by Sandy Kerlin
I don’t remember the incident on that day but I do remember the day…I was about 13 years old and upset about something that happened at school-teenage behavior full blown-I slammed in from school mad at the world. Mom was home which was unusual since she was working full time. Dad’s business had failed, his health was poor and in her usual way she just went out , got a job and was taking care of what needed to be done. She came into the living room, gave me a hug, took my school books and smiled-I’m sure I frowned and pushed away from her. No questions, just a smile-she was like that—I would always get around to telling her what was wrong and she never asked. She would then start telling me a story, about her growing up, about great uncle somebody-or-other who built his own church, about someone at work who was having a tough time, about what a neighbor was doing-or not doing—sometimes it made sense to me and I related it to what I was dealing with but many times I thought she was just making conversation, just trying to distract me—just being MOM—to calm me down. As I got older, about 16, my problems became MUCH bigger and MUCH more important, I began to see what all the story telling was about-the stories all related to people sticking with it and just doing what needed to be done. The stories were not about famous people, but just about people we knew. Many of the stories were about what I considered to be brave or foolish people who just kept doing what they needed to do even when it didn’t work out so well; the stories related to perseverance. Putting one foot in front of the other and moving ahead-she was telling me, and showing me- DON’T give up. But more than that she used to say, “It is ok to give in, it is ok to be wrong, it is ok to fail if you have done your best-just don’t give up.” She would quietly add something like, “You know what the right thing is-you may not be right-but you know what is right. When you can’t figure out what to do just keep going-you will figure it out; say your prayers; think about what Dad or I would do-you will know.” I didn’t really believe it but guess what, she was right!! And so I learned from Mom and Dad and from my upbringing in church to persevere. No matter how hard, how discouraging, how heart breaking, how unfair, I just try to keep moving ahead until it becomes clear.
Not long ago we were in Ireland where my husband’s family immigrated from in the 1700’s. You may know that some of the roads are not so good and somewhat confusing due to few or no road signs. American impatience results in stopping to ask the old Irishman who has lived there for all his life how to get to the village and after looking up and down the road and at the sky and at the ground and adjusting his hat several times, he will tell you-“Just follow the road” he then will shake his head and walk off. So for me, I will follow the road.