THEY WERE OUR NEW NEIGHBORS, out tending their garden, when we stopped to introduce ourselves and ask about the ‘neighborhood’. They appeared at least ten years older than us and they were. The garden surely started out straight-rowed and had evolved into a crowd of plants and weeds. They were dressed in what can only be described as ‘raggedy’ clothes and shoes, hard-used, but still sturdy enough for their needs. They were pleasant enough, but busy, and we didn’t stop long. As we drove past their place, we could see patches of gardens anywhere there was a plot of ground. Their house was centered [hard to determine its age] amid outbuildings, equipment and tall bamboo, with the sound of running water reaching us as we drove by.
We were to enjoy the friendship of these neighbors all the time we lived ‘just down the road’. They had two sons, two daughters-in-law, six grandchildren and they were landowners, landlords and much more than we had judged by first impressions. And, they were old school.
We gardened, we chickened, and we shared. They GARDENED, advised and shared. It was a mutual arrangement.
Why would I write about them in LOVESTORIESANDLIFE? Mostly because of his delight in telling about marrying his bride some 60 plus years before. Mostly because he was not so retiring as you would first guess and he loved to visit; about machinery, about gardening, about local political leanings, about his projects, about his youth. I suppose we all reach that point, when we spend a lot of energy or just plain delight in recalling our younger days. Not that they were spectacular or even happy, but they allow us to choose the good or interesting parts and share them again before they lapse into the dimmest recesses where recall is lost.
He had been a self-employed man most of his life and had worked with heavy machinery, road graders, that sort of thing. He had worked with men who thought they were big shots and I can imagine their surprise to find he wasn’t the backwoods boy or man they thought they were dealing with. He earned the respect of many and he and his wife were well known and appreciated.
They were old school family too. Their oldest son worked the same as he was brought up; same machinery, same work ethic, same long hours and his two boys were coming up the same. It was a delight to meet kids with manners and respect for their grandparents and parents.
Robert’s family ethics and love were never more apparent than when the oldest grandson graduated high school with plans to attend diesel mechanics school in Ohio. This is a boy who had never been away from home without family and family made the commitment that this boy would not graduate under a load of debt. Everyone was required and glad to participate in the expense of schooling and room n board to see him through. Not only that, but the boy himself understood their sacrifice and did his part as well. He schooled full time and worked at a truck dealership 30 to 40 hours a week. He was an asset the dealership was proud of as well.
It is a love story. all its own, to know they raised a boy after their own hearts; his work ethic matching that of his parents and grandparents. The boy actually knowing in his heart how they loved and supported him and he was selflessly willing and glad to acknowledge their part in his life. Makes my heart swell just writing about their family dynamics. Would that we all aspire to their example?
Robert liked to tell of his wedding day. Wish I had asked more questions about finding his bride and how he asked her to be his wife, but the days are gone and he remembers the important stuff….like being married on a North Georgia Winter day in January and it being such an important day, he took his soap and towel in the early morning down to the river to bathe…..for his young bride and all the life they had before them.