By Judy Brandon
When I was a child, I always enjoyed summer vacations at my grandparents’ house. They lived in Central Arkansas about 65 miles from Little Rock. The highway that took us there meandered through rolling hills, thick brush, Burma Shave signs and small communities.
My sister Susie and I found much to do on those summer trips. One of our favorite activities was spending time at the little grocery store down the highway from our grandparents’ house. A lady named Mrs. Hutchinson, along with her husband Ward, operated the store. This modest business was a place of wonder for me and the social gathering place for all ages in the little community.
Even today I can recall the smell of feed that overwhelmed me as I opened the screen door bearing a Wonder Bread metal sign. Mrs. Hutchinson stocked a wide variety of goods: fabric, lye, garden seed, brooms, all kinds of groceries and an array of over-the-counter medicines. She had candy and RC Cola and Orange Crush.
She had candy galore. When we bought our candy and RC out of the old chest cola dispenser, my cousins and Susie and I would go out in the front of her store to socialize. Elm, oak and maple trees shaded the boarded porch leading up to the store. But the best thing was the old sack swing on one of the trees.
We would all take turns pushing one another on that swing. When it was my turn I would holding on as tight as I could and fly though the air to nearly touch the porch eves. Yes, her place was a gathering place that hosted a kind of social assembly that affirmed my own roots. The trees in the Hutchinson yard became a monument to my childhood good times and good friends.
Then one spring my grandfather called to tell us that their community had been hit by a tornado. Nothing on their property was damaged but the Hutchinson’s store was destroyed, and that the huge oak tree had been leveled. That made me sad and I thought all was lost. I would never get to sway from its branches on the old sack swing.
Yet I suppose time has a way of bringing all into perspective. When we returned to my grandparents’ the next summer, the promise of new life was evident. Where the old tree had stood, there were hundreds of tiny oak shoots coming up from the ground where the roots down deep of the old tree had been nourished in the Arkansas soil.
Is not our influence somewhat like that? Especially on this Mother’s day weekend, grandmothers, great grandmothers, and mothers should consider our influence. My mother has shown me that the way we live and the life we live impact generations to come. The influence we build in our lifetime will outlast our physical bodies. Even though it is throughout our lives that our influence is defined, the message of our lives continues to live after we are gone.
Mothers, guard and cherish you influence. Do the best you can “with all your might” as the Apostle Paul wrote. In years to come, there may be some little ones listening to accounts of godly mothers and grandmothers. Those little shoots of influence will spring up long after the big tree is gone.
Judy Brandon is an instructor at Clovis Community College. Contact her at: