Usually I say good Monday morning, but Monday morning we were deep in the hills of Kentucky far from modem or computer. For the Labor Day weekend we drove to the little mountain village where my wife was born to attend her annual family reunion. It is a beautiful area near Natural Bridge State Park about an hour southeast of Lexington.
When I met Lois she had a beautiful southern accent. I frequently had to have her repeat herself so that I could understand her. Sadly, over the years that has completely ebbed away. But when I take her back home about the time she crosses the Ohio River and gets with her people hints of her girlhood accent start to work their way back into her speech. That stirs up tender memories of the beautiful dark eyed girl that so captured my heart in the autumn of 1979.
Lois’s mom’s mom is still living. They call her “Mamaw Banks” and she lives on a hill a short walk from where her other grandma, “Mamaw Hatton” used to live. She has been gone for years now. We stayed in the old home place which sits empty. Her aunt keeps the place up and graciously stocked the fridge for us including a generous supply of a soft drink only available in that part of Kentucky called “Ale 8 One”. The kids love it. It is sold in small green glass bottles and it is a tradition with our family now as it was with Lois and her brother and sisters whenever they returned to visit after they moved to Michigan.
In the mornings I rose early as usual and spent a couple hours at a local restaurant drinking coffee and writing on a legal pad. The anti-tobacco movement has not reached that part of Kentucky yet for obvious reasons and there was no non-smoking section in the restaurant. In fact the deacons of the local Baptist Church smoke on the steps of the church between Sunday School and the Morning Service. At the festival we saw a few children as young as seven or eight smoking in the company of their parents.
On Saturday we visited with family and in the afternoon we were asked to visit some shut-ins to sing for them. People in that part of Kentucky would not think of building a home without a porch even if they didn’t have indoor plumbing. (Which most of them currently do have). So we sang hymns and some gospel songs and visited with kind simple mountain people on their shady porches.
On Sunday we visited the Baptist church where Lois attended as a little girl. We were asked to sing for the service. In the afternoon the Pierpont Family sang for the local Silver Mine Festival. Kyle and Holly gave their testimonies and we were able to give a witness for Christ there. They must have liked us we were immediately invited back next year.
It was a happy thing for the family to have an opportunity to give such a public witness for Christ. The children’s grandfather Ralph was known by all but he was in the grip of drink almost all of his life. The alcohol destroyed his life and ended it early. From pictures it is uncanny how much our oldest son Kyle looks like his grandpa Ralph did at the same age.
There was a pleasant irony in hearing Kyle sing and stand and deliver such a strong testimony of love for Christ right there in the streets where his grandfather grew up. There were fourteen of Ralph’s grandchildren there in the village that day. Each one is being raised in a strong Christian home. Satan has his victims but over all and in the end Christ is always the victor.
Labor Day Weekend 2002