You Can Take a Girl Out of the Country
I haven’t spent a birthday in my hometown in nearly 20 years. Circumstances called me home, and while the reason was an unwelcomed interruption, it was right on time. It was nice returning to my Main Street, USA. Where the town square really is shaped like a square. The courthouse remains one of the most beautiful landmarks around, and the gnats greet you like long lost cousins. Men and women called me Sugar, Honey, Darlin’, Dearheart, and Baby, and I wasn’t offended in the least. There’s something about going home. No matter where life’s pit stops lead – in other countries or a country road, home has a way of reminding you of your stock. Your values or as my dad says, your constitution starts at home. For me, home is long country roads, and trust me I know them all. Home is family farms, pecan groves, watermelon trucks, soybean fields and timber farms. Home is where I can remember why every single dream began, and at the same time, easily get lost in thought over a cricket-serenaded starry night. Home is where you can buy a Carterburger’s chicken breast sandwich with the bone-in, and you love it. Trust me on this.
Home is where everyone knows your name and your dirt, yet they love you anyway. Where the guys hanging around the corner store may look tough, but they’ll drop everything to lend a helping hand. Home is where I’m reminded to never get too big for my britches and to treat everyone the same.
I needed everything home had to offer these past few days, especially on my birthday.
As I sat outside the hospital, in hot pursuit of a decent Wi-Fi signal, a World War II veteran made his way next to me as his summer bride searched for a parking spot. It took her more than a Baptist church minute to park that Buick, but I’m glad. They were there visiting a friend. He had open heart surgery a few years ago and had the zipper to prove it. He said he knew more than five decades ago that his wife was his heart, and now the zipper reminded him to show her more and more each day. How appropriate that my birthday, also known as Flag Day would be greeted with such a lovely sentiment from a veteran still crushing on his girl. My five days home was full of encounters like this. People shared their stories, perfect strangers offered unsolicited advice, and I spent time on my parent’s back porch. My little people were visiting their other grandparents, so this was probably the first time in a decade that I’ve been to my parents’ home without them. The quiet allowed me to experience everything I loved about being a kid through older, wiser eyes. It was nice. I'm grateful that you can take a girl out of the country, but please don't take the country out of this girl.
June 14th was a beautiful day, and even though it was spent at the local hospital, I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be. This is where it started. I was born in this very hospital forty-four years ago when two became three. Today the three of us were there again, only this time there wasn’t a helpless little girl in her parents’ arms. I was there to take care of dad and support my mom. Without any candles, streamers or birthday cake, there was definitely a birthday – or my rebirth day. There is no place like home. And to think, I might never have experienced it without this unexpected trip, courtesy of destiny, a daughter’s love for her dad and my beautiful hometown.