Our Stories: ‘I have learned…’

Contributed Community

By Christine Youngblood Long

On March 7, 2020, my older grandson, John Dustin Hawkins, married the love of his life, Alexis Brahn.  

It was truly a beautiful wedding joining families.  So many family and friends attended the wedding and plans were made for our family reunion  and for another wedding in our  extended family soon.  We were excited for the high school graduates in our family and listened to plans for graduation parties, and all was well in our world. John  Dustin and Alexis left early the next morning for Maui for their honeymoon to return the next Sunday.  Little did we know that by the time they returned our world would be changed dramatically.   On the Monday after the wedding, 

I had Mohs surgery on a basal cell carcinoma on my face and was told to stay in for a week.  I didn’t know when I didn’t get to go to Jenny Hill’s room to volunteer that week that I wouldn’t have a chance to tell those students goodbye.  I didn’t know when I missed Bible Study that Wednesday night and church services on Sunday, that over a month later, I would still not be worshipping with my church family.

The vacation to Zion and Bryce National Parks so intricately planned out by Dusty and Lisa  for spring break was put on hold as well as all our class plans for our 50th class reunion.  Everything seems to be put on hold right now.

I have learned some important things during this quarantine.  My daddy will soon be 93, and I thought he was elderly.  

However, I was informed that Ronnie and I are elderly, and we should be staying at home.  The grocery store and WalMart even have special times for elderly people like us.

I learned that  even though worship doesn’t have to take place in a building, there’s something special about worshipping God in a church building with church family.  I won’t take it for granted again.

I have learned that just because things are different, they don’t have to be bad.  We have friends who bring food to the pond below our house, and we can fellowship (at a safe distance of course).  I have learned to appreciate these friendships.

I have learned that worship can take many forms.  Now, on Sunday mornings, Ronnie and I walk around the farm and appreciate all God has provided for us.  We listen to the message via the laptop instead of sitting in the sanctuary at Apalachee Baptist Church.

I have learned that all food tastes better for some reason now.

I have learned to appreciate a little girl catching her first fish and naming it.

I have learned about having a positive attitude from a high school senior who comes fishing by himself instead of fun senior activities who just smiles and says thank you every time he comes.

I have learned God uses people as angels when my aunt who has Alzheimer’s was admitted to the hospital, and my uncle and cousin could not be with her. A very special young lady who is also a nurse went to see her and let us know she was okay through Skype.

I learned to share how I feel about people . You never know when it’s the last time you see that person.  I miss those students in Jenny’s room, and now I don’t know if I will see them again.

I have learned that I will not complain about going to the grocery store again and will take time to talk to people and appreciate full shelves.

I have learned that although going to the beauty shop and the nail salon are not essential,  I surely do miss these pleasures and will be more appreciative of these services.

I have learned that I miss talking to people and even hugging occasionally.

I have learned how much I miss the lunches and dinners with my grandchildren at restaurants they thought Ronnie and I might enjoy. I  have learned that I miss going into a store and just looking and even occasionally touching something.

However, I have also learned from my Bible Study passages I used to just read now have deeper meaning.  I have learned to appreciate how God always knows the reading and Bible verses I need for the day.

There are many uncertainties right now. My grandchildren are facing decisions in their lives than until six weeks ago, they had never considered.  We never expected that we would not be able to personally see John Dustin graduate from Law School this May.  

We never expected classes to be cancelled, and Dawson not be able to complete his certification in HVAC at Athens Tech this summer. While there are many uncertainties, I know God is in control, and I believe this pandemic did not surprise Him at all.  He is truly with us at all times.  I pray for our leaders during this time.

Christine Youngblood Long is a lifetime resident of Morgan County and a retired educator.

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