Katie & The Bird

Katie, a seven-year-old felt maternal for the half-naked starling that fell out of the sky and into her life one Saturday afternoon. Twenty-four hours later the bond was solid. Every thirty minutes or so she cautiously poked a hamburger “worm” down his throat with a tiny stick. He chirped, Katie poked. When Katie’s parents arrived the next morning they knew church was out of the question. There was no point in going to Sunday School to learn about kindness and love if you were required to leave one of God’s helpless creatures alone and without food for hours. As Katie proudly demonstrated her ability as a surrogate everyone was impressed by her expertise, especially Aunt Dianne.

After the people lunch it was again time for Bird to eat. Katie went outside to the specially prepared box to find it empty. The whole family searched and searched the yard looking under every structure and bush. Katie, though very quiet, was picturing all the harm that could come to a weak little bird. Daddy said, “Well, it wasn’t a cat, there are no feathers around.” Pop said, “I bet Bird was adopted by a Robin. I’ve seen Robins take care of orphaned birds.” Aunt Dianne said, “You took such good care of him, Katie, he was probably strong enough to fly away.” Grandmother related a story of Mommy’s beagle which disappeared without a trace and how Grandmother had always thought pleasant thoughts of his maverick adventure.

Mommy walked silently beside Katie as they continued to search all around in the ninety-five-degree heat and all the while afraid of what they might find. Finally, all the places had been explored and the disappointed family returned inside to the chilly air-conditioned kitchen. The grown-ups went back to their places at the table to cool off with some iced tea. Katie silently walked up the stairs to her own private space in Grandmother and Pop’s house. She entered the special room with all her Beanie Babies and other favorite stuffed animals who didn’t require feeding and she lay on her bed thinking of Bird out in the hot sun. Where could he be? Just as tears began to run down her cheeks she felt someone else’s weight on the bed with her. Without opening her eyes, she knew exactly who it would be. Mommy began to rub Katie’s back with the same love and tenderness with which Katie had cared for Bird. Without many words, Mommy assured Katie she, too, felt sad for Bird and was very concerned about the real dangers the big world might hold for such a little creature. They lay quietly on the bed for a long time.

Although there was no answer to the mystery of where Bird was, Katie wanted to be brave so she and Mommy eventually went back down the stairs to rejoin Grandmother’s birthday party. Katie and Mommy went to their car together to get Grandmother’s present and walked gingerly back around the house, still very quiet. As Katie stepped onto the patio she heard “chirp, chirp, chirp!” and under the shade of one of Grandmother’s big herb pots stood Bird impatiently demanding food.

Written 6/29/98

BIRD

Gender Equality

In 1997 after much thought and anguish I officially left the church I was raised in, the church I had served for my entire adult life. At times I have struggled to explain my reasons to those who didn’t understand. I should have let President Carter explain for me. He does so perfectly. I am a recovering Southern Baptist and here’s why.

Losing My Religion for Equality

by Jimmy Carter, July 15, 2009

Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.

I HAVE been a practising Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention’s leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be “subservient” to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.

This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women’s equal rights across the world for centuries.

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.

In some Islamic nations, women are restricted in their movements, punished for permitting the exposure of an arm or ankle, deprived of education, prohibited from driving a car or competing with men for a job. If a woman is raped, she is often most severely punished as the guilty party in the crime.

The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in the West. The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us. The evidence shows that investing in women and girls delivers major benefits for society. An educated woman has healthier children. She is more likely to send them to school. She earns more and invests what she earns in her family.

It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and outdated attitudes and practices – as we are seeing in Iran where women are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom.

I understand, however, why many political leaders can be reluctant about stepping into this minefield. Religion, and tradition, are powerful and sensitive areas to challenge. But my fellow Elders and I, who come from many faiths and backgrounds, no longer need to worry about winning votes or avoiding controversy – and we are deeply committed to challenging injustice wherever we see it.

The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by former South African president Nelson Mandela, who offer their influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity. We have decided to draw particular attention to the responsibility of religious and traditional leaders in ensuring equality and human rights and have recently published a statement that declares: “The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable.”

We are calling on all leaders to challenge and change the harmful teachings and practices, no matter how ingrained, which justify discrimination against women. We ask, in particular, that leaders of all religions have the courage to acknowledge and emphasise the positive messages of dignity and equality that all the world’s major faiths share.

The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place – and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence – than eternal truths. Similar biblical excerpts could be found to support the approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.

