The Simple Life

>This past week was a both a breath of fresh air and an exhausting experience.

My mother’s family is from central Missouri, the little hamlet of Middle Grove, about 30 miles north of Columbia. Her only sister, Margaret, is at home in hospice care after a long fight with cancer. We used the spring break from school as a chance for my family to reconnect with her and several other aging family members in Missouri.

The exhausting experience comes from the fact that the family no longer lives in Middle Grove. They’ve spread out in a 45 mile radius from Centralia to Mexico to Paris to Moberly. So instead of driving 2 miles to see the next relative, we drove about 50 miles a day after a 900 mile trip there. Then a 900 mile trip back. We are plum exhausted.

At the same time, what I experienced was refreshing as well. Certainly the family renewal was part of it, but we left Missouri with a new appreciation of the country lifestyle. The majority of my Missouri relatives are seemingly isolated from the changes of the world and the culture around them. They see the news and are aware of the issues, but they don’t seem to be touched by it. Certainly not all of them fall into this category, and some of those who do have felt the effects at times (my uncle lost his farm because of the Nixon beef policy). But on the whole, they seem to be set apart from the entire thing.

We spent part of a day riding through Amish farm country. We shopped (and spent too much) in an Amish store. After leaving the Amish region and heading back into “normal society”… well, things didn’t feel too different.

They still live in the same homes. The homes themselves haven’t changed in 30 years. In some cases, it seems like the same dog is still in the barnyard. It’s sort of an eerie experience, overall.

Don’t take that as an insult. Remember, I said it was refreshing. They seem to have a better grasp on the biblical idea of taking one day at a time. Little worry and less rush. Get up, feed the cattle, work in the field, eat supper, sit around telling stories, go to bed. Sleep in the same bed your grandfather built. Next day repeat same.

There’s a sense of peacefulness and continuity that we miss in our rush-toward-tomorrow society. Some of them may read this and laugh, wondering what old crazy Gary is talking about now. That’s okay. I’ve always been a little off. I hope that’s because I’ve got some Missouri roots in me. It sure felt like home to me.


  1. >Um, there’s a song there.

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