Thursday, June 20, 2013
"Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent." -- Psalm 71:1
"Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life" -- Proverbs 16:31
Yesterday I wrote about treasured memories of my childhood. I so enjoyed and reveled in those memories and thought about how much better things were then than now. I longed for the simplicity of my youth. Then, last night, I went to dinner with a friend of mine who is celebrating her 90th birthday today. I could not help but think that I want to be HER when I grow up to be 90!
This woman, who may not be as spry as she used to be, is still so full of life! A born storyteller, my friend loves to share her life with others through her stories. She wrote a book about her stories a year or so and those of us that have read her book adore this woman even more! But, I discovered last night, there are many more stories that didn't make it into the book. She has many life adventures and misadventures to tell about.
There is the story about her flagging down and riding with a trucker when her car broke down on the highway...did I mention she was well into her 60's or 70's at the time? This adventurous woman has driven the Yukon highway, went skydiving, as well as trying other daring escapades in her old age, after teaching in the classroom for 30 years. She knows who she is and is true to that person, not caring with others think about her. She enjoys people so much and people enjoy being with her as well. I would say that even at 90 years old, she is most definitely still full of sap!
She has inspired me to not just look at my wonderful childhood years with longing, but to make the last half of my life wonderful too! I will be 45 next month, so I AM exactly half as old as my friend. I want to remain full of sap for the rest of my life and do daring things and things that excite me every day. I want to spend time with people that I enjoy, tell stories and do things now that I can tell stories about when I am 90!
So, today I say Happy Birthday to my friend Mary Shrader! May she continue to tell stories and inspire people around her for many years to come! May I keep Mary in my heart as I grow older and remember her example the next time I look at my childhood with longing instead of looking at my present and my future with the same kind of excitement and hope!
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
"You who are young, make the most of your youth. Relish your youthful vigor. Follow the impulses of your heart. If something looks good to you, pursue it. But know also that not just anything goes; You have to answer to God for every last bit of it. Live footloose and fancy free - You won't be young forever. Youth lasts about as long as smoke" -- Ecclesiastes 11:9-10, The Message Translation
Have you ever had moments when you feel like you could just reach out an touch memories from the past? Lately, I have been in a nostalgic mood, thinking about my childhood. Finding old pictures, like the ones above, just reinforce this mood. I was so lucky and so blessed to have almost an idyllic childhood. I lived in a small little town until I was 16, but I spent most of my weekends and basically every summer on my grandparent's farm. My brother and I were expected to do our part to help out, whether it be pulling weeds in the garden, mowing the yard, helping in the barn, or...my "forever" job...doing the dishes! It wasn't always work we had to do. There was a lot of play time on the farm as well. Those are the moments I remember most.
My cousins, who lived out of state, would come home most summers and spend time on Grandpa's farm with us. Remembering back, there were endless things for us to do, and my cousins had such great imaginations, that I don't think we were ever bored. Sometimes we would put on our long sleeved shirts and go berry pickin'. (You can't say picking...it just isn't the same!) We would take those green and tan woven baskets that Bloomer's candy came in, or if the berry pickin' were a last minute adventure, we just strung the berries on a long stem of timothy hay. The big green "head" of the timothy kept the big, purple berries from falling off. Our fingers were stained purple for days, and we ended up eating more that we took home, but it was so much fun! Of course, we had to be on the lookout for snakes...my Grandpa always said if you smelled cucumbers, a copper head was near! I don't think I ever saw a snake on those trips, but I sure kept my guard up!
We would play a lot of make believe games. We pretended we were the family on the old show "Big Valley." I don't know why it was that show, except I think my cousin had a crush on "Heath" played by Lee Majors. Sometimes those make believe games would take place in the barn, where we made elaborate homes in the hay loft. We moved hay bales around so we had a living room, kitchen and bedrooms. One bale would be the refrigerator, one bale would be the stove. HOURS were spent in those hay houses! I'm not sure my dad and grandpa were pleased with the way we messed up their nicely stacked hay bales, but they never said too much. Being in the barn was also a lovely place to be in a thunderstorm. We would either hide out in our hay house, or sit in the big back window of the barn, watching it rain and listening to the steady rhythm of the rain hitting the old tin roof.
Hay baling days were also a highlight of the summer! I'm sure for my dad, grandpa and uncles, it was a lot of exhausting work, but for us kids, it was the ride that we loved. We'd sit at the back of the wagon and watch the square bales kajunk, kajunk, kajunk out of the baler. It was a steady rhythm that could very easily lull you to sleep. My uncle would pull the bales out of the baler with his metal hook and stack them, starting at the back of the wagon. As the stack would get higher and higher, us kids would climb up so we were sitting on top. Riding around the hay field on that wagon as it filled up with that sweet smelling hay was such fun! We would sing and chew on a piece of hay and hate for the ride to be over. It was always stifling hot, but we didn't seem to mind so much! There was always a jug of ice cold water on the wagon somewhere, although we always made sure there was enough for the hard working guys!
Big family meals to feed all the workers always followed. So much food! Everyone sitting around the table, eating and telling stories about the day's work. There was always dessert! My favorite was cherry pie made from the sour cherries picked fresh from the tree. Oh, and the special days when we cranked homemade ice cream! It always took SO LONG to crank! We kids got to take turns turning the handle around and around, with our foot on the base to hold it steady. The salt and the ice on the top was cold and gritty, but we knew the sweet goodness that was waiting in that shiny metal can! It would get too hard for us to turn and the men would take over. Scooping out the pure white ice cream was a joy! Oh the headache I would get because I ate the super cold stuff too fast, but it was worth it! Grandma always got to eat the ice cream off the beaters in the middle of the can.
These memories bring joy to my heart and a tear to my eye. I long for the simplicity of those days I spent as a kid growing up on the farm. I wouldn't trade my childhood for anything! I thank my parents and my grandparents for giving me those opportunities and the chance to live free and easy. I also thank God for blessing me so greatly! I treasure those memories and get them out in my mind from time to time. Youth does last about as long as smoke, but the memories of those days will live in my heart forever!