One of the line dances we do in our line dancing exercise class is called “As Country as Can Be.” I think that would be a fitting description for me.
I was raised in the Ozarks, miles from the nearest town, down a dirt road full of potholes. The first time Jim drove to my house, he declared, “This is so far back in the sticks, I bet you have to pipe in sunshine.”
It’s also well known that you can take the girl out of the country, but you’ll never take the country out of the girl. I’ve lived in four different towns in three different states, and the shortfall all of them had was—they were not in the country.
I was much happier in the most modest home in the country than I was when we lived in a condo in town. Still, as a barefoot country kid, I never dreamt that I would come as far as I have in my life or live in the kind of home I have now. I realize this is backwards for kids today who often take a big step down when they go out on their own.
When I walk the dog, I enjoy the quiet, starlit nights and lazy country mornings. This morning during our walk, I saw a squirrel clinging to a dead branch, swinging back and forth. It reminded me of our entertainment when we were kids: swinging on grapevines, sliding on mossy rocks in the creek, swimming in the lake, or walking in the woods. Our home had no phone or air conditioning. I can remember settling down in a cool spot in front of the fan to read library books.
One of the benefits of coming from poverty is that you are grateful for what circumstances and hard work have brought your way. I remember that during the recession, some people were terrified of losing their wealth and being (gasp!) poor. The way I looked at it, I had already been there and it didn’t scare me.
Some people think that poor people are miserable. It couldn’t be further from the truth. Other people think money equates happiness, and that isn’t true either. If I’ve learned one lesson in life, it is that money makes life’s journey smoother, if you don’t allow money to be in the driver’s seat.
Working on Indelible, brings back memories of the financially stressed years that Jim and I had. We always managed to pay our bills, feed our kids, and have a roof over our heads. Jim was able to keep any old $200 car running, so we had transportation. So what if my clothes came from garage sales? We made it through the hard times on our own.
The hard financial times were a veritable walk in the park compared to the years of dementia. Those times were trying, but I was glad that we lived in the country. When Jim wandered off, he was in familiar territory and wasn’t in danger of walking into traffic.
My life has spanned over six decades. I still enjoy starry nights as much now as I did when I was a kid lying on a quilt in my Grandma’s front yard. I still look upon the heavens with wonder and awe.
No matter where the remainder of my life might take me, or where I may live, nothing will ever take the country out of me. I will always be as country as can be.
Copyright © June 2018 by L.S. Fisher