July 4, 2013

Middletown, Mayberry and Memories

It's funny what things stick with you and what things don't.

Every year, about this time, my mind takes me back to a simpler time.

"Oh, criminy!"
This is my Granny Bickham
I was very blessed, when I was little, to know all 4 of my grandparents, plus my great-grandmother - or "Granny", as I always called her. I have specific memories of each of them that stand out. Thankfully, I still have one left! (Love you, Grandma!) But I wish I could remember more...

One of my favorite memories was when we used to go up to visit Granny in Middletown, IN, every few summers. We kids would run and play in the yard a lot of the time, but when it was too hot out, Granny would go down in the basement and find a toy or a game for us.

One day, she introduced us to Rummikub. I remember begging her to play game after game for hours! Maybe part of the fun was that she let us win from time to time. I can still hear her, once in a while, saying...

"Well, that's not really in the rules, Honey,     
     but I'll let you get away with it this time!"

She knew the point was just to have fun, and she wasn't gonna let some pesky rules get in the way!

What I really cherish, though, is just the memory of spending time with her. While we were just trying to match our numbers up, she would also ask us about how we were doing in school or what sorts of things we were into, and she would often tell us stories about what life used to be like before our time. The older I got, the more I looked forward to those stories...

I'm afraid too many families today don't take the time to play games and just talk to each other anymore. Busy schedules and fancy electronics have taken a lot of that away, but I'm thankful for those memories. While I'm at it, I'm thankful that my family always insisted that we eat dinner at the table together. It couldn't have always been easy to work it out, but somehow we did it more often than not! I didn't know how important that together time was until I was older looking back.

I remember how we even used to watch TV together, which I imagine would be nearly impossible for many families today! Back then - I wish this didn't make me sound like a dinosaur - you could watch TV all day without hearing a cuss word or seeing a single "wardrobe malfunction"! (Shocking, I know!)

Meeting "The Mayberry Deputy"
David Browning on July 4, 2009
One year in the early '90s, we were at Granny's house for July 4th, and one of the local channels played a marathon of The Andy Griffith Show. For 16-hours it was on, and I can remember Dad scrambling to find blank VHS tapes so he could record it to rewatch later! I'm not sure where they are now, but I know we still had those tapes when I went to college (along with several others). They probably got worn out from being played so much!

Memories of watching Andy Griffith with family are partly why I still love the show today!

Years later, Granny moved away from that house. She passed away in early 2011, and I'm so thankful I got the chance to say goodbye right before the end. "Precious memories! How they linger!"

Then Andy Griffith died on July 3, 2012, and that was a very sad day. I wrote some thoughts about Andy after his passing on my other blog last year. The closeness to Independence Day, I'm sure, will ensure that these memories always come back, year after year, but I've thought back about Granny and those tapes probably every summer since high school.

So on July 4th, I'm reminded of how blessed I am to live in this great nation, yes, but I'm also reminded that my blessings don't stop there! Every year, I remember those tapes... that marathon... us kids piled in the floor, laughing just as hard as the adults... I can still see Granny's old TV and that old house... I can still see Granny sitting at the dining room table, teaching us to cheat at Rummikub... and I can see the family gathered around the table later to eat dinner.

Truly, God's blessings are too numerous to count!

And greater still is the knowledge now that God was blessing me over and over, without me even knowing what was happening! Funny how he always does that!

Isn't God amazing?

Happy Fourth, everybody!

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