I am also familiar with vivid descriptions in the same Scriptures in which women are revered as pre-eminent leaders. During the years of the early Christian church women served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets. It wasn’t until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy Scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious hierarchy.

The truth is that male religious leaders have had – and still have – an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions – all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.

SOURCE: OBSERVER

Jimmy Carter was president of the United States from 1977 to 1981.

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“Gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance.” Kofi Annan

Pappy’s Hat

Pappy’s Hat

My Grandfather’s hat was always at the ready. It was as though he was not decent, or a gentleman, without it. When dressed for church he would put it on his head as he left the house. That was his Sunday hat. 

When inside, whether at his little house or in his big store, his bare head showed. He was mostly bald with a few sprigs of white hair spread across the top. Upon leaving any building whether sunny or cold, a hat was placed squarely on that head. It was straw in summer and felt in winter. 

If he was working outside on a hot day the hat would be old and stained from sweat. That was not his primary function in life however, because he ran a general store and Post Office and he didn’t have to sweat much in those jobs. 

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His attire was simple, as was most men’s in those days. About all he needed was one suit and white shirt with tie for Sundays and funerals. Other days gray pants and a cotton shirt would do with a sweater added in winter. His shoes were black leather and tied neatly. He had rubber covers for those oxfords on rainy days. He called them “galoshers.” Top it all off with a hat and Pappy was good to go. 

“A person carries off the hat. Hats are about emotion.                                                      It is all about how it makes you feel.” Philip Treacy

 

Theme photo of hat in title by Pixabay

Looking Back

Do You Remember?

  • Sprinkling laundry and refrigerating it in a plastic bag before ironing? Do you even remember ironing?
  • Cars not having air-conditioning, turn signals, seat belts nor heaven help us, cup holders?
  • Dialing a telephone, i.e., spinning that dial with one finger?
  • Car hops who delivered your food order which you then ate in the car?
  • Visiting folks without calling before dropping in?
  • When you kept up with relatives and friends by writing letters, known today as snail mail? 

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  • Blue Laws which required businesses to stay closed on Sunday? And, then later when they were allowed to open only after church “let out” at noon?
  • Women not wearing pants to church or much of anywhere else? I remember the first nurse who wore a pants uniform in our city. There was an article and photo in the local newspaper!
  •  When cameras had both film and flashbulbs? 

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  • When schools had recess?
  • Books were not audible?
  • When passengers smoked on airplanes during flight?
  • Farmers (usually the wife) killing their chickens for food? 
  • When unwanted pets were “dropped”?  Sadly, it still happens today. Here’s one named Jackson that was fortunate enough to be found and adopted.IMG_6272

I Remember

And the list could go on and on.  I make no judgment. For the most part, I like the ways things are today and I love technology. That does not mean I don’t grow nostalgic at times thinking about how some things were in the past. 

Death – to Bury or Not

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To Bury, Cremate, Donate, Plant – Disposal of Human Remains

Another decision that must be made concerns disposal of bodily remains. For many years burial in a family or church cemetery was the norm, however that is changing for both environmental and economic reasons. In 2015 cremation rate in the US was 48.6% and expected to rise each year into the future. Rates vary across the country with over 60% in the West and as low as 25% in southern states.  There are other options, of course which actually increase the cost, such as cryogenics, ashes blasted into space or adding ashes to an artificial reef in an ocean. 

Cemeteries 

Interment in a cemetery has fallen into disfavor due to cost, but also because of what many see as misdirected use of land. While I personally prefer cremation and scattering of ashes (also called cremains) back into nature, I must admit that I have always found cemeteries interesting to visit. In old cemeteries I would go further and say that reading tombstones can be fascinating. I know that I am not alone, because many books have been written on the subject including:  9781586853211_p0_v1_s192x300 “Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography” by Douglas Keister  and  “Gone to the Grave: Burial Customs of the Arkansas Ozarks 1850-1950” by Abby Burnett which was reviewed in The Courier Journal  in November 2015. Some of my favorite epitaphs from this book are these: “Killed by a live wire” (1905), “Revenge is my motto” (1869) and “This can’t be death. I feel too good” (1906).

 

When I was in Russia a couple of years after the fall of the Soviet Union, I toured a large old cemetery that was, according to custom there, divided into sections by profession or status. There were sections for the arts with subsections containing poets, musicians and actors. fullsizeoutput_a21.jpeg There were others for military, government officials, Communist Party members, working class (the proletariat) and even the Mafia.

