It ain’t Always Fun!
Since writing this column about growing up in Louisa I have focused on those early days of childhood that were the foundation of my life. Much of who I am today may be to the credit of that little town and all its characters. I think many people of my generation can look back and remember their families, their teachers, their friends, as characters that defined life for us. From their example we saw role models, through the movies we saw, books that we read or had read to us, and those fun TV programs we watched. In this maze we somehow found our way to survive and have fun doing it. Some of us made it in spite of our environment, but mostly we lived and enjoyed the freedoms and hope that our great country provided. We were proud and were full of faith that God was looking out for us. Indeed, He must have been.
My point is that this humanoid not only grew up but continued to live and grow. There was no fatal wind to blow, or flood, or fire. Frankly, I still haven’t stopped ‘growing up.’ The problem is that most of life’s real lessons, and nearly all of the stumbles I’ve had, were experienced in those years that have followed high school. I have many stories about when I served in the Air Force, and the jobs and careers. I failed in some of my endeavors, but slowly gained ground in others. (Speaking of gaining, I have swelled several times beyond that skinny kid I was in Louisa.) I have had my trials and have had far too much dependence on doctors to keep me alive. I have lost one kidney, had two heart attacks, suffered with joint pain, high blood pressure, and other symptoms that come with being overweight. Of course, of those issues would have come anyway. It is part of life and part of dying.
Many of the things we experience kind of ‘comes with the job’ or with growing older. Old folks I knew when I was growing up were full of wonderful memories and sound advice, but were a bit slow in other ways. Oh, some seriously had a shuffle in their walk and a propensity to block aisles. As a youth I had to work around them showing patience, but still taking pleasure that history was passing in front of my eyes. Now, I am the one struggling to get out of my chair, or not quite comprehending the new acronyms ‘trending’ in today’s society. Some loss of hearing causes me to continually ask that the conversation be repeated. Dropping something is many times more difficult to pick up than it once was. Small things like key words that temporarily disappear in midsentence causing me to stall and wonder what I meant to convey. Was it this hard for the generations before me? It’s a funny, or maybe not so funny, that I can remember details of my youth, but cannot recall why I had gone into this room or why I had opened the refrigerator. A recent cartoon I saw showed an older man standing in the center of his bathroom saying to himself, “At least I know why I came in here.”
I certainly treasure those memories and those people I knew so long ago. I look at a collection of pictures of class members from grade school and wonder what happened to them. Some have passed on, to be certain. Likely many of those still living are suffering the effects of old age. Maybe we will all get to the place where we will be happy with just sitting and rocking. I am at the place where strategic planning is considering whether I should get up for a potty break now, or hoping I get away with waiting until the next commercial?
Thanks to an old schoolmate, I recently have been putting together thoughts on more stories of one-room schools in Lawrence County, and also about some Civil War history in and around Louisa. If any reader knows any stories, locations, or persons on those two subject it would be appreciated if you would pass them to me. My intent would be to work that information into an article we might all enjoy. I will or will not give credit for anything I use depending upon your wishes. There’s safety in that so much time has passed and most information is in the public domain. I will not include negative or information that may hurt others if exposed.
My great grandmother passed when she was eighty-three, but she suffered with asthma and heart disease in the last few years of her life. As a kid I had a tendency to ignore her unsolicited advice, but as I grew older her wisdom seemed to increase. Many of our neighbors in those days were older women, too. I enjoyed the ‘yarns’ they spun. It was entertaining to hear about ‘the good old days.’ I valued their love and kindness, but they spent more time in living in the ‘there and then.’ That, for me, has become the ‘here and now.’ Time has a way to somehow remain the same while all the while, changing.
I remember folks that were already adults that lived, worked, and played in our little town back then. To name a few there were Doc Skaggs, Jake Jordan, Edgar VanHoose, Ed Bradley, Funny Miller, Charles Perry, Giles Simpson, Sheepie Queen, Doc Joe Carter, Merrill Rice, Bill Keeton, Lew Wallace, Kit Elswick, Byron Young, C.D. Wells, Proctor Lyon, Alvas See, Dick Wilson, H.H. Curtright, Hager Moore, R.C. Wells, Ern Compton, Doc Sheley, Eldred Adams, Blanch Hughes, Ben Patton, Bill Tom Hinkle, J. Lynn See, Frances Cain, Ruth Jackson, Eddie Boggs, Bill Elkins, Mary Sparks, Shirley Meade, Mack Crutcher, Wayne Wooten, James Cheek, R.C. Wells, Andy York, Buell Lyon, Rip Justice, Willa Bell Heston, Russ Wheeler, Jim Arnold Perry, Curt Jones, J.R. Miller, Ernest Shannon, Homer Wright, and many others. It never crossed my mind that these were ‘old folk.’ They were the heart and soul of our community. They made things work. Nature being what it is, even these grew older and finally have been laid to rest. Soon enough it is going to be my turn.
Old age is sometimes its own reward. There are things I simply don’t have to do anymore because others pick up my mess and block me from doing heavy work. Old age is a state of mind, so if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.
That’s okay. I have been blessed. In spite of some rough spots life has been good. Many of my memories are intact. Many of my classmates continue to live on and are precious to me. We all are the fabric in the grand tapestry of life. The Master Weaver remains at work, but when we finish our part we can rest knowing we have learned the lessons and made our friends, both young and old.