Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Blessed by a Gathering and then a Son's Visit

Monday evening I drove over to the little town of Pittsburg, one of several small towns or villages on our side of Williamson County—many of which came about or grew because of the coal mining industry, which used to reign in this region. No longer are most houses occupied by men with carbide lanterns on their hats and who carry their lunch in buckets down in the bowels of the earth. Despite the demise of many mines, some of our villages have survived but others have ceased to exist. When we first moved here in 1962, most of the people we met were miners. Most of those are now retired, deceased, or moved away when a mine closed. Sirens blowing and ambulances rushing on the highway are not as frightening as they used to be when you never knew what had happened at a mine. Right after we moved here, one miner was trapped in a mine. For several days, other miners risked their lives trying to get his body out until they were made to stop. Right now I can’t think of a single miner I know although we still have some mines in the area.

I digress. I went to Pittsburg for our monthly women’s meeting at Tally Taylor’s house. Wearing an orange shirt, she had sweet pumpkin figurines lighted for us and festive lights to welcome us. After yummy sandwiches with chips and dip, there was pumpkin cake, all served with colorful Halloween paper ware. Afterward, we sat at table savoring our cokes and coffee and visiting while we munched on candy corn. It was a neat social gathering with good friends on a cool fall night, but I realized anew how much can be done when everyone in a group pitches in a little.

In our meeting after singing and devotions, we had planned for a Thanksgiving dinner for the entire church and our many friends in the community. Two hams and three turkeys this year. That will provide plenty of take-out for shut-ins at the end of the evening. We eat this turkey and ham early in November because the Saturday night before Thanksgiving is deer hunting season, and some of our families depend on the hunt for their winter food. That works out well since we are hungry for turkey again with our individual extended families on Thanksgiving Day.

We also planned for our month to send Angel Bags home with some of our school children on weekends, our Christmas caroling with goody plates for shut-ins, and we had a volunteer who said she’d do the Christmas shopping for two needy children on the school’s list. Although we usually just slip in a dollar or so when a box or a dish is passed at our meetings, by December we usually have enough to give two children gifts.

No one of us could do all these activities by ourselves, but together, we do so without too much work by most of us. (Of course, some volunteers do the major work, but they have decided they have the time and energy and would get their reward with their enjoyment in the project.)

All over America right now, there are women’s clubs and units and friends’ groups who are busy planning similar activities. There are also business, civic, and fraternal organizations, where men and women are doing the same. I am convinced that such volunteerism has made Americans strong. Some volunteers in housing projects have caught on that to make our children strong, we need to involve them in giving. It is true that America has many self-absorbed and short sighted citizens, but it is an incomplete picture to not recognize the generosity of the many people who give despite their own struggle to pay their house payments, food and medicine bills, while trying to save for their kids’ college funds.

I was somewhat shocked when I came home from Tally’s and soon after had Gerald tell me our son was coming out from Marion. I had prayed for traveling mercies for him all weekend, but I had no idea his trip would include an extension north up through his home territory. Somehow in our discussions of this trip, Gerald and I failed to communicate perfectly. He thought I knew Gerry was coming our way. Although I would have prepared a different menu for Gerald’s left-behind supper when I went to Tally’s if I had known Gerry was coming in, there was adequate food available. (Mothers fret about such things. I remember how much pleasure my mother used to get planning meals when my brother was coming down. “Jimmy loves meat,” she would say as she decided her menu.) And even though Gerry thought he was too tired to eat after his late arrival, he did eat a bite while we visited before we all piled into our beds for needed sleep. The next morning we had time for a leisurely breakfast and more visiting. After lunch he took off for his home in the South and the work awaiting him there leaving behind his stories for us to giggle and talk about in our empty house. Tomorrow is his birthday, and I felt warmly blessed to have had his unexpected visit.

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