I was looking at the 1946 photos from the 4-H camp at Jackson’s Mill earlier and was reminded of my comments the other day about being curious as to their tragedies and triumphs in their lives. While few teenagers have solid plans for their life, most have some vague idea of how they think their lives MIGHT turn out. I remember seeing myself as eventually having a supportive wife, two sons, a daughter, earning my living working the farm and sawmill with my dad and, maybe, adding a boarding stable to the mix. I even saw myself surrounded by grandkids and me bouncing them on my knee.
I was able to work the sawmill with my dad for eight of the 11 years between my high school graduation and Dad’s untimely death from heart failure. I also ran it full-time for seven years after his passing, until I realized that it would never adequately support a wife. I’ve joked that I’ve had two bad marriages to two fine women. That statement may be truer than I want to admit, but it will soon be 31 years with the second one. I‘ve never had any children, but I have a stepson whose sundry relationships have given me five grandkids, only a couple by him. He’s got a good wife now, though, and I think this match will last. We’d stopped raising Hereford’s in place of Christmas trees before I ever got out of high school, and I’ve never gotten back to it. The stable idea never got beyond that stage. All-in-all, my life has turned out almost nothing like I thought it would.
Would I change anything if I could? Well, maybe a few things; but would I wish my father back into this insane world for him to see today’s American citizens giving away the very freedoms that he fought for, and some of his friends died for? No, I wouldn’t. Would it have been better to have remained single than marry a woman whose difficult childhood left her with traits difficult in their own right? Sometimes I think so, but then I realize that dealing with her troubles have taught me much about patience, understanding and compassion. Plus, it was her dragging me to church that got me saved when I did. (I like to think I would have come around eventually anyway, but who knows.) And, though I rarely see my grandkids, would I willingly give up those precious moments when I do? Never! Life is mostly a matter of making the best of whatever fate and our own decisions bring us. Though I’m bad about grumping, I’m also pretty good at taking my happiness where I find it, and life brings SOME good to everyone, if we let ourselves enjoy it. Am I leaving God out of the equation? No, I know better, but that’s a whole other subject.
Changing gears, today I took my wife for a ride, since I start CDL classes tomorrow, and she won’t have my charming company between the hours of 6AM and 4PM (travel time included) weekdays for the next five weeks. Passing a point on a neighboring ridge, she remarked what a beautiful building site it would make if someone would tear down the weathered little house there and the big stone gate by the road. She then asked why such an unpretentious little home had such a fine stone gate at the end of the driveway. I told her that many years ago, a local doctor had a big stable there where he raised Standardbred race horses, and the stone gate was the entrance to the stable. No doubt, someone decided to preserve that history by leaving the gate. I had to wonder if anyone living today, besides me, even knows that story.
On another subject, I have four things gathered up that I’m going to send my first cousin’s “boy” before long. One is a wooden box from Haiti that his grandfather sent me when he was in the navy. Another is the old Lufkin measuring tape that I’ve decided was used by his great grandfather in a shipyard a couple counties away during World War II. Also included is a brass belt buckle that belonged to that same great-grandfather. It has his initial on it and was originally silver plated, but all the plating wore off from decades of use. The last item is a small board, painted an ugly yellow, to which are wired nine arrowheads, which were found in the cornfields of the little farm where his grandfather lived for a few years as a kid. That grandfather had mounted them on the board and taken them to school as part of a project he was doing. I have a lot of old family photos on a USB that I want to send him, too, but I still have more photos to scan. He has a son of his own now, I believe, so maybe this little bit of history will have more meaning than it might have a few years ago.
Lastly, I’ve been going to bed early for three nights now, and getting up between 4 and 6AM, so I’ll be better prepared for being at class at 7AM of a morning. It still aggravates me that I have to get a piece of paper that says that I know how to do something that I did for several years in the past. It’s even crazier that I have to learn how to drive a tractor-trailer, just to get a job driving a straight frame or, often times, even a delivery van, but that’s what the companies require. Oh well, you either jump through the hoops or you don’t get the job. Wish me luck! © 2014