Tag Archives: Grandparent

approaching one year

 

This time last year, I noticed an acute struggle to remain honest about all the ugliness of all that was going on while fighting to remain, above all, most hopeful; I decided that writing would help hold me accountable.

The lens of passing time has no doubt created opportunities to be most hopeful, and trying to hold myself to processing difficulties through that very lens, almost one year later, has no doubt proven redemptive.

Next Wednesday will mark one year of http://www.mosthopeful.com, so over the next few days, I am going to celebrate a year of writing by posting the most read blog posts, as well as some of my favorite guest posts. It’s humbling experience to see what resonates that most…

Thanks for the accountability that community forces in trying to tell the truth about a world that goes not well, and the promise of a kingdom come. “We cannot walk alone…”

djordan
Pine Tree

Approaching one year: From the Archives

View original post from September 3, 2011

 

if you need anything, just call

 

Circa 1987

Birdie and Donald, circa 1987

Birdie came to our home every single Wednesday for as long as I can remember. She worked for my parents, my grandparents, my great-grandmother, my great aunt and uncle, and my great-great aunts in whose home I live today on Pine Tree.

Two days after finally seeing the movie The Help, I stopped by my grandmother’s house. Pulling a coke zero out of her fridge, I noticed this picture pinned to the side with a magnet. There is another picture of Birdie and my cousin Katie that has been on the front of the fridge for as long as I can remember, but I have never, ever, seen this picture before. I showed it to my grandmother who began to cry, me soon to follow.

My memories of Birdie include her delicious buttermilk biscuits which I was never allowed to request that she make unless I got mom’s permission first. (I assume that these instructions were due to my waiting for mom to be somewhere else in the house, and then my asking Birdie to make things for me that I didn’t need because I knew Birdie would hook me up.) Along the same lines, I also remember the days that I wouldn’t clean my room because I knew Birdie was coming. Mom would ask Birdie not to clean my room on those days, because it was not her job to pick up my mess. Birdie would agree, and then after washing my sheets, she would stack all my clutter from bedroom to closet in neat piles on the bed that had corresponding locations on the shelves or in the drawers. Afterward, she would wink and tell me that she couldn’t clean up my room because it wasn’t her job to pick up my mess. I would put away the stacks quickly, and we both made it below the radar.

She spoiled me for sure despite my parents’ best efforts otherwise.

What I remember the most, however, is the conversation we would have every Wednesday afternoon when dropping Birdie off for the day. I would be riding in the back of our old Toyota van, and as Birdie got out of the passenger seat, I would slide the huge back door open and call out, “Birdie! If you ever need anything just call!”

Every week, the same process. The same line.

I had no idea how much Birdie needed, and how much I had in comparison. I also didn’t know how much she had that I needed like my life depended on it. I remember riding with my parents out to Birdie’s house one night so Dad could fix her water heater, and I was struck with the old, country house. Its dark walls and hanging, exposed lightbulbs. All perfectly kept and cared for. Birdie did not live like I lived, but she never called to say she needed anything from me. Birdie became magical that evening.

I think about how often even still in my own life, I call out strikingly ignorant offers to help others from my buckled up seat in the back of the van. Birdie’s legacy lives on in our family as humble, gentle, strong and faithful. She gave all she had to her church and to her family. Even still, I sit writing this in a home she has worked to make a home more than I have in my seven years here.

Mom told me one day as Birdie was walking off and I pulled the heavy sliding door closed, “Birdie will be your boss in heaven, Donald. Don’t forget that.” That day, I did not understand that comment at all.

As mom and dad and I walked out of the movie this past week, it was that phrase that immediately came to mind.

I’m only beginning to understand.

djordan
Pine Tree

 

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the magic of a place | Pine Tree

I’ve just returned from a four-hour party that is still making its way into the evening. It was a welcoming party for a new neighbor on my street, Pine Tree Dr.

I live in the home of my great, great aunts. They were the sisters of my great-grandfather whom I never met. They were born in the first decade of the twentieth century, and lived as graduates of Vanderbilt, single women who taught students from high school to University in the town I now live and teach in.  I live in their home much changed since they were here; there is new paint, a new floor plan, newly-purposed rooms, but still their home nonetheless.

As I walked home tonight from my neighbors’ house around the corner, the magic of this place struck me again. I remember several years ago when I thought I was moving; I would turn out the lights in this Pine Tree house room by room, struck with a certain kind of grief and loss at every flick. It’s the building, yes, but not completely.

I love the home, no doubt. I love the old wooden, creaking floors and chandeliers. I love the plaster walls and sturdy fireplaces. I love the interesting nooks and odd architecture.

But what I love more is what tonight made perfectly clear. I sat around a swimming pool with friends and neighbors I went to middle school with, and friends and neighbors that my grandparents went to middle school with. I’m proud to say that I’m Donald Laycook’s grandson, the Etheridge’s great, great-nephew. I like that my neighbors know parts of my own history better than I myself do.

There’s an interesting honor and value in knowing that as our motley crew sat around the swimming pool eating and laughing this evening––the party lingers on with my neighbors who are older than I even now as I write this––is joined together less by job, income, or history, and more by a shared value of a place. we sit in places that those who came before us sat and enjoyed evenings by candlelight. A value of this particular Pine Tree Drive that is home to childhoods, early adulthood, retirement, loss, grief, joy, childbirth, dating, graduation, and the future of God knows what.

So I walked back home this evening grateful that I know my neighbors’ names, grateful that my neighbors can tell me about my grandparents, grateful that we recognize each other in coffee shops and business meetings, and grateful that we share a legacy as old as my lost grandfather and as young as my middle school classmates.

There’s a magic to this place, a place that is clearly home. A street that is clearly home.

djordan
Pine Tree

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