 

I noticed many tombstones that bore the skull and cross bones symbol and inquired of the interpreter what that meant. Her response? “They’re dead”.     IMG_4036.JPG

The skull and cross bones, while perhaps peculiar to Russia, are part of the monument period of Terror which represented symbols of fear of the afterlife. This was followed by the Romantic fullsizeoutput_a13.jpeg and then Personalization Periods.  The Contemporary period in which we now live, leads to what are often attempts at humor. A word of warning about being too creative however, as what is funny today may be confusing or fall flat when it has become outdated. A couple of examples come to mind: A monument depicting a rotary and corded telephone simply said, “Jesus Called”. I’ve seen photos of others that show a calculator, an expired parking meter and even a brownie recipe. 

One of my favorite tombstones is from Clay County, TN which explains that the deceased was “killed by bushwhackers” in 1862 in neighboring Fentress County. Unfortunately the photos taken and provided for this post by Steve Baugh have been lost due to my error.

I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it” Mark Twain. 

 


Note 1/1/18:  Another Option for Disposal    https://crookedcreek.live/2017/11/06/infinity-suit/

Death – Funerals

Funerals

Funerals are not high on anyone’s list of favorite social events. Well, there may be a few exceptions. One of my sweet aunts, who will not be named here, lived a block or two from the funeral home in her small town. When she saw activity indicating visitation or a pending funeral service at the establishment, she would dress in her Sunday clothes and walk to join the mourners. She was not being nosy, there was every reason to expect she would know the deceased. She had lived in this rural Kentucky County her whole life and knew just about everyone. She especially liked the young funeral director who always welcomed her with a hug. 

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The funeral home industry and its traditions have changed greatly over the years. There was a time when the deceased was embalmed at home and “laid out” in the parlor for the wake which usually lasted three days and nights. Just as the wake was transferred to a formal “funeral parlor” the venue of the funeral itself has moved, in most cases, from houses of worship. Today an abbreviated period of “visitation and viewing” has become the norm and funerals are “celebrations of life”. When visiting a funeral home today one likely encounters videos of the deceased on flat screens strategically placed throughout the parlor. Often there are photos and collages and posters honoring the life that has passed. So called “theme” funerals may focus on the deceased’s favorite sports team, hobby or profession. The coffin is often closed or not present at all or there may be an urn containing ashes. The memorial service can be planned for a time in the future that is more suitable to the family’s circumstances as it is no longer necessary to have all this occur immediately after the death. This delay allows the family to be passed the initial shock of the loss and to more fully receive offerings of support and sympathy. 

So, there are traditions, there are religious cannons, local laws and there are one’s personal preferences. Your preference, what would you like your final event on this earth to be like? While you are reading this, still capable of making important decisions is the time to communicate your wishes. This can be part of the discussion when you have “the talk” https://crookedcreek.live/2017/01/25/death-decisions/ with your family. It is also helpful to have a few things written down, such as favorite poems, music, speakers. If there are things you feel strongly about clearly document those and if you have reason to doubt your wishes will be honored, they should be included in your Will, which is binding. 

Many people complete their plans formally and even pay for their funerals in advance of need. Whether planning your own funeral or a loved one’s it is critical that you ask questions of the funeral home staff and have concrete information. One common misconception is embalming is required by law. It is not and electing to not have embalming can save a significant amount of money. Embalming is a mysterious process to most of us and because of our reluctance to think about death, we often do not want to know what actually takes place in order to preserve the appearance of a corpse for just a little extra time. Further, the impact upon the environment by use of toxic chemicals can be significant. According to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) embalming provides no public health benefit. It also has no roots in most religions, including Christianity. For more information on the actual process you may reference http://www.fcasocal.org/embalming-facts.html

The funeral or memorial service, besides reflecting the life that has ended, should be a comfort for survivors. Those who are part of a religious community are comforted by common beliefs and the expectation of an afterlife. Music can be heartbreaking or inspiring. November 18, 2016, The New York Times asked readers what their deathbed playlist preferences would be. The range, not surprisingly varied from hard rock to classics. Probably the same music we would enjoy hearing in our last days or hours of life, would be appropriate for our service, too, as long as it would not be offensive or hurtful in some way to others.  Most of us recall fondly at least one song from each of our loved ones’ funerals. Poems are frequently read that reflect the deceased’s philosophy or special interests. A eulogy may be provided by a close friend or family member. Such a tribute should be written out so if the person delivering the words becomes too emotional to proceed, the minister or other person officiating can be prepared to read it. 

