Over the years I have had folks ask me: “What in the world made you this way?”
I have never been quite sure how I should take that. So in keeping with me mother’s philosophy of life, if the underlying motive for the question is not quite clear I simply assume that the questioner is amazed at the quality folk standing before them and are wondering how to emulate such a thing. Now, that being said if it’s apparent that the question stems from neither fascination nor appreciation I simply say, “Hey, don’t blame me, my mother raised me!”
Let me expand on that at bit.
My mother, Bobbie Jean Rowell by name, was but a wisp of woman. She reached one hundred pounds only when she was expecting me and she was none to happy about that. She was a soft Southern Bell, born and raised in the South, and like all proper Southern Bells she never wore white after Labor Day and as many a Southern man has learned the hard way about Southern girls; that soft, demure exterior belied a core of spring steal and raw hide that you had best not mess with if you knew what was good for you.
She was also a bit of a traditionalist in an unconventional, nontraditional way. This oddity in her make up resulted in an Easter egg hunt that remains in my memory even though I was only four or five years old at the time. We were down on the panhandle of Florida visiting Granny and Grandpa Tharpe during the Easter break and I wanted to go fishing while my mother wanted to have an Easter egg hunt for my brother and me.
Personally, at that time in my life at least, finding a hard boiled egg, colored up or not did not even compare to watching a brightly colored cork head South with some poor unsuspecting fish on the other end of the line. Besides the fun is in the coloring, not the finding anyway.
Now for those of you in the know a determined five year old with a specific aim in mind can make your life miserable until you give in. I was told that it was Easter and that fishing was forbidden, but I knew it was the day before Easter, so that didn’t wash. I was told that Granny had a lot of cooking to do, but I didn’t care if it was Granny, Grandpa or cousins John, Joan and Jenny who went with me, I just wanted to go. I was told I was being childish and that made perfect sense to me; I was five after all. As it turned out nothing could dissuade me and my mother, spring steal and raw hide aside, gave in under the assault, or so it appeared. Actually she had a bit Solomon in her and told me that we could all go fishing, all the way down at Willis Landing, if I would let us stop somewhere on the way and have an Easter hunt. It took me many years and a couple of kids of my own to admit that my Mother had the whole planned and snookered me, a poor defenseless five year old.
So we piled in the old station wagon, clamped the fishing poles up on the roof and headed off for Willis Landing: worms, crickets and Easter eggs along for the ride. I kept asking Mom where we were going for the Easter egg hunt, by now my interest was peaked, and her only reply was “We’ll know when we get there.” About an hour later, after we had made the right turn at Wewa and were heading east towards Port St. Joe and Willis Landing my Mom whispered something in Grandpa’s ear and he hit the brakes, did a three point turn and headed back the other way.
By now I was craning my neck to see out the window, excited to find out where we were going. As we turned into an old driveway I saw what had to be the perfect place for a couple of young adventurous boys to have an Easter egg hunt. We both rolled out of the car and were confronted with an old dilapidated house. The yard was littered with all sorts of wonderful things to plunder. There was an old wringer washer, and an old ice box, not an Igloo mind you, but a genuine ice box with wooden sides and all. There was an old rusted car and enough junk scattered around to keep a couple of pickers in business for a year. It was beautiful. My mother had hit a home run in my eyes.
After Grandpa had gone through the place with a big stick making enough noise to wake the dead and shoe away any critter with untoward designs on his grandchildren the eggs were hidden and Mike, my older brother, and I had the time of our lives plundering without having to worry about getting caught.
In retrospect I honestly cannot remember if we even went fishing that day. I know we did though, because my Momma might out smart a five year old, but she would never lie to one.
Now why do I tell this story?
Well, now that I am beyond being a mere parent and have entered into the grandparent stage of life I can look back at this story from so many years ago and be honest with myself. I can look back at that Easter egg hunt with the realization that my five year old mind had falsely convinced me that I was in control of the situation. All I wanted was to go fishing, but my mother had greater plans for me that Spring afternoon somewhere back in the early sixties.
Upon refelction I know now that had I gotten my way back then and not been bamboozled by my mother, I would never have found the Easter egg resting in that old Ford Fairlane fender and I would not have kept this memory with me all these years. A memory that brings with it just a hint of childhood and the faint aroma of my Mom; an enchanting mixture of Dove soap, Chanel #5 and sweetness.
Expanding upon that thought, I can look back at unnumbered other times when I had convinced myself that I was in charge of my destiny, that my decisions and my wants were paramount only to realize later that a greater intellect with a greater purpose for me was gently prodding me forward toward heights that I could have never imagined.
I remain convinced to this day that our Lord and Savior has a plan, a wonderfully meaningful plan for each and everyone one of His followers. I am convinced that He has beautiful plans for His Church. It is my prayer that we as followers of Christ can learn to release the grasp we so resolutely, and might I say childishly, hold upon our destinies long enough to realize how foolish we are to think we are in control.
I am also convinced that that realization and the resulting freedom it will bring, as we give control over to Christ, promises to open up the storehouse of Heaven so that the blessings of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ can rain down upon His people and take us to heights that we can only imagine!
Love, Pastor Tony