Maybe it was because it was her birthday. Maybe it was the time of the year that made me all…reflective, looking inward so I can see better outward. I don’t know what it has been…Maybe the Super Moon, but I have really been lost in yesterday.
Not my yesterdays…God and goodness knows that reflecting on that place of black ice has taught me several very important lessons, but reflecting back to Mom and Dad’s life, and how extreme the world has changed since they were the age of my children.
I posted on our CWMS Facebook page yesterday that I had really had an overhaul on what the kids wanted versus what they were getting this year for Christmas. It startled me that a few weeks ago when going through their rooms to gather things for Mom’s church group to take to an impoverished part of Kentucky, just how much they had…things that they either didn’t know they had, or things they had that had been forgotten once the new shine had dulled.
The seven bags that I ended up effortlessly gathering together had a huge, and sickening effect on me. My children were not gong to miss any of these things, yet these discarded things were going to make a child who had close to nothing feel rich beyond words.
I couldn’t help but to be drawn back to the stories Momma used to tell me of the joy she had over getting to choose a new pair of shoes each year from the Sears and Roebuck Catalog. I can see the look on James’s face right now if I told him that he was only allowed one new pair of shoes…for an entire year. The wrinkled brow, the half cocked head, the utter look of confusion and disbelief. Sadly, these are the realities of the current Appalachian Mountain families in 2016, as true today as they were upon Patsy Ann’s birth 70 years ago.
I got sucked in this blog today because it is all and everything I wanted to read so I could form the words I wanted to say…where has our ability to be content gone? I am sitting here writing this in full admittance that I am a hypocrite. I bought a new table-cloth, plate chargers and festive décor for Thanksgiving, only to whip it off, fold it up and put it away the day after to display my new finds for Christmas…why so an indulgence? It was on sale at Big Lot’s, thus being a “deal”. Did I have a green tablecloth? Yes…yes I did. A red one as well…sigh…yep. Why then did I need to spend the money on something that will have such a short shelf life and be more for looks than actual use? Why? Because I am not living the example I am trying to set, and that is a prickly burr of a pill to swallow.
It isn’t just the Holidays that I am looking at and rethinking, it’s everything. James is absolutely positive that he is experiencing some sort of medical “issue” at least twice a month. It ranges from sharp stabbing pains in various locations, to headaches, to fatigue, stress, stomach aches…you name it.
Most often these afflictions come just as the time approaches that he is needed to do a chore, homework, bedtime…anything that a malady would stall and buy time for just one more minute of whatever he wanted to do, i.e. video games, episodes of some teen pop program or most likely…sleep.
Everything is “just call the doctor.” or Do you think Dr. Paynter could fix this, that or the other. Truth is my children are hardly ever sick. Seriously, we may go to the doctor twice yearly, but the ease of everything, including seeing the doctor in my 13 year olds eyes…is as simple as a phone call.
Imagine you’re a bored little girl with nothing to do but stick ball barring’s in your ear until one is finally small enough to fit…and then fall deep into your ear canal or whilst pushing laundry through the your arm goes through the motorized wringer, or during a wonderful day of sliding on cardboard boxes down a steep hill slick with prairie grass you hesitate in jumping off and rolling to safety and tumble and roll right on to railroad tracks and one of the spikes spears your leg?
Do you call the doctor and make an appointment with the triage nurse? LOL…No, no… you do not. You try your best to find a way to get to the nearest hospital as soon as possible. Which usually isn’t that soon at all being that the closest hospital was normally well over an hour away and transportation is limited if any at all.
Another reflection I had about Mom is this…I am always hot…maybe it’s genetics because she is always hot as well…it is that time of year that we (I) battle the thermostat at the Stone Home. Apparently I like it colder than most. I can be quite comfortable at home with a t-shirt, a cardigan and some flannel pants. If I catch a chill, I can throw a blanket over my legs. James on the other hand is always cold. He has his Aunt Donna’s blood apparently, thin and blue. I can come home from work at five and before I even get through the door a wave of warm trapped air meets me at the door. Knowing that I turned it down to 63 before leaving, I can only assume that James has kicked it up a notch or several to be warm and toasty as he “relaxes” from his hard day being a seventh grader.
I wonder what he would do if he actually had to spend his summers finding larger lumps of coal to keep so when it became a chilly winter the home could stay warm. Mom used to tell me that in order to survive the bitter winters, the children would distract the engineers at the train depots, the men would then climb on top the mounds of coal in the cars and toss them down to the women to catch in their aprons. I bet that would make him a little quicker to suck it up and layer up!
So much of my time at night the past few weeks has been spent going over my current irritations in life and thinking back on all the wonderful stories shared over the years by my grandparents, and parents…especially my mom. We are long distance warriors when it comes to traveling in long car rides. Most of that time, if not all of it is spent talking about everything under the sun, her childhood being one of my favorite topics.
Would James take thirty minute showers if he were to be second, third…possibly fourth in line to use the tub of water? Doubtful. Love to know origins of sayings too…”Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water!” Usually due to the fact that the when it became time for the youngest to bathe the water is murky brown. It makes a three-minute hot shower seem like a luxury doesn’t it?
What if this was your commute to work? You would complain less about traffic and it would improve your disposition on road rage. We (I) can’t even begin to wrap my brain around the atrocities my grandfather endured working in the coal mines. Pitch dark, filthy air, long days and nights for almost nothing in pay.
As I write this I am going to try to fly out of here and run by the bank then pull into Harris Teeter and push a button…tell them my name is Stone, and have them bring my groceries to my van.
I won’t even have to get out of the car. Boy, times have changed…Coal miner wives would have to walk for miles on pay-day just to go and get the basics. Normally up and over mountainous terrain in all kinds of weather. We really have become so spoiled to convenience, ruined by instant gratification and lazy by all standards. I want to change as much as that as I can in 2017.
My reasoning for some of the time-saving tactics however, is that after a very long week I can go home and spend that hour or so with my family instead of impulse buying things I don’t need. That to me makes sense, and I can justify that one convenience. The other things I mentioned in this blog, those are my goals for the next year. To simplify. To recognize that life isn’t any sweeter or richer when it is spent at a faster pace…You risk losing out on the good stuff, the conversations, the laughter, the appreciation for what you have and the knowledge and gratitude that it is not only enough, but a blessing.
Next year I want to grow wiser, and hopefully teach my children to be more humble about things, which is incredibly hard. But that change has to happen with me first, or how else can I expect them to take me seriously or respect anything I am trying to teach them?
As I end this essay on reflection and deep appreciation my Mother, my very own coal miner’s daughter…I will share another quote from Loretta that stuck with me and seems very appropriate…“You’ve got to continue to grow, or you’re just like last night’s cornbread – stale and dry.” ~ Happy December followers…If we don’t speak again this year, I wish you well and hope that somewhere along the way this Holiday Season you too will realize there are no presents…like presence. Gods Speed…God Bless. ~ Kimberly