GIVE ME LIBERTY!
Since the 2015 holidays, it had been a dry spell. After two years of calls and emails regularly asking if I could give a program to this club or that banquet, things had fallen quiet, like winter snow. It’s to be expected, I told myself, realizing that Sweetland of Liberty Bed & Breakfast has been out for two years already. It’s a matter of shelf life.
Then one January day, the inbox offered an email with this subject line: Program. And sure enough, a Union County Public Library librarian offered up the magic words: Would I be available to speak to the senior REMINISCE program on Feb. 23?
Something new for the calendar! And not just something new but something more: a reason to go home; an opportunity to tailor a talk around some favorite old stories of growing up a farmer’s daughter, of the life and times of being a Union County kid. Just my cup of tea.
Today was the day and once again, going home did that thing to me that it always does. It made me homesick. If it weren’t for two major factors, Brian and I would put the house on the market as soon as we could manage, load up the truck and move to Bev-er-ly ... well, to Lib-er-ty.
The two major factors, however, are major:
1. The kids live in Indy where we can see them often (can you put a price tag on that)? 2. Our church / my life-group-turned-life friends, the Midlife Moms.
I’m also not done with newspaper work quite yet.
But make no mistake: there is that pull of home, and part of me asks myself often: so why is it again that we aren't living there now?
Today in Liberty, I’m met by my friend since school days, Beth McCoy, and her mom, Shirley. Shirley is one of my most enthusiastic supporters. Beth asks that question: when are we moving home?
I set up my dog-and-pony-show table with books and poster, and before I can get it done, despite arriving way early, folks start arriving. This is something I have learned over two years and dozens of programs: get there early. Others will.
Among them there today: a lady who rode not only my dad’s school bus but my grandfather’s; the son and daughter-in-law of my husband’s splendid Liberty landlady, Mary Snyder; two mothers of school chums; businessmen from around town, one of which booked me on the spot for a November banquet; several ladies from my childhood Brownsville United Methodist Church; my brother, Tim; the organist at our wedding; several other dear ones, besides. Home folks.
They listen well to the stories that range from reflective to historical to silly; they ask questions, they laugh in the right places, and then they reminisce informally over the library’s luncheon of homemade shepherd’s pie, fresh fruit, rolls and cherry-chocolate cake.
And over the meal, I talk with a couple. She had been a Brownsville farm girl. He went to school in Dunlapsville and Alquina. His career was an air traffic controller at the Indianapolis International Airport. But they are home now, home in Liberty. And in April, they are taking another trip abroad, this time to Belgium.
So many stories like this: small-town people who have led and still lead interesting lives doing important and “who-knew” type things. Boy do I get mad when someone from somewhere else insinuates that small-town or rural folk are dull. Just who is the uninformed, narrow-minded one there?
One of our deepest yearnings is to know God and be known by Him. We also want, deeply, to know others and be known by them. I feel these things acutely when I’m in my hometown.
The folks there today wanted to hear about the next book. I told them a bit about it, a teaser for the plot, a word or two about a pair of new characters. And I wonder: when is it too soon to say much more than that? In March I’ll start the actual publishing process and this summer, we should have books. And I hope I get to do all this again.
The home folks asked if I’ll be back.
I sure hope so. In fact, I’d love nothing better.