The good old days probably mean many different things to different people. I find myself remarking more and more about them when I think of certain, places, people or events. My old pastor used to say he did not long for the good ole days, as some said they did. He said he did not miss hot houses, no air conditioning to sleep in at night, plowing a mule through a dusty field, having to grow everything his family ate, or traveling by horse and buggy, and to him, those were memories of the good old days. He ended his little monologue by saying he liked good firm beds, air conditioning, a new Cadillac, comfortable clothes, and all the restaurants he had to choose from in his community. And then he asked, “Do you folks like those comfortable padded pews you are sitting in today?”
Perhaps I, like many others, am more truthfully referring to the spirit of the good ole days. I’m thinking I liked and respected how people cared for each other. If a man was ill, the community pitched in to help him harvest his crop, raise a barn, milk a cow, or get a child a pair of shoes for school that year. They also dropped by with food and small gifts for kids at Christmas or maybe even a birthday, and the health of all in the area seemed to be the concern of every caring citizen. It simply feels good to the soul to help someone else with no thought of return for yourself.
I read something after attending the big festivities for the Julie Rogers “Gift of Life” Program in Beaumont featuring Richard Simmons, the exercise guru, that made me think more on this thought. I had the privilege of interviewing him for an article in The Examiner and found him to be delightful, warm and caring. He really seems to care for each of his fans worldwide. I have received several kind e-mails personally written by him from his home in California, and he closes each one with “I love you, Richard.”
In one, he thanked me for the article I wrote and the photos I used. In another, he said he was packing to come to Beaumont. And another said he had arrived back home in Los Angeles safely and how much he enjoyed visiting Southeast Texas. Most celebrities would never take the time to communicate with a member of the media they had never personally met, but Richard Simmons does, and I have the e-mails to prove that fact.
More than 2,000 folks turned out in a downpour of rain on that Saturday to see and meet him and celebrate survivorship of cancer. A group of our Beaumont men even danced on the stage with Richard as he led them in expressing their concern for cancer patients, education, treatment, and a cure. You might think Richard Simmons quirky, quaint or eccentric, but everyone who meets him sees love, acceptance and genuine compassion.
I sensed everywhere about us in that big filled Beaumont Civic Center a feeling of the good ole days and that people genuinely cared about each other. Survivors were seated with those that provided help for them in their darkest hour, and medical personnel, clergy, volunteers and the staff of the organization all seemed congenial and kind to every person in attendance. Some laughed together, some cried together, and some prayed together.
During this same busy week, my heart was hurting that friends of mine for almost 50 years were in the Atlanta area burying their only daughter, who died from breast cancer. She had fought bravely, but the disease claimed her after 13 long years. Amy Bagley Tyner was a brave and beautiful young lady, kind, sincere and helpful to all she met, and she left a beautiful 4-year-old daughter to be reared by loving family. We know that she was a Christian and that she is at home in heaven, but the earthly pain still stings.
I so desperately wanted to be with my lifetime friends to offer my love and support, but there was just no way I could get from Texas to Atlanta for the visitation and funeral and then back for the “Gift of Life” event on Saturday. It is sometimes difficult to demonstrate what is in our hearts, but the Lord helps us to convey our love and support in many different ways. I had written my friend and called and let others in the area know of the Amy’s death, and I believe Joe and Sandy understood and would have wanted me to be “in the fight” at the event.
It seems to me, and perhaps I am just dwelling on the past today, that in the good ole days neighbors really did care for neighbors, family was family no matter what, and people were simply there for one another. We are so busy in this day and age that we forget to be kind, helpful, caring and concerned. Many really simply do not care, don’t take the necessary time or money, or life is all about them and their family. We are too busy just keeping up to do some of the things that hold the precious encouragement so many need today.
What one act could each of us do today to help another individual? Who knows, we very well could be the only person available who lends a smile, offers a small loan, sits by a bedside, babysits, cooks a meal, buys a bouquet, or just spends time with another soul who needs it more than we can know. And that one simple act could change a life and offer a new prospective. How much money would it cost to bake a cake and deliver it to someone who would appreciate it for the rest of his life? That bright bouquet available at the supermarket or local florist might just be the only one that person gets all year. An unexpected card in the mail can lift the spirit of a downcast soul.
I am all for modern technology, and I have no real desire to return to the days of old, but I do pray that we could recapture some of that feeling of care and concern for other human beings that came forth so clearly in past times. I am asking God to put it on my heart to help someone every time I recognize a clear landmark of the good ole days. It will likely be small, but it will be from my heart and bathed in prayer. How many will join me?
“… Stand ye in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein …” (Jeremiah 6:16).
Brenda Cannon Henley can be reached at (409) 781-8788 or at brendacannonhenley [at] yahoo [dot] com.