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Eulogy

This is the eulogy I delivered at my stepfather’s funeral. I was pleased to be able to honor his memory and after all these many years I still feel his life can be a lesson for those of us living today. 

We are here to honor Leroy’s memory. Each of us knew him on a different plane. He may have been your neighbor, your customer or friend, a relative, by birth or by choice. 

Whether you knew him for eighty years or eight, you no doubt, knew him to be a good person, an honest man to be trusted and one who loved the land and took pride in his profession of dairy farmer.

He was many other things too. SECURE IN WHO HE WAS, holding no old fashioned gender roles – the same hands that worked the farm washed dishes and cooked a mean casserole.

GENTLE – he watched birds, fed kittens, loved to see magnolias bloom. Small children were given his full attention, whether playing a silly game or observing an earthworm on the sidewalk after a rain.

TOLERANT – he had convictions, but allowed us ours.

A ROMANTIC – taking his bride to Niagara Falls and each anniversary giving her one red rose for each year of their marriage.

FAITHFUL – to his church and more importantly to his Lord. 

And he was, of course, many other things, but there is one last attribute I want to share with you. I learned this about Leroy after the death of his only son, Bobby.

He was a very PRACTICAL person. Even though he grieved his losses, he did not allow those losses to steal the happiness he was offered by each new day of life. He did not deplete his energies agonizing about things he could not change. I think he would remind us of that today. 

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Next time we will look at one more remaining decision, disposal of remains. This will not conclude the list of things that must be decided upon at the time of one’s death, but will have covered the most crucial ones. 

Holidays

Several things are on my mind to write about in 2017. One subject is grief, which I hope to treat extensively. It is a topic many find difficult, but few people escape life without experiencing it, usually more than once. Since this is true it seems it would be helpful to give some time to exploring what it is like, what we can do to help others through it and how we can prepare for it personally.

As readers of Crooked Creek, I’d like to ask you to consider participation as we go forward into new year. I would love to have your thoughts on my posts. I’m not asking for a “like” as on Facebook or a compliment on the writing (although I admit I do enjoy that). On any subject, I really would appreciate your sharing your thoughts, personal experiences or disagreement. I want this blog to be not a pulpit, but rather a forum.

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We can start now by sharing our childhood experiences for this time of year. While I’m sure there are many holiday similarities, I have no doubt there are also great differences. For one thing, we don’t all celebrate the same holidays. Some are made of legend, some are cultural or ethnic, others a mixture of fantasy and religion while still others are High Holy Days. My tradition is celebrating Christmas. I’ll go first and look forward to hearing from you about some of your early holiday memories (in the Comment space).


 

Christmas Memories

From my preschool years I have few memories. I have heard very intelligent people have memories from a young age, so I suppose that lets me out of the Mensa crowd. My memories before going to first grade are fragmentary and I am sometime unsure whether they are true memories, tales told to me over the years or perhaps just what I think I remember, because of old photographs. I will share two Christmas memories I have from this early childhood period.

🌟   The Star

When it was time to put up a Christmas tree my Dad and older brother would take an ax and go out to find a suitable cedar. While they were scouting the tree and nailing cross boards on the bottom to make it stand, Mom and I would drag out an old cardboard box filled with decorations. The only object I can remember lifting from the box was a star my brother had, some previous year, cut out and covered with tinfoil. I thought it was so beautiful and couldn’t wait for it to be in place on top signifying the tree was complete and ready for Santa Claus.

jingle-bells-clipart-clipart-best-j8isoi-clipart The Bells

The one other memory from that time was a regular Christmas celebration at our small country church, Mt. Vernon Baptist. It was usually at night and sometimes there was a play with Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. At other times a rather suspicious Santa would show up confusing kids who didn’t quite grasp where he fit in with the shepherds and Wise Men. Regardless of whether he made it, there would always be a paper bag filled with hard candy for each child. I liked the candy, because we didn’t often have it around our house, especially with the war going on and sugar being scarce. The year I clearly remember coming home from the church program it happened to be Christmas Eve. Maybe because I was full of sugar, or more likely as Mammy said, I had “spunk,” I wasn’t interested in getting into bed as I was instructed. I ran around our little house in my coat, hat and mittens trying my mother’s patience until suddenly I heard bells ringing out in the yard! I ran screaming to my bed and covered up, coat and all, waiting to see if the ringing would stop or if the sleigh would go away, on down Crooked Creek Road without stopping.

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It was many years before I was told about Mom sending Daddy outside to ring those bells.

