9 12 2018

When I was a child some of my best friends were folks old enough to be my Florencegrandparents. I loved being around them, visiting their homes, eating the special treats they kept just for youngsters, but mostly I loved to listen to the stories they would tell from their young days. One of the special surrogate grandmas was a dear lady who lived next door to us back in Fremont–Florence. She worked for years at the county courthouse and was up on all the politics, local, state and national. She told me stories of politicians and dignitaries she had met on trips to Washington D.C. and visiting the White House and many other famous buildings. There was a picture of her and Harry Truman she kept on an end table she was very proud of. She’d talk about going to New York City and seeing places I dreamed of like the Empire State building and the Statue of Liberty. She me gave old items like a violin she played in her youth and a saxophone her husband would perform with. Without a doubt my prize possession still today is a solid oak tool box that I display in our front room I’m sure dates back nearly one hundred years.  The memory of Florene or Flossy as many called her still brings me joy. I suppose that’s because she always seemed to enjoy the visit of this one time obnoxious and inquisitive youngster.

As the years rolled past, Florence decided to move to the county nursing home. She had health issues and with no family to speak of and there she would get the care needed. Even though I had moved into my wild teen years, I still took time to visit dear Flossy and she was always so happy to see me. Over time she became blind, but the moment I would take her hand in mine she would feel all my fingers and then with a smile proclaim, “Johnny!” When I started dating Cathy, I told her there was someone I wanted her to meet. They immediately loved each other and Florence became our official grandmother. She filled that roll at our wedding and was just as proud to be a part as our parents. Shortly after marrying we moved to Indiana, but when we returned to the old hometown a trip to see this dear soul was on the agenda, and every time she was so happy for the visit. The time came when the visits were sadder. She could hardly communicate and would sit in her recliner, head hanging down. I would ask her if she knew who I was and she’d reply no. But the moment I took her by the hand she would feel all around my fingers like she done in the past and there would be a visible, brighter appearance in her demeanor; she knew Johnny was there to see her.

In Deuteronomy 32:7 we read the words “Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you.

When I think of Florence and so many of the elderly of my youthful days I think of this verse. I’ve had my share of advanced education, but nothing compares to what I learned about life as that I obtained from the ones I affectionally refer to as the “Old Guard.” I feel the greatest tribute I could give these pioneer “Travelers of the Rock Road,” was to try to emulate what they were telling me, teaching me. My goodness, I don’t know how many times I’ve heard the words, “I wish I would have visited and listened to my grandparents more.” No, friends and family, these just aren’t stories they’re passing on, it’s life.

Florence went Home to her Lord many years ago, but I can still hear her soft voice ringing in my ears painting pictures in my mind, and planting truth in my heart.

I heard this quote recently “When the elderly die, a library is lost and volumes of wisdom and knowledge is gone forever.” Young people, don’t let that walking, talking library on life be gone without learning as much as you can. Remember, they have a treasure of knowledge they want to share with you. And the ones of you, like me, that are reaching those golden years; don’t be afraid to share your wealth of experience and wisdom with the ones you love. It will be the greatest inheritance you’ll leave them.

See ya next time.




One response

11 12 2018
Beverly Crane

What a beautiful story of life lived. My Dad was full of stories of his childhood. I so wish I would have taken notes. My husband’s grandmother was from England. She was a maid to the royalty. Now that lady had some stories to tell!! Thank you for sharing your memories John.

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