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The Saturday Journal: What We Leave Behind

My brother recently found what he believed to be my Grandma Lackey’s New Testament.  He brought it to me and yes, it's hers. I recognize her handwriting. Inside her thread-bare and worn Bible, we found newspaper clippings–mostly obituaries of people she knew.  And one of the obituaries is my Grandpa Rhodes’ and the headline, “Rhodes: Farmer of Wilkes”.  The clipping–close to 62-years old now, is faded, wafer-thin--an obituary I’d never seen before. A treasure I will hold close.


It will matter to someone--somewhere--someday--what we leave behind. 



The old building rested on the corner of 10th street and housed a pharmacy along with a lunch counter. It was a place where me, as a young girl bought my first and only jar of freckle removal cream with my birthday money--all of five dollars. Just a note--don't be fooled into buying any. It doesn't work.


The Red Cross Pharmacy lunch counter was fashioned with silver round pedestal stools where a customer could belly up to the counter and sit on comfortable red vinyl cushioned seats. The seats would spin too. Big antique fans swiveled overhead lifting the smoke from the flame-lite grill. Lunch at the Red Cross Pharmacy was a treat for anyone fortunate enough to get one of those sacred seats. I spent many a Saturday with my Great Aunt Lena enjoying grilled egg salad sandwiches and split-fried hot dogs with real homemade slaw and real homemade chili. Another gift of dining at the pharmacy was seeing my Great Aunt Ethel. She was one of the cooks there--along with Lillian. And that chili--the Red Cross Pharmacy chili--I make it often now and even though my children and grandchildren will never spin on one of those barstools like I did as a child or smell the goodness of Ethel's chili there--because of a recipe so graciously shared--they can taste a memory.


It will matter to someone--somewhere--someday--what we leave behind.



Our Grandma Lackey's house was like a second home to my brothers and me. She lived within walking distance--cut through the field or woods and we could be there within a few minutes. We never knocked on the door--we didn't have to--it was home. However, on some occasions we would surprise her and we would get scolded--not with words, but with the waving of her arm. My Grandma had a telephone and she shared that phone line with a few other neighbors down our country graveled road. It was called a party-line. That's just how it was back then. A private line was expensive--so she and my Grandpa chose the party-line. And one of the drawbacks from being on a party-line was having to wait your turn to use the phone. And another kind of obstacle of the party-line--it was a temptation to listen to the musings of the neighbors' conversations. Anyway, this is how the story goes--the story that happened more than once.


My Grandma was sitting in her oversized upholstered rocker and this chair could spin around in a New York minute and that's exactly what it did on this summer day. My brothers and me came storming through the kitchen door all loud and my Grandma spun around and her free arm began flailing in the air motioning for us to be quiet. Now you see listening in on a party-line telephone took skill--it was actually a practiced art. It wasn't like the phones of today where they are glued to our sides like an extra kidney we can't live without. The phone was plugged to the wall and the cord would only reach so far.


And to become a good party-line listener, first you had to slowly picked up the receiver while gently lifting the receiver button at the same time--not to make a sound. Then you listened for these words, "did you hear something? did someone just pick up?" And if the answer was no--you were in--safely in. If the answer was yes--then you politely hung up. There was another step to being safely in though--you had to cover the mouthpiece of the receiver with a thick washcloth or kitchen towel. It muffled the noise more than your free hand. Now my Grandma didn't practice this daily---being a party-line listener--nor did she mean any harm--neither did her neighbors. Looking back, I believe they all had this unspoken covenant between them--I know you listen. You know I listen. No harm done. Enough said.


I'm thankful for the memories my Grandma left behind--whether she was mastering the skills as a party-line listener or watching her favorite day-time show, "Days of Our Lives"--The vivid pictures of her sitting in her favorite chair always brings a smile and a remembrance of a simpler time.


It will matter to someone--somewhere--someday--what we leave behind.





My church just celebrated 60 years and I've been blessed to be a small part of a committee who is gathering photos and notes and other information to be used in our church's history book. As I was looking through old files and records the other day, I came across a file labeled cards and in the file were cards the church had received over the years. As I was reading each card--one in particular stood out from the others. It was from an elderly lady--a shut-in, I'm assuming. And inside the card was a message of thanks along with a photo of the elderly lady--as if she was trying to say--this is a picture of me--please don't forget me.


It will matter to someone--somewhere--someday--what we leave behind.



The sun peaked through the clouds on this cold March Sunday. And even though the sun brought in a new warming Sabbath--I was drowning in a darkness of grief like I had never known. It was the morning of my Daddy's celebration of life service. My Mama had went onto church in her sorrow--but I just couldn't. So I stay behind--alone--surrounded by silence. My brother and I had to agreed to speak later that afternoon at the service and I could not wrap my mind around the sheer emptiness of my grieving heart--much less put together words about my Daddy's life to share with family and friends. I began looking through some of Daddy's things in his room and came across some old notebooks he had been collecting--using them somewhat as journals--writing his thoughts--his prayers--words to songs he loved. And at his service I shared his own words--thoughts he wrote about his love for Jesus and these words of wisdom and hope--


"When you don't know what to do, pray."


"Almost home" .


It will matter to someone--somewhere--someday--what we leave behind.



 

A humble and heartfelt thank you for reading.

If you would like to have The Saturday Journal  and Stories from the Mouse's Hole come to your email box, please subscribe to A Beautiful Grace blog and newsletter at http://www.tathelmiller.com


All photos @copyright Tathel Miller, unless otherwise credited to another photographer.






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