Growing up, there were lots of good, honest, hard-working folks in my family. My paternal grandmother and my mom stand out to me particularly as role models for facing challenges head on and never giving up.
My mom’s mother passed away when she was 11 years old, so from an early age my mom was one of those people who pulled herself up by the proverbial bootstraps and got on with things. She grew up in East Tennessee, in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. She didn’t have much as a child, but worked hard and made opportunities for herself. Mom was elected Vice Mayor of her town when she was in her early fifties and got her associate’s degree a few years later. She’s always been someone who isn’t afraid to work hard and follow her dreams.
My dad’s mom was a strong lady as well. She raised eight kids, hunted, fished, gardened and was a firecracker of a woman. An avid outdoors woman, Granny Mae wasn’t afraid of much. She even learned to drive a car when she was in her 70’s. I can’t imagine her ever saying she wasn’t capable of doing something.
Over the past year, as I’ve worked more and more on our farm, I’ve come to believe that I inherited their strong work ethic and their determination to face new challenges. I felt proud that somehow I was carrying on that legacy. That was until this week. Since then, I’ve been reminded that while I may be able to tackle difficult projects or problems, I struggle when I’m not able to make a plan.
Like millions of other Texans, the past several days I found myself waiting - waiting to see if the power would go off or come on, if the water would come back on, and if it did, would there be enough to take a shower or wash dishes. This weird limbo made me crazy. I had a writing project I could work on, but motivation and creativity evaporated. It was while sitting in our bed, piled high with covers and even higher with dogs, that I remembered I’m a doer. Sitting still, unless I’m sick, is really hard for me. Being able bodied, but not wanting to get up and do anything because it was so cold was difficult. When the power came on, I obsessively charged electronics and boiled water, never knowing when I’d have the luxury again. With a thick layer of brain fog, it was about all I could accomplish.
When I look around at others’ difficulties I am reminded of how fortunate I am. Friends reached out with offers to come stay with them when they learned we had no power. When we couldn’t get out to our property because of road conditions, our farm neighbor fed our animals one day and a friend drove and helped Houston for a couple of days. As of Thursday all of our animals were not only alive; they appeared to be thriving. We lost a lot of produce, but we’ll be able to grow more. The weather will warm up and we’ll be able to host glampers who had to reschedule.
This week was a wakeup call that life is not easy. Farming is hard. Waiting is difficult. Learning new things about myself is challenging. I told a friend that I’ve learned enough recently that I don’t feel the need to learn anything new for at least a year. I’m not sure if my brain could handle it. And then I remember my roots: all of those strong, hard-working people. If they could do it, so can I.
This piece first appeared in Sherry’s column, “Finding Myself in a Small Town on the Corsicana Daily Sun website.