Sunday, December 31, 2017

So Long . . .

The house where I grew up has been torn down.  Grandma and Grandpa Wheat are gone, and I hear their house has been remodeled - modernized.  The pear tree I used to climb is missing from the back yard. No more jars of home-canned pear honey on homemade bread. Downtown Jewell has a gap-toothed smile where I remember a thriving business district.  A grocery store, James Clothing, Callie's Dry Goods, Jewell Variety, Belden's Barber Shop, Stapleton's Cafe, the Legion Hall that held poppy day lunches and UNICEF trick-or-treating, Bartsch's TV repair - when TV's weren't considered disposable - the Lumber Yard, two gas stations, and the mystery of IK's pool hall, where I was never allowed to enter. Two churches are boarded up.  Dr. Plowman's officer is abandoned. Many of the beautiful homes I remember have been demolished or are crumbling.  In some cases new homes have replaced the old, but not always.  

The schools are closed. The lights on the football field are dark and grass grows long and thick on the track.  The outfield of the baseball park is now a residential area. There are no ball games, no rehearsing marching bands, or school floats in the parade.  There is no variety store candy case to browse, no window displays of school jackets and Converse high-tops.  Even the playground equipment is gone - likely considered too dangerous by today's standards.  The tornado took the Tastee Freeze and the "South Place" - the family homestead where I had dreams of a log cabin in my golden years.

There are still touches of the familiar.  The car wash is still in business, but there are no lines of teenagers on a spring day. Ice cream is now served in the post office lobby where I bought air-mail stamps for letters to penpals - long before email - and waited anxiously for a reply.  The park is refurbished - better, but still different.  The bank is in the same location - updated, and without the library and meeting rooms below.  The library has a beautiful new home, but with less atmosphere and without the inescapable eye of Mrs. Kelly.

Most of all my parents are changing.  For that matter, so am I.  Aging, declining, forgetting.  Over the past months while I have been spending extended time in Jewell to help care for Dad, I have been mourning all of this loss.  I'm tired of my childhood being torn down.  I want to cling to my memories; resuscitate them; actually squeeze them so hard in my mind that they come back to life.

But God says, "Forget the former things.  Do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing."  Ironically, even as I mourn this passing of time, I'm ready to put 2017 in the past.  I don't care to dwell there any longer.  Welcome, 2018!  I can't wait to see the "new things" God has in store.