Theme photo and graphics by Pixabay

Minnie I

Minnie at Church

Deciding to rush from work to join Minnie tonight and not wanting to make her late, I had actually arrived early. I knew how much it meant to her to attend the meetings just as she had attended church regularly for her eighty-plus years of life. Too late I learn she is disappointed, because when I am not here the Preacher stops by and brings her to the service. She feels special, I supposed, arriving with the Preacher. As I look around for familiar faces arriving in all manner of garb, I made a mental note to be late next time so she could be escorted the way she preferred.

Attendees 

There is Dr. Lee, as reticent as ever. It is my opinion she is not stuck up, but rather, she has difficulty in social situations. Her athletic shoes look strangely out of place, not for the venue, but for her. Charles enters looking troubled and carrying the dogeared spiral notebook in which he writes throughout each service. I used to think he was a serious Bible scholar critiquing the message, but today I overheard him saying something about bills as he flipped madly through the pages. Strangely, he seemed concerned about NOT receiving bills as he queried others about the status of their bills. Mr. and Mrs. Harvey arrive together and she looks more frail than in the past. Minnie had told me “Mrs. Harvey is on the verge of dialysis, but she is resisting.” I didn’t know dialysis was an optional treatment.

There’s Lena walking straight to a seat which will accommodate her should she care to lie down during the service.  Some people are extremely bothered by her habit of reclining at any time and in any setting, but others hardly seem to notice. There’s a lady coming this way who I do not know. Carefully groomed, she has small delicate hands with perfectly polished nails. She doesn’t look left or right as she gets settled in the seat next to Minnie who pointedly doesn’t look at her either.  Instead, she is looking enviously at the woman being escorted into the service by the Preacher.

The room is almost full now. Some faces are less familiar, but just as interesting. The piano player is getting out song books for the worshipers to share.  Finally, when all are quiet and poised for the singing to begin, my favorite makes her entrance. Esther truly is an aristocratic sight as she makes her way first to greet the musician. She is wearing a navy blue blazer, oxford shirt, neatly creased trousers and low heeled pumps.  Her navy purse is perfectly balanced hanging from one stately squared shoulder. She stops by each person, graciously offering her hand as she bends down ever so slightly, so she can look them directly in the eyes. As she comes closer I can hear each greeting, “So glad you came,” “Thank you for coming,” “It is so good to see you!”  As she completes the circle, addressing the last person, she regally exits the room to be seen no more this evening.

Singing

Hymn books are passed, the song leader takes her place and the piano begins a cadence not unlike a funeral dirge. The hymns are old and familiar Protestant fare, including Rock of Ages, On Jordan’s Stormy Banks and The Old Rugged Cross. Charles scribbles in his book, Lena starts to ease toward a recumbent position, Dr. Lee’s face is immobile as she holds her head and song book erect. Minnie and the two Harveys are each on a different note and none are the same as the one the song leader is singing. The Preacher grins goofily at his congregation while singing loudly in the note the leader was determined to maintain.

Praying

Prayer request and praise time is next in the order of service and the Preacher begins this portion by sharing how thankful he is that he is “healthy and able to do the Lord’s work,” while looking around the room at blank faces and ailing bodies. Next, he invites the congregation to share prayer needs and praises. A small black lady in the front row said she would like prayer that she could “walk good again.”  The Preacher responds, “Yes, Mrs. Long.”  Another woman tearfully asks prayer for her great nephew who was paralyzed in a recent football accident.  The Preacher was visibly moved and replied, “We will certainly pray for him.  How hard it must be on the whole family. You know, it is so tragic for this to happen to a young man. Girls can just take this sort of thing better, but a boy knows he needs to get out into the world and work, provide for a family.” The worshippers nod in agreement. The prayer requests continue ranging from paltry to profound amid sounds of hymnals hitting the floor and people coughing and muttering. Finally, the Preacher closes prayer time with a long prayer imploring God to hear, to have mercy and “If it was in His will” to grant the requests just made.  He didn’t mention the gentleman who had just shared that his “ass hurt.”

