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A Lesson in Love

A Lesson in Love

The gift my father unknowingly gave helps me see past my children's mistakes to their hearts
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Life on a farm in Arkansas in the 1950s offered a wonderful childhood for me, but I knew it was a hard life for my parents. Any new expense meant difficult decisions about how the minimal cash was to be spent, and even though I never felt deprived, I knew that I just didn't ask for things that cost money. It was also understood that when something broke, if Daddy couldn't fix it himself and it wasn't absolutely essential to us, it very likely would stay broken.

I knew that one of our most important possessions was an old red Ford pickup. It was our connection to the rest of the world, as well as the vehicle that my father used to do the dawn-to-dusk work on the farm. I had an older brother and sister and a baby brother, and every Sunday morning we would dress for church, then crowd into the cab of the truck for the trip to town. I was the smallest besides the baby, so I sat next to my dad because I caused the least interference with shifting.

I was a shy, skinny, bookish sort of child, and while I often played with my brothers and my sister, I learned that solitude could be a delightful time when my imagination was totally free. One of my favorite places to take a book and be alone was the seat of the old red pickup. One warm afternoon I was enjoying this favorite spot, reading a little, but mostly daydreaming. My finger was absently tracing the knobs and lines on the dashboard, and finally wound around to the speedometer.

The glass on the speedometer had long since been broken out, maybe even before the pickup joined our family. I often watched the red needle as we drove down the highway. It was fascinating to watch it climb the circle of numbers, sometimes getting as high as the 50 at the top. It never approached the numbers going down the other side to 90. I wasn't sure why, but I knew that this was all somehow an important part of Daddy's truck.

As I traced the circle with my finger, I bumped against the needle and realized that it wasn't moving. I knew this wasn't right, that it was supposed to go up and down on the numbers. It must be stuck. So I nudged it, then nudged a little harder, and was rewarded by a little pop as it came loose from whatever had held it prisoner. And I was delighted to see that it not only moved freely now, but went all the way to the 90 and back! Not only had I fixed it; it was better than it had been before!

I couldn't wait for Daddy to get home so I could show him the wonderful thing I had done. He would be so surprised! But it was hours before he came home, and I had gone on with my seven-year-old life and forgotten all about it. It didn't enter my mind until that Sunday morning.

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June 17, 2013  6:46am

it felt nice reading ur article.....of course reading it realisation dawned......that i should be a better mom every moment.....the effort hs to be made............i agree with Deb54.......wells thats how i was brt up toooooo........most of the time......i never knew why i got the smack...which left red and blue makrs all over me.......years later.........when i myself became a parent......God did intervene..i was healed of hatred towards my own set of parents.....there is no bitterness today against my parents.......i realise they r god's wonderful gift to me.......however dented their life experience seems to be........i am a better mother to my two sons.......(for all his faults........ they have a wonderful father).......i am learning from him too..... Today, the children are open, trusting, sharing, courageous...........and leaders in their own pack of friends...

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Salome Mitchell

June 14, 2013  5:06pm

Enjoy reading your posts on Facebook. Thank you for posting.

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February 19, 2013  12:05pm

I can totally see where you're coming from ~ how lovely that your father chose the better, the best, road to teach his children :) My mother's method of chastisement was a quick backhand across the face. Most often you didn't even know what you did wrong, and if you were curious (or stupid) enough to ask, you got another one and the advice to "figure it out." After you picked yourself off the floor you usually decided not to do THAT again, even though you didn't have any idea what "that" was. Totally demeaning for a child. Although my mother was a poor example, I did have TV, so I knew that not ALL moms were like that, and chose to follow the "Brady Bunch" model of child-rearing instead! :) I love (and enjoy) MY kids ~ what a blessing!!

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