My sister, Lauryn, has turned me on to a book called The Sacred Romance: Drawing Closer to the Heart of God by Brent Curtis and John Eldredge. I was reading this afternoon and one of the authors was talking about his grandfather taking him “visiting” on Sunday afternoons when he was young. My grandmother used to do the same with my sisters and me. I wonder, does anyone else have such fond memories of a bygone pastime?

The Clarks

My grandmother was divorced and never remarried, so she had time to go visit the elderly in the church on Saturdays. My favorite place to go was the farm of Mr. and Mrs. George Clark. They were originally from England and had, still, a mild enough accent that it could be understood and admired by a young American girl. When Grandma would take me visiting at the Clark’s place, Mrs. Clark would stoke up an old wood-burning stove and cook lunch on it. It was fascinating to watch! I wasn’t particularly interested in the things Grandma and Mrs. Clark talked about, so sometimes I would quietly and reverently explore the farmhouse. Most of our time was spent in the kitchen, but if I promised to be very careful, I could go into the cool living room that was silent save for the tick-tick-tick of the grandfather clock with its pendulum slowly swinging from left to right. I have a vague sense that once I was allowed to look in the attic and there was an old china doll there, but that was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Mr. Clark was of more interest to me. He spent most of his time outdoors working the farm. He was never too busy to tell stories though. There was a rooster named Jimmy whom Mr. Clark said had adopted them. I would sit in the tire swing under a tree by the barn and sing, “Jimmy cracked corn and I don’t care” when I’d see Jimmy in the yard. One day, Mr. Clark told me a bit about his youth. He had brothers and sisters in England and his father would send them out to pick berries, but he made them whistle while they worked. I asked why and Mr. Clark chuckled and said that you can’t eat berries while you’re whistling!

My recollection of those summer days when Grandma would take me to go visiting at the Clark’s farm was that they were always sunny, it was always deliciously cool on the tire swing under the big old tree, and it was peaceful and green. John Denver had a song on one of his albums called Cool and Green and Shady. That’s how it felt to spend time on the farm.

Great-grandpa Judd

My grandmother would also take me to visit my great-grandfather, the father of her ex-husband. They maintained a relationship after the divorce. My great-grandfather had been a missionary in Africa with his wife and children, and when they came back to the states, he worked with the people in the Appalachians. My great-grandmother wrote something about the feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys in her journal. Great-grandpa was also a pastor and when he died, I got a Bible that one of his churches had gifted him with.

He was also a geologist of sorts. When I was in fifth grade, my teacher asked anyone who had a rock collection to bring it to class and talk about it. I had been saving agates and other pretty pebbles out of our driveway, so I told her I had a rock collection I could bring. When I went home and told my parents, they were aghast! They immediately enlisted my grandmother to take me visiting to Great-grandpa’s house. Usually, when Grandma took me to his house, she sat with him in the living room and visited while I sat on the porch swing and swang as hard as I could. There was a tall green hedge in front of the porch, so it was like being in a private, green room. However, on this visit, Great-grandpa took me down into his basement. It had never even occurred to me before that he had a basement. It was like exploring a cave. There was light filtering through dust coming from the basement windows that were just above ground level. The basement walls were lined with shelves that had rocks of all kinds on them, including fossils. Great-grandpa had been something of an adventurer and a mountain climber and had collected rocks from all over the place. He helped me pick out a boxful of rocks and carried the heavy box up to the kitchen table. There, he told me about each rock, what kind of rock it was and what was special about it. I finally had a worthy collection to take to school and talk about!

I never got to return those rocks to Great-grandpa. Shortly after that, he was taken to live in a nursing home. My parents would take me to visit him on Sundays and I would read to him out of his Bible. That’s why it was given to me when he passed. I wept bitterly when my mother told me he was gone. I wanted to go to his funeral, but because I had cried so hard at the news that he had died, she thought it best that I go to school instead. I remember during recess, standing next to the playground fence looking towards the hill we lived behind and wishing I were at the funeral and feeling sad about losing Great-grandpa.


There was another place Grandma would take me sometimes. I don’t remember the names of the elderly mother and her spinster daughter who lived there, but I remember they had a koi pond and a trellis in their back yard. I’m sure there were others we went to visit as well, but they don’t particularly stand out in my memory. The point is that it was a wonderful thing to go visiting with Grandma. I got to see how other people lived, and sometimes they enjoyed having a young’un around to talk to. I learned a healthy respect for my elders. That is an experience that today’s young people have never had, and it shows. Perhaps the world would be a gentler place if more grandparents took their grandchildren “visiting”.

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