The memories of my youth are mostly of working on the farm: rising early for morning milking, feeding the cows and calves, working in the crops, etc. Saturdays and Sundays were no different from any other day in regard to the duties of the milk barn; we still had to climb out of bed and report for duty without regard to adolescent inclinations.
All of those years of getting up before dawn could have formed in me an indelible habit of rising early. Instead, I have an abiding sense of deep appreciation for the delightful luxury of sleeping late.
My memories of my children’s early years are mostly of working as well. I purchased for them the privilege of having a stay-at-home mom by working three jobs. I graded papers and made lesson plans after they had gone to bed. But we lived in a decent neighborhood and the vehicles we drove were only a few years older than those of our friends. Okay, the truck was several years older but it was still a good truck.
Then, there was the divorce and a second marriage. Now, I share nine children and fifteen grandchildren scattered from South Dakota to Texas to Kentucky to Virginia to North Carolina. And an abiding sense of deep appreciation for phone calls and visits.
There are dozens of other lessons learned and habits developed. Among those is a growing lack of interest in wasting my time on bitterness and paybacks. A love of carpentry and cabinet making. An appreciation for foundations that hold up over the years. An absolute admiration for people who’ve been hammered by life and yet remain gentle and forgiving, cheerful and humorous. I’ve learned to love churches that focus on worship and obedience and let the dead bury the dead in the other places.
I carry my share of scars and regrets. I’ve made my apologies and taken some small pride in a very few things I’ve done well. I’ve endured some trials and testings. I failed some of those and have been blessed beyond my imagination. I’ve sobbed in agony and laughed hysterically. I’ve lost friends and brothers and gained other precious relationships.
Sometimes, I think I’ve gotten less than I deserved. And, in most of those cases, I have to say to myself, “Thank God! Thank God for that mercy!”
If life was fair, I’d have been stoned to death a long time ago.