Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Long Long Ago and Now

Seems like yesterday that our grandkids first came to the farm to be together and attend Vacation Bible School at our village church:  Elijah, Trent, Geri Ann, and Brianna.  As usual, I was helping there, so it was easy to take them along. For these preschoolers, staying at the farm for that long with each other was a big deal. I slept upstairs with them each night and we would tell stories and make sure no one became homesick. I am guessing the two boys were four or five and the two little girls were three or four. I was so proud having them attend with me.  A cherished memory was going to the local Kroger store and having those four following me like a line of little ducklings across the parking lot and into the store.  As we marched, bystanders watched and smiled at their cuteness.

That was the same year, I believe, that their big afternoon adventure at the farm was catching fish. At that time, we had two farm ponds with one at a higher level than the other though they were a long way apart.  It was planned to allow the higher pond to overflow with a wide shallow slice of running water gently flowing across the meadow and finally our side lawn and down to the lower pond.  That summer the stream of water was thick with baby fish.  The children were so delighted to be able to grab the little fish in their hands and look at them before letting them go on down to the lower pond.

After that, it became a tradition that the grandkids would come and attend VBS together. I encouraged mud pie making, catching fireflies, and other country past times. After we moved the half mile over to Woodsong from Pondside Farm, that first year here we had some adjusting to do. A favorite downstairs bedroom is completely underground and offers wonderful darkness.  We moved two queen size bedsteads into that room with barely room to walk between the beds, but the kids and I were able to sleep together there and continue telling stories and saying night time prayers. 

I think because Tara and Erin lived in our community up on Route 166 during their earliest VBS attendance, they attended from home. Leslie was still living in Carterville and went to VBS there I assume. For some reason that first year Leslie did not come down from Freeport, but later she did.  She also helped a year or so with the opening music. (At night she was as great at telling ghost stories as at music, and I had to put a stop to that when someone got too scared.)  Tara and Erin came down from Johnston City and helped too. Even Gma Shirley came from her church and helped one year when we needed more workers. When Sam and Cecelie became old enough to attend VBS, they joined the older kids. By this time, the cousins had grown very close and were adept at making up their own games and activities.  Geri Ann had to work around ball practices and games sometimes but she was always here when possible, but then she moved to Georgia.

As the kids grew up and entered high school, they would volunteer to be classroom helpers, so they continued to gather at the farm for VBS when camp and summer activities allowed. This year Trent and Elijah have completed their two years of college, but they are here to help teach. Soon to be a high school junior, Sam too is again  working  as he did in VBS at his own church. Brianna has little more than a month until she starts her college career. Once again she is working with preschoolers, and once again she gets to see the one special little girl that comes to our VBS from a nearby church each year.  They early bonded because just like Bri as a preschooler, this quiet little beauty was very shy. They understood each other intuitively.  It was so sweet to see their once-a-year friendship develop down through the years. There are other VBS kids their own age that our grandkids have stayed close to through Tweets and Facebook contact.  I like to think the children who have grown up to work in VBS are honing leadership skills that will profit themselves and others for years to come.

For the first time in decades, I am not working in VBS this year, and I don’t have to be sure to have adequate seat-belt spaces for grandkids going with me.  Their cars are parked outside.  I am enjoying hearing the piano in the living room at Woodsong though and the four here this year creating and practicing skits for opening exercises. I like hearing them debate what to do with their free day time since VBS is at night this year. While I was in bed this morning, Gerald said they got up early today and Sam scrambled eggs for the gang.

Some things haven’t changed, however. There are ten pairs of kicked-off shoes in the front hall the last I counted.  Half devoured cans of soda are left around.  Last evening after a swim in the lake, I picked up wet towels to toss in the washer/drier because I don’t like them left on carpeted floors. I enjoy it all  because of all the magical memories that started long long ago.

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