Where I Lived, and What I Lived For (or, I Wished to Live Deliberately)

I stole those phrases from Thoreau. One is a chapter title from Walden, and the other is the very famous phrase from that chapter: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately…” I’m currently reading Walden in my grand effort to preread my son’s books for the upcoming school year. I learned a few things from his freshman year of high school (AmblesideOnline Year 9), one of which involves my changing role as his teacher. As we have moved into his more mature student years, in my zeal for promoting self-learning in his life, I believe that I was more hands-off than I ought to have been in this past academic year. But that’s another post. Just know I’m doing A LOT of reading this summer.

What I’m about to share may need to turn into a series of posts. [Added as I end this post: Yep! it will be.] I want to share about where all I’ve lived in these nearly 57 years (oh, no!) and what I lived for, and how much of it was deliberate choices for some pretty deliberate living. I wish I could say that now I find myself in a cabin in the woods with plenty of acreage surrounding me, where I grow my Joel Salatin-approved plants and animals, (or, rather, let them grow) but, alas, it is not so…yet.

The first two homes in which I lived my first 17 years in Illinois were not my choice, obviously. But they were good homes. In good places. With very good people. I was blessed. My parents left their homeland of Macon and Clay Counties in Tennessee in the early 1950s shortly after their marriage. As I shared in a previous post, my Dad was 32 at the time of their marriage, and along with serving overseas in WWII, had traveled out-of-state a few times for work, and traveled as a musician. He felt that it was the right thing to settle down now with this responsibility of a family, so he took his very young bride up north to the Quad-Cities, an Iowa/Illinois metropolitan area, where he knew there was steady work. For the greater part of the nearly 40 years they spent there, my Dad worked for International Harvester at their Farmall plant in Rock Island, Illinois. I don’t know on which side of the river (Mississippi) that they first lived, but I do know that shortly after their move there, they were both baptized and helped to build (physically and spiritually) a church in Davenport, Iowa. My parents were familiar with the Church of Christ in Tennessee, but neither became members until their move up north. My parents remained very active members of the church for all those nearly 40 years in Illinois — they were members of at least 3 congregations of the Church of Christ in that area. I was the 4th of their 5 children and came along during their 12th year of marriage. As you may imagine, church activities were a big part of my growing up years — twice on Sunday, Wednesday nights, week-long ‘gospel meetings’, summer Vacation Bible School, special events and suppers, area-wide singings, singing at the nursing home, holidays and other celebrations with church friends, summer evangelism campaigns, youth rallies.  And most importantly of all, my parents lived the morality that they taught. Like I said, I lived with very good people. I was indeed blessed.

I wanted to tell about those choices of my parents about where to live and how to live because they obviously much influenced who I became and why I have made the various choices that I have in the 40 years following my exit as a full-time resident of their home. What you also need to know is that for 23 of the 40 years of my adult life I was a single woman. The choices I made were by me alone and for me alone; I had no husband or child to consider, no family for which I was responsible. And yet I was able to take those values (most of them, that is — oh, the debt…) of my Dad that were associated with family responsibility and put them into practice in a single life. But as you will see, the way that I have most imitated the values, and thus, choices, of my parents, both as a single woman and as a wife and mother, is in their spiritual life. This life of mine has definitely been for the most part a spiritual journey. [For those of you that don’t know me well, you might think from the previous description of my family church life that what this means is that I’m going to go on with this long saga and fill it with 40 years of church activities, but you would be off there. It might still be more church-going than you can stomach, but trust me, my spiritual journey has been much more than church-going, as well it ought to be. I think there will even be surprises for some that think they do know me well. This could potentially be a Kay coming-out time. Now, aren’t some of you interested. Don’t worry, family, it’s not like that. (smiley face)]

End of Part 1. For real. I think I need to map out the sections of my life and decide what years to share with each post. I anticipate agonizing over significant things that I will forget to tell about and stressing about just how to tell what I do remember. I’ve lived in 8 U.S. states since I left my parents’ Illinois home, and several residences and cities within some of those states. Forty years and all those states is a lot to cover. What a ride it’s been. See you in Part 2.






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