I went to church again today. Not the open-every-Sunday type of church but one of those old 1830 churches that was built here in my own town and opened once per year. Like us the people that built this were simple people, farmers mostly who scratched out a living in the land of cold and snow.
Again, looking at wide planked floors, chandeliers that were made for candles and window panes so ripply that you just knew they were the original panes. The bathroom was an outhouse and rock walls surrounded the church caked with moss and age. It was built in simpler times no doubt.
During the meeting they asked for hands of whom this trip to Old Home Sunday was their first. And a few hands went up. Then it began, who had been here 15 years in a row. Who had been here 25 years in a row. Who had been here 50 years in a row. And the number kept getting higher until only one hand remained. 71 Consecutive years. The man had grown up on a farm ¼ mile down the road and was raised with morals.
After church was over I talked with a true friend. As he swooned over Alyson, played with her and kept making her laugh and talking about her favorite animals (cows), I could not help but see a huge change in him. He spoke about being unable to mow his lawn because his grand daughters were picking flowers that morning.
Now this is a shock because Steven is a workaholic. Or at least was. A farmer and gravel contractor, he was working on a gravel road one day a few years ago when a 10 year old kid tried to go around his gravel truck. The kid had to ride up the embankment,and in doing so rolled his ATV and landed in front of the truck tires. The 10 year old was instantly killed. It was a tragic event.
Today Steven is a changed man. He stops and talks, he visits now and then, and he even stops mowing the lawn so kids can pick flowers. Its not retirement though, its an appreciation for life.
Tomorrow is Labor Day, a day to celebrate the hard work of the American Workforce. A hard days work is something to be proud of, but let's remember to hug our kids, kiss our wife and take a day off now and then to realize there is a time to stop and smell the flowers...or tease the children, or watch the dog fetch a stick. It should never take a death of a child to learn that lesson.
As for the man who had went to that church dutifully for 71 years...and my friend who learned a hard lesson late in life...they were one in the same.