Gerald’s cousin’s daughter Lynn and husband Brent Carter are visiting her dad, Bill
Tweedy, this week at his Cobden area farm. Lynn and Brent’s daughter Tiffany and two little girls--Aubrey, 4, and Kylie, 2—are there meeting up from the far sides of America. We wanted to see them before everyone returns to their side—the Carters to North Carolina and Tiffany to Oregon. Gerald suggested an outing, but their schedule didn’t allow it, so they invited us down last evening.
We left a little early since Gerald had planned to go to a Carbondale office supply store on his way home from physical therapy yesterday morning, but since this would be on our way to Bill’s house, he postponed that shopping stop until our evening trip. After obtaining the sale items we both found, we were back in the car heading south towards New Route 51.
Soon we came to the bright yellow water tower at Makanda, the sweet memorial to our late Senator Paul Simon, who lived in that village and always wore a bow tie. The smiley face on the water tower wears his signature tie, and we remember the impact for good that he accomplished for our region and our nation.
There we headed down Old 51, which always bring memories since it was the only way from our hometowns to Carbondale for so many years. We passed Dead Man’s Curve and the second sharp curve soon after and knew gratefulness for New 51. Going past Flamm’s Orchard, we remembered the peach cobbler being served on the picnic tables there. Turning at Limestone Baptist Church, we headed down the more narrow but lovely tree-lined Union Springs Road.
All through our journey, I was enjoying and so grateful for all the attractive and well cared for homes of just ordinary people who live on these rural lands. I had just finished re-reading Cora Alyce Seaman’s book that gave such an accurate account of Depression- era farm homes and lifestyles, and these homes re-enforced my acknowledgement of how fortunate Americans are today. Our wealth and comfort compared to then are so great. The next two generations younger than us with their phones, computers, and other luxuries, which they rightfully consider necessities in today’s world, have no idea what hard times really are. I am so glad.
Finally we came to the Tweedys’ beautiful home with its lovely vista. Brent and Bill and little Kylie were outside working on new back seats for Bill’s Gator that obviously pleases his great granddaughters as much as Gerald’s does our great grandsons.
Inside I was happy to see Lynn again and to meet Tiffany, whom I surely saw during her childhood but not often, and to make an acquaintance with blond Kylie and sandy-haired Aubrey, who were such pretty little pixies sharing their delightful charm and energy as they bounced around in our midst. (We missed Mickey, who was in Omaha with her daughters, but Bill assured us that her evening’s phone call had included an inquiry about Katherine, whom she faithfully prays for.)
Bill was scheduled for supper and a youth group he works with at his church, so he had to excuse himself before we sat down to Lynn’s delicious supper she had prepared for us. The two little girls were seated at the counter near us with their glasses of milk and plates of food, and I noticed they seemed to enjoy supper to replace all the energy they had expended. Brent and Lynn said they would soon be in bed and quickly asleep after their hard day’s play and activities.
We talked long at the table even after the yummy fresh Flamm peaches were served with hot-from-the-oven homemade cookies. We were still talking when Bill came in from his youth meeting explaining he was later than he intended because of a health crisis in one youth’s life that everyone was dealing with. Soon he was on the phone in the other room continuing for a long time to deal with the situation.
I knew so much gratitude for people like Bill who are ready to share their time and talents immersing themselves with the lives of other people’s kids Never mind, that he might excuse himself claiming he had done his part many years before with his three daughters and friends. Or he could claim fatigue that was certainly present from his recent participation in an agriculture conference in Hawaii. Or he could easily sound quite reasonable if he chose to skip youth work because of all the trouble his back is causing him recently—probably requiring more surgery very soon. But he is ignoring all his own pain and the reasons he might not be able to serve and is gladly investing in these kids’ lives.
Finally still talking around the table, Gerald and I were yawning and knew it was past our bedtime and probably our hosts’ and we started into the country darkness to head home. We were richer with the biggest cantaloupe I think I’ve seen from Bill’s garden and with some of the peaches he wanted to share from Flamm’s. We were also richer from an evening with loved ones from both coasts of our nation who are filling their lives with service to others as they also care for their children and grandchildren and participate in America’s 21st Century with all its benefits and challenges.
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