Saturday, January 16, 2016

My Dearest Kentucky

Caleb has been writing in the paper for a couple of months now. At first he would sit down with me and ask me to critique what he wrote, or type it out and text it to me. Sometimes we'd have to brainstorm ideas for a column together, because he wasn't sure what he wanted to write about. I'd also doublecheck to see if he had sent it into the paper.
So last week we were sitting at Variety Pizza and our conversation went like this.
Me: "Caleb, did you send in Novice Notions."
Caleb: "Yep."
Me: "What did you write about?"
Caleb: "A letter to Kentucky."
Me: "What in the world did you write to Kentucky?"
Caleb: "You'll just have to buy the paper and read it to find out.
So, on Thursday morning, I did just that... and proceeded to sit in my car wiping tears from my eyes as I read these words.

As I read those words, I thought about heritage and how we are all a product of so many things. A lot of those things I could relate to...

Being forced to wake up and go to church almost every Sunday of my life.
Mamaw's handpies and Papaw Paul calling me "kadiddle hopper".

Because Caleb is a little extension of me, and what we learn, we pass on to others.

So as I thought about what he loved about Kentucky, I couldn't help but think of myself.

Kentucky, I love you because of hot summertimes where the creek was dry and I could go crawl on a sun-warmed rock in the creekbed and read about other times and places and people. (And didn't think about the snakes that were probably lurking nearby. This makes me shudder to think about now.)

I love you because of treks up Natural Bridge where I would stand close to the edge and worry about tottering off, looking down into that vast green canopy of trees and thinking about Daniel Boone crossing into new territory (because as a kid I didn't really realize that Natural Bridge wasn't where Daniel Boone crossed over).

I love you because of chilly creek waters and mudpies in the summertime.

I love you because of the Mountain Parkway, that first glimpse of the mountains in the distance as you go through Powell County, letting me know that I'm heading home.

I love you because of friendly faces on small town streets.

I love you because of the bouncing of basketballs on hard wood floors, an almost religion across this state.

I love you because you have taught me hope: hope that even though we let the greatest football coach of all times leave, and have struggled since, especially through Joker... and continued to struggle under Stoops (who I like), I cling to hope that our football team will get turned around.

I love you because of white fences and rolling hills of bluegrass and beautiful horses grazing.

Mostly, I love you because you are home. The place I choose to live. I could go anywhere in the world. Every place in America needs nurses, and with Wallace's vast resume I'm pretty sure he could find a job in something (because how many teachers/coaches/military/healthcare administrators do you know?)

But I didn't leave because I love you. Even in our struggles. Even in our poverty. Even though sometimes we are apathetic to our situation. Even though we are often unwilling to change (and I am just as guilty).

Just as Caleb said that you sometimes make him feel closed in, you make me feel protected. Secure. When I see those mountains, I know where I came from, and knowing where we came from can help us know where we need to go.

So thank you. Thank you for teaching me to be open to new people even though I see the same people on the street everyday. Different is sometimes good. Thank you for teaching me that in order to be successful, I had to work... and marry somebody that works a little harder. Thank you for teaching me that family is everything and that all we have is each other. Thank you for teaching me about love in action... I've seen it in every disaster this part of the state has faced.. in tornados or floods, we bind together and support one another. Thank you for being in the Bible Belt so that I learned that God is in the details. If you've ever seen a Kentucky sunrise in the fog of these mountains you know there's a great Creator. Thank you for my heritage.

There's no place like home.

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