My mom, Charlotte Taylor, recently attended a York University retreat and was challenged to write and she did, writing a story called, Country Driving.
Mom instilled in her children a love of story. She read to us, her captive but nevertheless attentive audience, as we drove to California or Florida or Mt. Rushmore. She read from Reader’s Digest, Life in these United States or Drama in Real Life or just as likely, a chapter from the Bible.
My wife was getting a massage recently by a friend who knows me and she said, “Brent is the woman, you are the man.” As my wife repeated this story to me, I took absolutely no offense. I’m in touch with my softer, feminine side, yet I still like the idea of driving a bulldozer. Both of these sides came from Mom which you’ll realize after reading her story called Country Driving.
I embrace my softer side (I use that term to describe beauty, not a lack of toughness) because I’ve learned at the feet of many beautiful but tough women who could drive a harvester by day and cook a meal for 8 by evening. My great-grandmother was the first one that I remember talking when I prayed aloud at the dinner table…”yes, Lord”…Grandma Beck would say, right out loud in the fat middle, not the end, of my prayer. Grandma Mildred spoke to me whenever she was awake, about vitamins and good food and gardening and hard work and modest shorts. And my mom has always been the fiber in my moral compass along with my wife who grows lovelier and more Godly every day, and my two daughters who teach me about beauty and creativity and joy and tenacity.
I am part of the harvest of prayer and diligent work that my mom provided. I realize I’m changing, like a seed coming out of the earth, little by little…becoming what God intended for me to be from the very beginning, and all the things I once longed for as a 21-year-old who had no idea what he didn’t know, those things seem trivial now. I’m getting closer to the wonder of seeing the One who dreamed me up in a funky quirky ironic moment, if moments indeed happen in the place beyond time.
George Steiner writes about how depriving our children of words can kill them: “To starve a child of the spell of the story, of the canter of the poem, oral or written, is a kind of living burial—a comic book is better than nothing so long as there is in it the multiplying life of language–if the child is left empty of texts, in the fullest sense of that term, she will suffer an early death of the heart and of the imagination.”
Mom is 81. And she is still a creative force. She is the primary reason I love to read and write and create. And when I see her reach back and plow up the field of her childhood into words and emotions, I can’t help but see what is still growing 70 years later. Families, rose bushes, lovers, gardens, creators, artists, the analytical, and the poetic.
Thanks for sharing this story from your youth. I love you Mom!
Living in the Panhandle of Oklahoma, I was aware of the wide open spaces that surrounded me. Our farm was two miles from the closest neighbors. So there were no obstructions to get in the way when I learned to drive – maybe an occasional cow. But I didn’t drive in their pasture very often.
Dad had five daughters before he got a son, so as his second daughter I was chosen to be his right hand girl. I was taller and “sturdier” than the other girls so I’m sure that was part of the selection process. And I’m sure he knew I would always know just what to do. “Charlotte, get me the lug wrench from the garage”. And when you bring back the wrong one, you learn to be more discerning the next time.
I don’t have distinct memories of learning to drive or how old I was, but there were plenty of vehicles to learn on. The pickup truck, the old Chevy truck with granny gear, the Case tractor and the International tractor were all mastered by the time I was 12 or 13. I was a little older when I drove the back roads to the elevator in Boise City with a load of wheat. Of course, Dad was ahead of me with a load in the old truck.
There were lessons learned as I drove the tractor pulling the combine as we harvested the wheat crop. Dad gave me hand signals because there was no way of hearing his voice above the roar of the tractor. When the wheat was thick, Dad’s signal was “Slow down, Charlotte!”. So I learned from Dad’s signals.
There are times in life when things feel “thick” and I need to slow down. And other times when it’s easier going and I can speed up. The memories of Dad and his quiet, gentle ways linger with me today. Because of his gentleness with me as I learned to drive and help around the farm, I can in turn show that patience with my family and others in my life.
Another lesson learned was the endurance of my parents. As I drove the Case tractor around and around the field plowing up last season’s wheat stubble, it was hard not to be bored by the monotony. But now I feel amazed at their ability to start over again after being hailed out or no rain or winds blowing it all away.
To remember their courage and willingness to start anew each day is a blessing I will always remember. And Dad would say, “Charlotte, get up and be thankful for each new day that the Lord gives you”. Thanks, Dad!