons by engaging them in conversation. Israelite moms and dad didn’t have to compete with I-pods and I-phones and I-tunes while they spoke about the I AM. There was so much  for the children to learn. The learning curve is no less steep today, even though distractions can make it even more of an uphill climb. It’s amazing what we can discover simply by listening. That applies to children of all ages, even those who have attained adulthood.

Applicable quote of the day:
"I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen."
Ernest Hemingway

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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