Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Daddy was mellow and easy going. As the father of four daughters, I suppose he had to be. He was quiet but also had a good sense of humor. Sharon and I could easily get him to laugh. He had always been protective of Mama as well as his daughters; and perhaps that was the reason she had never learned to drive. She had never considered the fact she couldn't drive a problem, until Daddy began riding to work with a fellow employee...leaving the car at home.
Having a perfectly good automobile left sitting in the driveway and plenty of places she wanted to go was a different story...a motivating factor I would say. There were the fabric stores she loved, grocery shopping and a local shopping center with nice department stores. I was in college and not there during the day to drive for her, so Mama decided she would learn to drive. When Mama made up her mind to do something, there was no stopping her. The police academy offered driving lessons for adults and she enrolled. Mama didn't do anything halfway and became their star pupil.
She loved her newfound freedom in our 1957 Chevrolet, and now insisted on doing the driving herself...even when I was with her! I understood the feeling of those new wings and it would have been fine with me...if only she had driven faster than 25 miles per hour. With her genteel Southern upbringing, she could not understand why people were passing her or giving her unkind looks when she pulled out in front of them at a snail's pace. I believe, eventually, she did pick up her speed and gained her confidence behind the wheel.
I am my Mother's daughter in a lot of ways (no, not the driving - I drive much too fast). When it comes to a paintbrush, needle or thread, I find joy. It's almost as if I don't have a choice...I simply must be in the midst of creating something. As of yet, my quilting projects have been small ones, but I enjoy the process. I love to sew and made many of my daughter's clothes...and even a few for my sons...when they were growing up. I love to cook, especially Southern style. Most importantly, I have found my greatest joy in my role as a mother...and now as a grandmother.
Looking back after all these years, I think that it took great courage for Mama to conquer her fear and learn to drive at the age of sixty. I hope if I were faced with a similar challenge, that I might just have a little of her courage...
(Just for fun, check out the You-Tube black & white TV commercial on the 1957 Chevrolet link above!)
Memphis State was much larger than the small Baptist college in Mississippi. My friends from church and I sought refuge and friendship at the Baptist Student Union. The BSU met in a craftsman style house which was situated practically right on campus. The house had historical character with its large rooms, built-in bookcases, wood floors and large paned windows that let in lots of light. There was a big front porch with a swing and enormous shade trees on the grounds. In the large front room, there was a fireplace, a baby grand piano, comfortable sofas, chairs and tables. It was a welcoming place.
This was our retreat between classes or any other opportunity we had. We'd gather there for "Noon-Day" services each day, where there would be a brief devotional and music. Afterwards, a group of us would sit around the long oak table and eat the lunches we'd brought from home. Occasionally, we would meet at the cafeteria on campus, but to tell the truth, I preferred the fellowship at the BSU. I was beginning to cherish the friendships I was finding there...with all the laughter and sharing. The BSU would also be where I would later meet the love of my life and the father of my three children...
I was dating a young man named Mike who was frequently reminded that he looked just like a young Sean Connery, and he did. It seemed I always ended up dating ministerial students for Mike was headed to a Baptist seminary after graduation. Most of the time though, there were groups of us who would get together to go skating, bowling or to the movies. One memorable Autumn Saturday night, there was a fun hayride and bonfire at a nearby farm. One long weekend, I went with a large group from the BSU to an international students retreat at Lake Barkley, Kentucky, where I met students from all over the world.
I had decided to major in English with a minor in secondary education. Among my other classes, I was taking a couple of advanced literature classes and history which I basically hated for all the essay questions. Nothing was easy. Honestly, I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do for my future. I thought I wanted to teach high school English and Spanish, and I proceeded in that direction. Little did I know then, that while I would spend time teaching in the classroom, that wasn't what I would eventually end up doing...
Looking back, I wish I had know then what I know now...don't we all?