I grew up on a farm in South Texas. To be more exact, my family was the hired help for the Rich Man who owned the big farm in South Texas. My daddy, though loving, was not exactly the sort of man you depended upon...he couldn't hold a job for very long because he couldn't stay sober long enough to do it. Mama never held this against him, but she didn't let him stay around when he was drinking, so he'd disappear for long periods of time and then, bam, there he was again. Like nothing had ever happened...I was too young not to realize this wasn't normal, but my brothers all resented him for it.
The rest of us worked twice as hard to make up for what daddy lacked. Besides, the Rich Man was never there and he actually lived on an estate with a brick house and a guitar shaped swimming pool a couple of hours away. This was just a tax write off for him, or maybe it was charity, I don't know. But it was so much more than that for our family.
We'd get up at 4:30 am every morning during the school year to do our chores. I helped mama milk the cows while the boys fed and watered the cows, horses, chickens, and pigs. Mama and I would carry the big galvanized tin buckets back to the house and start breakfast while the boys finished up. Mama would put the buckets of milk on the counter to separate, and once we left for school, she would ladle off the heavy cream to make butter, pouring the rest of the milk in gallon size glass pickle jars to be sold in town or given away to others in need.
The smell of bacon and eggs frying would waft out through the screen door, calling my brothers to breakfast. We'd eat hurriedly, stacking our dishes by the sink for mama to wash once we caught the schoolbus for our hour long ride to the school. In a flurry, we'd pick up books, bags, and push open the old screened door to meet the bus that was bouncing up our driveway. When you lived way out in the country, you had to ride the short school bus to school. It was a brand new addition to our little school and no one had assigned any jokes to it back then. It smelled of our driver's pipe smoke and new vinyl. I loved climbing the steps each morning, taking a big whiff of Mr. B's pipe before finding my seat. It was comforting, somehow. The smoke would make swirling patterns in the air around me as I walked past him, and I can still hear his burly voice around that pipe saying, "Take your seats."
My children will have memories of their own. It saddens me that they will not grow up on a farm as I did. There are values that I don't know how to instill in them without having hard work to do. We were so poor, and yet I never knew it. My mama protected my childhood and allowed me to think what we had was normal and everyone lived the same way as we did. I honestly thought that everyone wore hand-me-downs from their sister-in-laws and shopped for their "new" clothes at the Salvation Army. Sometimes people would give mama fabric and I'd get a pretty new dress with frills. How special I felt. Warm, protected, loved. Those are the three words that come to my mind when I remember my early childhood days. How I long to recreate those for my own children. How can I know if I am doing it? Do I have to wait 30 years to find out?
So it's time to be thankful, time to remember what I came from, but more importantly, where I am going. This is but a season that we are going through, so I am thankful for a sovereign God who has taken care of me and will continue to take care of me, even when I don't deserve it.
Technorati Tags: children, thankful, Texas