Posted tagged ‘front porch swing’

The Grandparents’ Farm

July 19, 2019

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                       July 19, 2019

 

I have great memories of spending summer weeks at my Mamaw and Papaw Helton’s farm In Staffordsville, Kentucky. Staffordsville was not a town, but more like a post office with a store next to it. Since no one knows where Staffordsville is I’ll say that it’s close to Oil Springs. 

I’m sure that clears things up for you.

The Helton farm had front porch swings, another back porch swing, a smoke house, coal house, chicken coop, pig pen…and a creek that ran between them, a barn with a hay loft, well water that we’d lower a bucket down into for a drink that was cold and sweet-tasting, trails up into the woods, countless barn cats, gardens and pastures, and fresh air and farm smells.

It was a kid’s playground. There was no need to have anything that had the sole purpose of entertaining children. We made our own entertainment, mimicking the livestock and pretending the porch swing was an airplane about to take off. 

Mamaw Helton cooked a breakfast every morning that Cracker Barrel tries to recreate: fried eggs, bacon, sausage, homemade biscuits right out of the oven, potatoes, and fried apples. My Papaw would drink buttermilk…yuck!

But things change!

            Mamaw passed away first and Papaw remarried “the widow lady from down the road.” Several years later he and the “widow lady” passed as well and the farm was sold to someone who didn’t have the same appreciation for its memories, traditions, and importance in our lives. 

Last week my sister, brother-in-law, and I were traveling back from having lunch with my brother and his family in Frankfort, Kentucky. Our plan was to travel back to southern Ohio by a route that would allow us to stop at the cemetery where my parents have been laid to rest. My Mamaw and Papaw are buried there, also, as are several other relatives. The cemetery is close to the Helton farm, so our plan was to do a drive-by. 

However, we missed the turn that would take us past the Staffordsville post office and then the farm. My sister looked at me and asked if we should backtrack to find it and I said no.

It was a sad “no”, filled with disappointment and lost laughter of the past. I had driven by it a year before and she had seen it several times. Each of us knew of its reverse renovation. That is, whoever lives there now isn’t concerned about curb appeal and cleanliness. It has slid down the slope towards trashed. The front porch swings are long gone. In fact, the yard and porch are so cluttered it’s hard to tell where the front wall of the house begins. Weeds have been welcomed and have taken over the chicken coop and pig pen. 

No longer does it give an appearance of being inviting. It resembles more a scene out of a Halloween horror movie.

And so we did not feel the need, dare I say, or have any desire to drive past what was significant in our past and see what it has transformed into being.

It’s one of the downsides of growing older that often gets forgotten. We focus on aging joints and more prescription bottles in the cabinet, what gives us constipation and heartburn. We have discussions on taxes and Social Security, doctor appointments and AARP. To see the deterioration of our childhood places wounds us deeply. There’s the grief of losing someone close to us, but there is also a different flavor of grief where we lose what we’ve known, the place that has helped shape who we have become.

Things change, often for the better, but sometimes they change in ways that couldn’t possibly be any worse.

Fasting From Being Fast

February 23, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                         February 23, 2015

                                            

Some people would say that I don’t have to give up “being fast” for Lent. I’ve naturally migrated to that place of slowness. There’s some truth in that…okay, there’s a lot of truth in that. We used to call it “the painful truth.”

But in this season of Lent I’ve been trying to slow down in regards to other areas of my life. Basketball season is always the most hectic, chaotic time of the year for me as I coach two teams, officiate high school games when I’m available (which, my game assignor, this year informed me was not very often!), lead our church’s Buddy Basketball program, while beginning a new year as pastor of a church that is always challenging.

Going fast is a condition for me…kind of like dandruff! A few years ago I took two weeks off after Easter and on Day 14 I finally was slowing my pace.

So I’m intentionally trying to not be fast in the weeks leading up to Easter. How do you do that? I eat soup!

Say what?

I eat soup! It is hard to eat soup fast, especially tomato or chicken noodle. I can’t keep the noodles in the spoon if I try to eat them fast. Soup is a slow food for me…a reminder…to take my time.

I’m also pausing a few times each day to…do nothing…to just sit. I’ve been reading Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. One small detail hit me about Abraham Lincoln. He would often sit in a chair in front of the fireplace with his long legs crossed and ponder…think…for long periods of time.

Lord knows, Lincoln had more things to worry about than I do, but he still slowed his pace to just sit for a while.

“Sitting for a while” brings back pictures of days gone by back in Oil Springs, Kentucky, where my grandfather…Papaw Dewey Helton, would sit in the swing on the front porch in the evening and watch the cars go by. There were also a few cows in the pasture across the road to look at, but it was a slow pace…a time to sit and jaw jack, tell inflated stories, and respond with amazement at other fish tales.

Soup and sit. Two things to remind me to not be fast. You might call them “simmering moments.” A good stew always needs some time to simmer.

I realize that there are other people around me in hyper-mode, who want to speed me up. I was officiating one of our Buddy Basketball games for the youngest age group Kindergarten through 2nd Grade). They run up and down the court like excited puppies at play time. I don’t move much during those games. As I said to someone, “I don’t have to run after them, because any moment now they’ll be coming back in this direction.”

I’m seeking to stay…not rush after what to others seems urgent…not rush to judgment.

Let me tell you! It’s hard. There are certain decisions that need to be made quickly, but most are saturated with the urgency of personal agendas.

I’m letting things simmer…eating the chicken noodle soup of life…and just sitting for a while!