My mother was forty-two when I was born. She told me many stories of a time and a place that no longer existed. I loved hearing about horse-drawn wagon rides into town, nickel ice cream cones, and box supper auctions.
Mother lived through the Great Depression. Those who lived in rural areas at that time learned a “particular set of skills;” how to make a meal out of milk, eggs and a little bit of flour, how to stretch a dime (that’s right, a dime; dollars were scarce, and so were dimes, for that matter), and how to reuse everything!
People examined every item, that would normally have been thrown away, to evaluate a new purpose for it. Feed sacks made fashionable dresses, any type of paper could be used again for wrapping gifts, and if they weren’t sure what to use an item for, they placed it in a box or drawer. Then, when a purpose presented itself, they would have it.
Many household staples had to be rationed, like sugar and coffee. Farmers woke up before dawn, milked, plowed, planted, harvested, canned, and shared; working until the end of the day before resting weary bodies on straw mattresses or pallets made on floors. People strained every bit of time out of the day in order to provide sustenance and were true survivors!
If you’ve read my first book, Pathways of the Heart, then you’ve had a glimpse into the life of one such family, mine; that is, my mother, Clella, and her first six children before I was born. Through the years, one thing remains true–walking down the aisle and saying “I do” is the easy part. Then, life happens and things become harder.
Not only did Clella struggle for survival, but she dealt with the same things people have dealt with since the Biblical age – a husband who drank, gambled, and was unfaithful. As hard as she tried, like many marriages today, hers found itself shipwrecked on the rock of neglect. The storm’s waves swept her up and into the arms of another.
Some would consider her times “old fashioned.” If “old fashioned” means innovative, caring, hard-working, God-fearing, and patriotic—then yes, that period was “old fashioned.” But, with time, even definitions evolve.
Whenever I talk to my grandchildren today, I realize that I have many stories to tell of a time and a place that no longer exists. It’s different from Mother’s, but gone never-the-less. Only a vapor remains of the Santa Fe, Burlington Northern, and Union Pacific railroads, that clickety-clack of steel wheels on rails, a mode of transportation I enjoyed frequently. Even the days of sleek ’57 Chevy’s, Elvis’s Teddy Bear, the Beatles, and Motown aren’t appreciated by today’s youth. From Saddle Oxford’s and poodle skirts to go-go boots and the flower child, my era has faded even out of the background.
It’s important for us to share these, for only we can make our history come to life. I challenge you to record your tales, for our pasts should not go away quietly into the night. In Pathways of the Heart, I told Mother’s stories so they wouldn’t be lost, to preserve a life whose example can inspire and teach us to rise above our trials and choices.
In All That Matters, not only my mother’s story comes to life, but mine as well, and depicts how a loving God protected and guided us through some of our most difficult trials. From the simpler days of one room schoolhouses to beyond the fretful days of Y2K, both books provide a looking-glass back into the twentieth century and reveal, when all is said and done, the only thing that matters is eternity.
“I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea.” Isaiah 48:17-18 NIV