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Jack McCall: Count your blessings

Jack McCall • Updated Sep 9, 2018 at 8:00 AM

We take so many things for granted in this great country of ours. Did you know in 1922 – fewer than 100 years ago – only 3 percent of the farms in the U.S. had electricity? Not until 1935 – just 83 years ago – with the formation of the Rural Electrification Administration, did electric power begin to become available on a grand scale for rural America.

When I was a boy in the 1950s, the heat of summer nights in the Brim Hollow was only broken by gentle breezes from beneath lazy shade trees and a small oscillating fan, which attempted to stir the night air. Later, back at the home place, my family installed window fans, which did little more than move the sticky night air. They did, however, bring some relief. Today, most of us live and work in climate-controlled environments. And today we think nothing of lights at the flip of a switch, microwaves, vacuum cleaners, electric mixers, televisions and a myriad of electrical gadgets, which make our lives easier. Count your blessings.

My eldest son’s water heater went out a week or so back. It took him a day or two to line up a plumber. He and his oldest daughter came to our house one night to take a shower. It seems they preferred hot water to cold. His wife, Emily, went to a neighbor’s house to shower. Reminded me of the old saying, “You don’t miss the water until the well runs dry.”

There was no running water in the house in the Brim Hollow. There was a spigot fed by a rain barrel on the back porch. Drinking water was drawn from a well. Today, we Americans enjoy the safest and purest water supply in the world. And it comes to us at the turn of a faucet. Ask a missionary friend about water quality in third-world countries. Then, count your blessings.

My late mother was legally blind in her declining years. Her deteriorating knees became so bad she could hardly navigate from room to room, and she experienced constant pain. But of all the things age had taken from her, she confessed she missed her ability to see the most. She especially missed reading her “marked’ Bible. If you have eyes that see, count your blessings.

There were two tasks on the farm where I grew up that my late father never relinquished to his sons. One job was pulling the tobacco setter. He considered himself the master to lay off straight rows. The other job was baling hay. He was a wizard at keeping old equipment going, and he hovered over engines that tended to run too hot like a mother hen. But the day came when he could no long perform those tasks. Eventually, he was no longer able to leave the house. And later, he became confined to his bed.

If you live on a farm and you are still able to climb on a tractor, or mow the yard or walk to the barn or drive out into the pasture and check the cows, count your blessings.

An old preacher used to visit the church I attended as a boy. He usually showed up at revival time. When called upon to pray, he would invariably come across this line, “And Lord, thank you that I woke up this morning and put my feet on the floor in a sound mind.” 

If you woke up this morning, and you still had all your marbles, count your blessings. 

We have seven grandchildren – four girls and three boys. They say the funniest things. I love to hear the girls giggle. Sometimes it seems they can think faster than I can. They make me feel younger. If you have grandchildren, count your blessings. 

The late newspaper columnist and humorist, Lewis Grizzard used to declare, “I am a citizen of the United States by birth and by choice; and Southern by the grace of God.” So am I.

I am convinced we Southerners live in the best part of the world. At least some of us still know some of our neighbors. Folks in our part of the world have a tendency to look out for each other – makes for a safer place to live and raise your children. It’s just another reason to count your blessings.

Jack McCall is an author and also writes a weekly column for The Lebanon Democrat.


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