Old Dirt Roads…More like Gravel

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There was a long gravel road down to Granny’s house and over to our house which later became Uncle Larry’s house.Not just the small gravel wrapped in the fine dusty grey dirt but the big sharp white rock pieces that could split your knee cap open when you fell from your bike. I did split my knee cap open a few times and elbows and palms of my hands. It was all good, because I loved that road. It was like freedom to me being young but having somewhere to travel, somewhere to go and explore for the day. I loved my life, but wasn’t aware that not everyone had a road to play on that was only traveled by grandparents and other extended family members. Sometimes a group of “church folks” would come a “visitin’.” But the majority of the day that road was mine. I didn’t know it then, but I do now.

We played for hours upon hours upon hours along that road. We raced up to the Highway 51. I wished it could have been 100 Highway. Everyone talked about that Highway. It was curvy and people had died on it. It was famous, but no, we just lived next to Highway 51. Who knew that someday that road led to where I live now for most of my big kid and adult days. My Uncle who never left Adair county lives down that highway, up and down a few hills from where this road to Granny’s was, where I spent these growin’ up days. We knew better than to get too close to the Highway, but up to the edge was fair game.

As you came down the road you could stop at the trailer house that was once an Aunt and Uncle’s house for a bit, then another Aunt and Uncle lived there, and maybe a cousin that wasn’t married yet, then I can’t remember from there the many inhabitants of that first stop.

Next you passed a cottonwood tree to the right down a slope to the burn pile. We spent many an hour stopping by the side of the road to roll down the hill. We didn’t care about ticks and chiggers. Finding them was the mom’s and our Granny’s job at the end of the day. The grass was cool and plush with clover. No real stickers like here in the red dirt part of Oklahoma where I live now. Never found a four leaf but I sure looked a lot. Made chains with them too. Necklaces and bracelets and wreaths for my hair. I don’t remember being taught how to make them. We just did it.

Farther down the road it branched off. If you went straight you would end up in the Grandfolks driveway next to a Rose of Sharon bush. I loved the smell of the blooms and the pretty flowers that budded. Now I wish I knew who planted it. It meant a lot to me growing up. I’d jump off the front porch or pull other crazy shenanigans from the height of the front porch and run smell the Rose of Sharon blooms. That’s just what I did over, and over and over.

Now here is where the road curved a bit and led to the house where we lived for a few short pieces of time. Then my Uncle lived there and put up a fence. It never looked the same after that. But out in front of that house was a sun lit field. It looked big then. Now, not so big. We played ball in that field and sometimes church folks would come over and play a round of softball. Well, I was little and just remember watching wondering if I’d ever get big enough to play.

We rode bikes down that road and up to the highway and back and marched and skipped mostly barefoot. I don’t remember wearing shoes ever as we went back and forth, back and forth until time for supper. We lived outside and on that road. I have many memories of that time.

I went back a few years ago to see it after my family’s land next to the junk yard was sold where these houses stood after Granny and Granddad had passed. The road wasn’t really a big road like it had seemed when I was 6. It was more of a very long curvy driveway, but it had been full of wonder and learning and jagged rocks. What do kids that age do now while growing up? Where do they spend their time? I was blessed. Most of my best memories came from an old dirt road.

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Do you remember?

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What do you remember from the earliest days? I remember being sad for my big brother because the dog died. I don’t remember the dog, but I was so sad for my bro because he was crying and hurting over this loss. I was little kindergartener leaning against the door frame. Another memory was when my younger brother was burned badly from the grease in an electric frying pan he pulled off the counter. I don’t remember that part of the trauma, but I remember that I was waiting in a car late that evening, watching and looking up to the upper levels of the hospital windows wishing to see my family. Then I remember seeing someone female I thought using an ironing board to iron. Okay, so was I  really at the hospital? I don’t know that either, but my mind always remembers it around that incident. There are other memories, but earlier ones are more sketchy than that.

What about school age? Here is one for you. My dad was a pipeline welder and we moved with the pipeline, so I did not go to kindergarten because of these moves and such was the time. I moved 41 times before my 7th grade year.  So, one time, when we had settled back next door to my granny’s house for the cold weather, I went to my “first” day of 1st grade. The other students had been there for days, but this was my “first day” ever in an institution of education. The youngsters were seated and quiet as they used pencils to mark papers. As I sat down I looked around for some visual clues as to what I was supposed to do. The teacher, Mrs. Worsham, walked by and hit my hand with a fly swatter and told me to “quit cheating.” Again, I repeat, this was in first grade, on my first day of school ever in my short life, yelled at and hit and told to quit cheating which I did not even know how to do. Thus my introduction to education.

