Chaplain Julia Cadenhead
I've recently moved in by my Mother to help her remain independent as long as possible. Sometimes I think that might be forever! Those of you who are caring for older parents understand, I am sure. I love her dearly. I am devoted to her. I'm lucky to have that kind of duty and responsibility. Not everyone does. I try to remember that.
We decided to plant a spring garden this year. Well, she did. And, I wanted her to have it. And who did most of the work? I did. She is eighty years old, for goodness sake! Sigh. She loves turnips, tomatoes and 'cukes, squash and zinnias. They're all in the ground now - in her backyard. It is a tiny little area. The little tiller rattled my stuff around until I thought I'd drop from exhaustion! Now we wait. . .wait to see what we get.
She likes to say that she grew up in the woods. Who knows where Pond Creek and Dorcas are besides her, and now me!? In her day they were active little communities in Northwest Florida. Most folks made their living off the land - tilling it, clearing it, or taking turpentine from the forests. Mother's knows about harvesting mullein leaves (a weed, actually). Her grandmother dried and ground the leaves to smoke in her corncob pipe as a treatment for asthma.
I'm proud of my Mother. She did live a pioneer life in the early days. She knows a lot about planting and growing things, and the cycles of the moon, and how to get along with less. She cannot fathom the world wide web. She refuses to watch the TV shows that do autopsies. She wouldn't miss church if her life depended upon it.
All those years I was away from home, traveling in the U. S. Navy I kept as close as possible to her, of course. But there is something bitter-sweet about living near her now. I've learned some interesting things about myself. Much, I fear, to my chagrin. But, mostly, it has helped me warm up to myself. It has helped me to relax and just look up to the heavens and say, "so be it Lord, so be it," and laugh. I watch "Law and Order" and I don't go a day without surfing the web. And, if I get a cough or a headache I think twice about adding Sunday School to worship. (Hope Mother doesn't read this.)
Looking back I think that staying in one place all the time would have held me down; limited my horizons. That is certainly not true for everyone. Each of us learns differently. Each of us has a different calling. During those years I missed home and was often 'homesick.' I always felt God's hand in my frequent moves, though. I guess the Good Lord just put me in the kind of soil where I could grow best.
Today we don't have to grow our own food and we don't live in the woods. In fact, there aren't too many 'woods' left in most places! Every generation to its own challenges and rewards, I guess.
But, I do think we have some unique circumstances. For instance, our culture doesn't offer us much in terms of being satisfied with our situation, our condition, or our options in life. That is unfortunate. By satisfied I mean a deep, down, inside, gut-level sense of well being with whom we have been created to be. Maybe that is something for later life. But, I don't think so. The sooner we can come to terms with our human condition - warts and all - the more we are able to receive God's 'showers of blessings' upon us. Yes, we still strive to educate ourselves, to get a better job or promotion. But that is what grows OUT OF who we are deep, down inside. It is that deep, down step we often overlook in our hurry-up, success oriented culture.
"Where is my purse?"
"What did I do with my glasses?"
"I don't KNOW, Mother!"
I help her find them, all the same. She is my Mother. I love her. I'm glad she helped put me through school and didn't make me live in the woods! I'm glad she made me go to Sunday School and church when I was growing up. I know she will give me some of those tasty squash when they come into season. And, I am learning to laugh at myself. Most of the time I have to forage around to find my purse, too.
"So be it, Lord, so be it."