It seems like only yesterday I was sitting in Daddy’s lap shouting, “Rock! Rock! Rock!” My earliest memory is probably one of begging him to go faster in our old wooden chair. I was big enough to rock solo if my feet could have reached the floor, but he seemed to enjoy it as much as I did.
Daddy would push the rocker back close to the tipping point, taking us on a high-thrill ride that required no tickets. That’s a vague memory, which likely would have completely faded except for my mother laughing about it over the years. Sedentary activities had no appeal at that point in life, but I’ve gradually embraced the concept and have almost perfected my technique.
It seems like only yesterday Mr. Frank Giles was showing me a mongoose he secretly kept at Giles & Hodge Farm Center. When the mongoose escaped riding a spring-loaded door, a furry tail slapped me in the face. I thought I’d die or at best be scarred for life. Mr. Frank retired that prank after it caused a man’s heart to skip a few beats.
It seems like only yesterday wrestling in the dirt was a regular part of recess. We called it rasslin’ at Pinehurst Elementary and mimicked our favorite television heroes. We pulled for The Kentuckian and Andre the Giant and booed at evil villains like The Assassins. Sometimes we wondered how the referees could be so blind to the brazen cheating of the bad guys. Shouting at the screen was our only recourse as we hoped justice would prevail.
It seems like only yesterday a bumblebee stung me as I played on the small front porch of Harmony Baptist Church. The hurt is long gone, but the curative process has stayed with me. Mr. Ernest Clemons, a gray-haired gentleman of my grandparents’ generation, put a wad of chewed tobacco on my arm. He pressed it firmly then told me to hold it in place. Whether tobacco has any medicinal value I don’t know, but it took my focus off the pain. Healing often begins with the mind.
It seems like only yesterday I was eating world class dinners with my great-aunt, Ruth Hill Shelton. She was a splendid old-style cook who milked a few cows and churned butter well into her senior years. She bartered her butter in Hawkinsville for groceries and made the world’s best pecan pies. That’s why Jane relies on her recipe and is passing it along to our grandchildren.
The only drawback of eating with Aunt Ruth was watery milk. I drank milk at every meal during early childhood, but what she served was sorely lacking in flavor. Blue John, as some folks call it, is what’s left after the cream is skimmed off. I understood she needed the cream for making butter, so drinking Blue John seemed a small price to pay for an otherwise awesome feast.
It seems like only yesterday Grandmama Hill was packing her big family into a small house for frequent gatherings. TV tables helped accommodate the overflow crowds as did her merry approach to hosting. After a generous slice of Ethel Nelson’s egg custard pie, the men would adjourn to the screen porch while women washed dishes and kids rambled in the woods along the spring-fed stream.
It seems like only yesterday I was plinking out a few simple piano tunes at Mama Joiner’s. I started taking lessons in the second grade from Mrs. Myrtle Peavy. We didn’t have a piano, so I’d walk the short distance to where my father grew up, set the alarm clock for 30 minutes, then practice with no hint of enthusiasm. Despite my lack of talent and effort, Mama Joiner always told me how good it sounded. I was grown before realizing her kind words reflected her love for me more than the music.
It seems like only yesterday I was following my father across a freshly plowed field, stretching my short legs to step in his footprints. Several decades later I was walking behind him on newly turned soil and realized I was again stepping in his tracks, this time without intention. It seemed too childish to mention, but that moment evolved into a cherished lesson.
That memory reminds me of the chorus of an old song. “Footprints of Jesus, that make the pathway glow; We will follow the steps of Jesus wher-e’er they go.” It seems like only yesterday I was singing those lines with innocent confidence. By now it should be second nature to follow in Jesus’ steps, but it’s not. It’s a challenge, because sometimes I don’t want to stretch my legs that far.