Our farm was situated between the small villages of Laurel Hill and Wagram. I claim Laurel Hill as my hometown, because that’s where we went to school and received our mail. My childhood spanned the turbulent decade of the 1960s—a time of great transition—race riots, political unrest and the killing of thousands of young Americans in Vietnam. We weren’t isolated from what was going on in the rest of the world. Every night after supper, we all watched the evening news. It was the one television show that was required viewing in our household. The thing I remember most about those newscasts were the nightly death and injured tolls from the Vietnam conflict. CBS news posted them in the top righthand corner of the screen. Those numbers meant very little to someone who was only concerned with what outfit Barbie would wear that day or which planet Captain Kirk would visit on Star Trek. More about that later.
Despite the turmoil going on in the world, those years were some of the best of times for our little family. You might call it the calm before the storm. Daddy’s business was thriving, and my parents had built a new home. We were all happy, healthy and blissfully unaware of the brain tumor that was slowly growing inside my mother. All too soon, the housing market would collapse and so would Daddy’s business. There in our little haven, we didn’t know about the economic crisis that loomed ahead that would cause us to lose the family farm following our grandmother’s death in 1980. Throughout my life, with all of the zigzag curves it has taken, I have found most of my strength and resiliency in the memories that were made on that small farm in the Sandhills.
Not long after Daddy passed away in 2005, I dreamed that I was walking up to the front door of Grandma’s house. From the porch I could see that all the lights were on in the house, and I could hear many different voices. I rang the doorbell, and Grandma opened the door, looking as regal and pretty as she always did.
“Well, look who’s here,” she said. She turned aside, and I saw Mama and Daddy standing behind her. They appeared to be as young as I remembered them from my childhood. A lot of other people were there, too—some I knew and some I didn’t. I wanted to stay there with them but somehow I knew that I couldn’t. When I awoke from the dream, I realized that they are always there—still alive in that special time and place that I remember so well.