Preaching

The Preacher resumed his goofy grin and began the meat of the service. He started by telling some personal anecdotes, his eyes sweeping the room for reaction. The lady with the nephew didn’t disappoint. She kept her smiling eyes glued to his face and her hearing aid tuned to his every word. Charles kept reviewing his notebook. Lena was quietly supine. Dr. Lee stared straight ahead. Just as the Preacher began to read from his text for his main event, Minnie turned to the woman beside her with the nice manicure and suddenly shook her roughly by the shoulder shouting, “Wake up! Don’t you know you are not supposed to sleep in church!” The pretty woman’s head bobbed back and forth with the shaking making me wonder whether she was asleep or deceased. Either way, I was embarrassed. The Preacher didn’t miss a beat. Dr. Lee’s expression didn’t change. Charles didn’t take his eyes off the notebook. Mr. Harvey smiled broadly. As the Preacher’s words piled higher and deeper, I let my mind wonder like many in the room had done from the beginning.

Finally the service was over and I took Minnie by the hand, leading my Mother back to her room as the attendants, one by one, escorted the other nursing home residents to their rooms.

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Written 7/1/98      Revised December 2016

One Fear Explained

For as long as I can remember, I have been afraid of spiders. More specifically, I am terrified that spiders will crawl down my collar. My reflexive action upon seeing a spider, no matter how small, is to pull in my neck and hunch up my shoulders making my collar as tight as possible.

Lest you think I have entomophobia, (that is what you were thinking, righIMG_3477.jpgt?) allow me to present just a few photos as evidence that I love critters. In addition to the grasshopper above, here is a caterpillar which was recently chomping on my rosebush. I removed it by hand and placed it in my fairy garden where it could eat to its heart’s content. One day a couple of months ago, I stopped while shopping to photograph this cute inchworm on a flower near the entrance of a grocery. I think that she is adorable and I would have brought her home as a pet had she not looked so IMG_3052.jpghappy there. Speaking of taking bugs and worms home, here’s a cicada that I found on the front porch and it is currently in my living room. Okay, I said that I would always be honest with you, dear readers, so, I must admit that he was dead when I found him, but still, he is here in my house. He’s just too handsome to toss outside. I really do nIMG_3358.jpgot fear bugs. Okay, honesty check again, there is one that bug that I loathe as much as spiders. To me, the centipede is simply an elongated spider, but I do realize that it has more than eight legs, so does not qualify.

Many years ago, while reflecting upon my childhood, I recalled a day at Vacation Bible School at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church in Shelby County, near Anderson County where we lived. The day’s lessons, songs and Bible verses were vague memories, but I suddenly remembered our play period vividly. I suppose it is not unusual for children to remember recess, but this was different, in that we preschoolers were allowed to play in the cemetery that surrounded two sides of that country church. We respectfully ran among tombstones, carefully avoiding stepping on the graves, until a little boy noticed a small round hole on the top of one. He inspected closely and declared that he could hear something inside! Although frightened, we all lined up to take turns listening. When it was finally my turn, I knelt down and put my ear to the hole. He was right, there was a loud roaring sound coming from the hole and before I knew it there were millions of baby spiders on the ground and my cotton dress. They were on my shoulders and arms and, worst of all, they were crawling down inside my collar. With this horrifying memory, finally I knew why I have arachnophobia, a pathological fear or loathing of spiders.

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Mt. Vernon Baptist Church

Birthplace

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Our House on Crooked Creek

When I was little I was fond of saying that I was “born on Crooked Creek,” much to my mother’s chagrin. She told me that it didn’t sound right, so I reconstructed the sentence and started saying I was “born down on Crooked Creek.” but I didn’t notice Mom’s expression improving.

When I was in second grade, we moved to town, the metropolis of Taylorsville, KY, population something like 650, and that’s when I thought I had figured out the problem. There I learned that most of my new friends had been born in a hospital, not at home, as I had. For some reason I was sure that my Mom was embarrassed about not giving birth to my older brother and me in a proper environment. I didn’t know why she was so worried about that when there were other, more important, differences to be concerned about. I decided to keep very quiet about our not having a bathroom or running water back there in Anderson County.

One day, not long after moving, someone from the First Baptist Church visited to invite us to worship services. I knew a lot about church, having already been baptized and all, and I knew this visitor was very important to my Mom, so I was on my best behavior. I was pretty nervous, wanting to impress this man wearing a suit and neck-tie on a weekday, so that my Mom would be proud. Finally he turned his attention to me and asked that perfunctory question people ask of children, how old was I? For some reason, instead of answering with one simple word, I felt the need to blurt out, accurately I might add, that I was born eight years ago down “on Crooked Creek Road.” 

Mom always worried about what people would think, but it was a long time before I learned that her embarrassment had nothing to do with giving birth at home, but rather in a creek or on the road.

 

My Mom (Minnie)
My Mom