Jump forward about 50 years. Now, I rarely look back unless my spirit taps me on the shoulder and prompts me to remember. This month I was tapped…on the shoulder and pointed in the direction to pay attention. These are not easy tasks but I try to obey. This one knocked the wind out of me. As happens on FB from time to time, not often, but once in a while I am tagged in a pic from long ago. The pics that surfaced were from a summer Bible campaign in the NE with select college students from surrounding sister colleges. I had not thought of these people for some time. I experienced lasting lessons from a couple of the trips I had taken along the NE coast which shaped who I am today. Yet, many of the people and faces I had forgotten. As I looked through the memories chronicled there I started remembering. Some names came to me, and I connected soulfully again to those whose smiles were infectious. I couldn’t resist the pull to reach out to those easy to locate and the ones who made me laugh. So far I have only heard back from one. That is fine. I obeyed the tap. The outcome is not mine. The action to do as I was led is. I look forward to the day some of the timing for this makes sense. But if that day does not happen on this side I will continue to act on the prompts. I believe that I am here to do that.

What do we do with memory, some great, some good, some we long to never be prompted to revisit? I personally live in the moment, but when the brain waves spark with memory I look to it to give thanks even in the unknown surrounding it. I lean into the stimuli behind it, accept the rush of sentiment, and try to process the emotions escorting it. I’m not sure if the frequency of these recurring memories are a part of the aging process or because they enlighten and move me to more compassion towards others. I would like to think there is a reason, but, again, I’m not privy to the scope of that particular info from the spiritual realm.

Today I will give thanks for the flood of beautiful memories, faces, places, and learning that took place for my good. I wish I could “replay” and “redo” as in a computer game. I would be more kind and understanding of all the players including myself. I would say “Thank you” more, and “God bless you!” I would tell people they were fine right where they were and perfect in God’s eyes. I would tell them forgiveness is there’s to accept. I would see them as a first love sees with wonder and awe into the depths of the precious soul directly across from them. The old photo’s captured exact moments that reminded me to cherish the present much more. Thus, maybe, the tap on my shoulder to revisit the pics as I did and see then, where I offered people and those times my service, I now will do so with much more awe and adoration for the moment at hand. I do wish I had told those across from me then how special they were. But, there are no “do-overs.” There are, however, new opportunities in the present to show more love for those who sit across from me.

Memories serve us even if we do not revisit them much. They will guide us to be better if we allow them. What do you remember? I remembered love so I end with this.

1 Corinthians 13:13

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

 

 

 

Where’s that place? That favorite place…

The smell of sausage gravy and buttermilk biscuits bring me to a special place called Granny Hatfield’s breakfast table.  In this place everyone fought for the last biscuit to eat with butter and syrup like some kind of breakfast dessert. Granny substituted syrup with sorghum. She was old school like that.

Then again, I’ve played chess with good friends on the edge of a ski slope in an alpine bookstore coffee shop on overstuffed armchairs. Expletives muttered as the queen was lost. And suicide not sacrifice was the only move left giving up the king because no more life was left for the round at hand as the caffeinated drink turned cold.

Fast forward to a place lively and quick as bus drivers put money in the pot to tempt everyone’s hand filling out the “March Madness” college basketball brackets only to have a novice female driver and bracket builder win the pot. The heckling subsided as back in the day she passed out CD’s customized to the recipients personalities and musical taste. Giving back every cent of the pot to the braggadocius and the lovely souls. Anyone remember Fiona Apple? Or the Allman Brothers? What about Sound Garden? Or Michael (the crooner) Bolton “A Heart Can Only Be So Strong!” Then there is Jackson Brown with “The Rebel Jesus” and ‘N Sync, “I Drive Myself Crazy!” Who can forget The Spice Girls? Whoo Hoo! Each of those artist and songs take me to a place. A favorite place at that.

Don’t you feel it when a blast from the past blares on a loud speaker? Aren’t you drawn to the lines in a movie? For example, this line in LOTR,

         ““The world is changed. I feel it in          the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost, for none now live who remember it.”

Where is that place, that favorite place? I didn’t know them as having the label of favorite when I lived them. Only looking back, remembering with fondness make these memories dance and sparkle! Perhaps there are more places I will choose. I hope to feel a tingle, a faint whisper of hilarity and joy in the moments. Moments greater than these lie ahead. There are many and really, they are not found externally, but live on from within as they touch my heart, my favorite place.