I spent the last couple of weeks scrubbing and sterilizing everything in my house because my son was scheduled to visit with the two grandchildren. The baby is crawling, so I felt like everything had to be sterilized and perfect in every nook and cranny.
I wore myself out before they got here.
They had been here 20 minutes when I had to leave for tutoring. I was gone about two hours, came home and everything was topsy turvy. Between the luggage, baby equipment, and toys, no one could ever believe how much time and effort I put into the preparation for them.
Guess what? They could have cared less. They were just happy as they could be and glad to be at Gran’s house in Harlan. At least I knew it had started out clean.
I am one of those grandmothers who would rather have my grandchildren at my house and put everything breakable or “precious” out of the way and just let them have fun. They don’t come often, so when they do, I certainly want them to feel welcome and go away with good memories.
I want them to remember planting seeds in the garden with great-granddad, splashing in the creek looking for crawdads, and running through wide open spaces. I want them to remember fishing trips and looking for bears, stars, and lightning bugs.
I want them to love the mountains and the people they come from. Maybe the memories won’t last with them forever, but the good feelings they have knowing they are loved certainly will.
I love Harlan. I want them to love Harlan.
My grandson says he is going to Harlan to the “wild” and to the mountains when he comes. I remember growing up in the Illinois flatlands and being so thrilled to be headed to the mountains of Kentucky. I think the Indiana flatlands are about the same.
There is just something special about the mountains and the people of southeastern Kentucky. It seems to me like people are more loving here – or at least express that love to family members and friends more freely than people do in other places I have been.
There is something ancient and strong in these mountains. There is strength in the people and a connection to the land. There is faith in God that is unashamed and simple in the absolute faith that the Bible is real, that it means what it says, and that God is who He says He is. There is a belief in miracles, that God is personal, and that He still cares about individual human beings. I wouldn’t swap that kind of faith heritage for any other. I’ve been with people who intellectualize the gospel to the point that it would seem that the Word and love of God are only for the elite.
I’ll take our childlike, miracle working, mountain faith any day of the week.
I’ve been asked many times where I would like to live if I didn’t live in Harlan. If we could pick Harlan country up and drop it somewhere near the interstate, that’s exactly where I’d like to live. I could live in rolling hills and still be happy, but where would I ever find people as warm and caring as there are in these mountains?
That’s what I want my grandchildren to remember about this place and their visits. My hope is that when they get old enough, they will always want to know, “When are we going back to Gran’s in Harlan?”