FOOD FOR THE SOUL
(My aunt Dorrie, Grams, great-aunt Erna and aunt Lois)
When I sit back and just reminisce about my childhood, most of my fondest memories revolve around my family and extended family. I count myself blessed that I grew up surrounded by men and women who are what some people would call “salt of the earth” people. Wikipedia describes salt of the earth people as “humble and unpretentious people.: The Collins dictionary describes them as “a person or group of people regarded as the finest of their kind.” They are hard working, uncomplicated, decent, dependable, and add value to those around them. Wow, how can anyone lose when these people are in your lives as your ego and psyche are being formed? I grew up in a small town of 1,000 people and most of my extended family lived somewhere on Hickory Street…with some a few blocks away “on the east side” of town. I find this so funny now that I’ve grown up that we referred to it as the “east side of town” because our town was only about 10 blocks wide in any direction you looked. Family was very important, and a holiday and vacation never passed without a get together. As a child, you not only had a mom and dad, you had aunts and uncles who would step in and fill those shoes, especially if we were getting in trouble. They all took responsibility for each other, and there was nothing that they wouldn’t do for each other.
(My uncle Shelly, Cousin Mosey and some of us “younger kids” banned to the front room)
Looking back, each and every one of my extended family members worked hard for the possessions they owned. Many times they would share the cost of bigger ticket items, especially if is was something that everyone was going to be able to use. They lived within their means, and I really think they appreciated the things they had. The men and women of the family loved to fish, and it made economical sense to purchase an outboard motor to use on our annual family vacations every year. So they all pitched in and bought that beloved boat motor. I can vividly remember it all oiled up and wrapped in an old blanket ready to be hauled to Wisconsin for everyone to use every year. The men would get up at the butt-crack of dawn to fish, and then the ladies would go out in the afternoon or early evening. As kids we usually didn’t go out in the boat unless it was for a quick “ride around the lake” to look at houses that we knew we would never own. We would sit on our assigned bench in the fishing boat, snuggly strapped into our moldy smelling orange life jackets, trying to dodge the spray coming up from the boat as it went faster and faster. You were usually soaked by the time you got back, but it didn’t matter, because you had no other worries in the world at that age.
(Aunt Doris, uncle Shelly, Grams, my mom, aunt Lois and great-aunt Erna)
Then there was the tiller that the “men” combined their money to buy. Everyone had a garden somewhere, and a tiller just made the job so much easier. So instead of one person buying one to use, they decided it would be easier to buy it together, and each spring everyone got to use it to start their garden. If I close my eyes I can see it as clear as a bell, big, noisy, and brown and white. It truly took a strong man to use it, as it was a beast. But that’s what these salt of the earth people did. They shared, they loved, they respected each other, and they passed down that respect and strong sense of family values to their children. My mom and dad have passed away, my grandparents are gone, my great aunts and uncles are no longer here, but rest assured they, and my Aunts and Uncles who remain, have left behind a legacy of what it meant to be a “salt of the earth” person. I cherish the memories that these people gave to me, even though at the time they were just going thorough the motions of every day life. Did they know that the actions they displayed would affect so many of the next generation? They set the bar high for those following them, but out of honor and respect I will try to be true to my roots. I will always treasure the things I have, I will try not to covet the things that others have, I will work hard for what I need in life, I will love those people who are close to me in my life, I will not hesitate to help someone in need, I will love God and my country, and I will always try to remember that family comes first. For there would be no greater honor than to be remembered as a “salt of the earth” human being ♥