Mark’s Musings – July 17, 2018

by | Jul 17, 2018 | South District Webpage, South District Newsletter

Thirty-five years ago, I moved away from my home-state of Michigan. I left as soon as I graduated from high school, and I haven’t lived there since. When I first moved away for college, my visits back to Michigan usually happened at least once a year. Thirty-five years later, I don’t return very often. When I do, it is usually for a wedding or funeral. Sunday my wife and I returned from a two week visit to Michigan that was just for fun. It was a great time to visit with family and friends that I rarely see!

For the last couple of years my Aunt Charleen and I have been talking about making a road trip to Sterling, Michigan, to show me where my Great-Grandparents (Grandpa and Grandma Hartwick) had their farm. This was where my Grandma Conrad (my Dad’s Mom) was raised. I was hopeful that my daughter, who is emerging as one of our family historians, would be able to come, too. Since my daughter and her husband live in Maryland, that didn’t seem very likely. I was really pleased when everything came together, and my daughter and her husband were able to join us (along with my wife and another aunt) for this excursion.

My family’s former farm was towards the end of a dirt road. Having lived in the country for a long time, I knew right away what was happening when a pick-up truck started driving down the road towards us. Someone wanted to know who we were, and why we were there. It turns out that he is a cousin to the current owner, who was a neighbor to my Great-Grandparents (though she was a child at the time). He told us that she was home, and that we should stop to see her. That is when we got to meet Eleanor. In addition to Eleanor, we met her younger sister Geraldine. They also have a brother, Eustace, who is a retired professor in Tucson that I hope to meet some day.

This day had many highlights. My Great-Grandparent’s house is in ruins, but their barn still stands. We walked down a hard-to-find driveway right to the barn. It is in amazingly good shape! It was easy for me to imagine my Great-Grandpa working in the barn. Next to the barn there is a foundation that use to be the chicken coop. My Aunt Charleen remembers all of this from her childhood and was able to give us details.

Even better than the barn, Eleanor and Geraldine knew my Great-Grandparents. They were able to share several stories with us. I was really interested when I found out that Eleanor is my Dad’s age and use to play with him and his cousin Vance as a kid. My Dad is twelve years older than my Aunt Charleen, so she didn’t experience him as a younger child. Geraldine is a little bit younger than my Aunt Charlene, so she didn’t know him as a kid, either. Eleanor looked sad when we told her that my Dad died back in 2006. She said that when she saw me her first thought was of Daryl (my Dad). It was exciting to hear stories about my Dad when he was a kid from one of his peers!

Back at my sister’s house, I received another surprise when I found out that my Dad kept a journal for about eight years. He started around the time that he retired. I expect that I have been told about the journals, but I had never seen them. Both my daughter and I sat up straight when my sister showed them to us! Immediately we started to read them. Dad started his first journal shortly before I was diagnosed with cancer. It was difficult hearing directly from my Dad how hard he and my Mother took the news. My daughter now has the journals, and periodically sends me a picture of a page. At our next visit to their house, I look forward to having time to read more of the journals. Reading my Dad’s words was a great moment for me!

I wonder at times if we under-value the significance of the Bible because, for all of our lives (at least for all of my life), it has been easily available? I have always had a Bible close at hand that I could read. Now, in addition to all my printed copies of the Bible, I also have the Bible on my electronic devices. In the Bible we get to hear many stories about God and Jesus. Without the Bible, how would we know details?

The teachings in the Bible have been transformative in my life. I will be the first one to admit that I don’t know the Bible as well as I think that I should. It is not always easy to read and understand the Bible. It would be interesting to know if our enthusiasm for the Bible would be different if it was just now discovered and translated. Perhaps this is a good time for us to approach the Bible with new eyes and a re-discovered enthusiasm. We might even want to tell our friends about it!

Your brother on the journey, Mark


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Author: Mark Conrad

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