Have I Told you about My Family?

20 09 2015

Back in young days it wasn’t unusual for me to leave Ohio on a Friday evening, drive all night to reach my birth home in Rock _nsouthern West Virginia the next morning. It was a trip I never wearied making for two reasons; the first to be in the midst of the hills I had loved all my life, and the second and most important was to be with family that lived there and that I loved so much. Perhaps some would say because I grew up with only a mother as immediate family is why these folks were so dear to me. Personally though, I think there was something, something special that set them apart especially the five I lovingly referred to as the “Old Guard.” These were four sisters and a brother, my great aunts and great uncle who took the place of grandparents in my life, and especially my beloved Aunt Pearl who was there me for during my childhood. These dear saints had a way of making you feel cared for by their kind mannerisms and down home Appalachian hospitality that permeated every inch of their existence. I used to love to sit and listen to their stories of growing up back in the early years of the 20th Century, of living on little, but learning how to appreciate everything. Their simple grassroots ideologies on life made an impact on me to a point that I still practice many today.

So when I got the chance, a full tank of gas and few bucks in my pocket, it was “Country Roads take me Home.” Many of my friends couldn’t understand why I’d choose to spend hours driving down to WVa and back over hanging out with them and partying. “Have I ever told you about my family?” I’d ask. “Believe me you’d understand if you ever met them.” So began a time of taking friends with me to see and meet the people I considered more precious than wealth and fame. I loved to see their faces and listen to their expressions of awe from seeing the beauty of the mountains of Southern West Virginia for the first time. I would smile as they enjoyed incredibly tasty meals where most of what would be served was homegrown. But mostly I enjoyed watching my friends as they interacted, listened, and learned from the folks I so often bragged about; they learned I did not overstate a single word about the ones I called my people. At the end of the visit and we returned to our northern home, the conversation would be filled with everything my friends experienced from meeting my family and seeing the place I bragged on so much. One told me “I have never felt so loved outside my family as I did during this trip.” And each would have the same question, “So when can I come back with you again?”

“If instead of a gem, or even a flower, we should cast the gift of love into the hearts of others, that would be giving as the angels give.” George McDonald, paraphrased.

I wanted so much for my friends to experience first hand the people and place I spoke of so often with pride. But more than anything I wanted them to experience the love I cherished and received from the “Old Guard.” Each that came with me did just that, and each today would tell you it was something special.

Someone said “If you had the cure to cancer wouldn’t you share it? … You have the cure to death … get out there and share it.”

On Oct. 7, 1972, I experienced a new love, a different love even more powerful than the one I knew from my family. This love came to me as one that would go on forever, eternally; this love came in the form of a Savior. And this love is so special I just have to share it with others.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

The Old Guard finished their Travels on the “Rock Road” many years ago; they’d all be over 100 years old today. But the love they instilled in me lives on and I know someday I’ll see them again. How do I know this? Because each of them knew the love of a Savior also, I’m betting that’s the basis of why they gave of themselves to others.

So if they were still around I’d probably say, “Have I told you about my family, they are so awesome and you would simply love them!”

Friend, have I told you about my Jesus? He is so awesome and He simply and completely loves you!
See ya next time.




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