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Respect for nature, God and elders

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As I walked my dog last night, I heard the rumble of thunder in the distance and saw lightning flashes.

Growing up, whenever we heard thunder and it came nearer, Daddy would have everyone come into the living room and sit very quietly. He would go around the house into every room and unplug all the electrical appliances, including the refrigerator and stove.

Nothing — and I mean nothing and no one — moved until the thunder was completely gone.

He would walk outside on the porch and determine when the rest of us could move from our seat, whether on the floor or in a chair. He wanted us to respect the Lord’s work and power during the storm.

He would recall how someone was washing windows and lightning struck and killed her or someone drawing well water with a chain and bucket suffered a lightning strike when the thunder was so far away that everyone thought the storm was over.

Sunday was a day of rest. I don’t remember my daddy ever going to church on Sunday morning, though he had been baptized as a very young man at Samaria Baptist Church — probably in the early 1900s, as he was born in 1896. You couldn’t go fishing, absolutely did no yard work or washed clothes, no sewing or use of needles or scissors on Sunday. He fed up the mules and pigs late Saturday to avoid that work on Sunday.

He believed that you should do exactly as he had been taught, and that was to respect the Lord’s work and word. I never heard him use a curse word, although I saw him angry many times. Heaven help me if I said “doggone,” “darn,” “gosh” or “gee whiz,” because those were swear words to him. I’ll confess right here and now that this particular daughter failed in that upbringing.

We were taught to respect our elders and never “dispute their word.” If an older person told me something that wasn’t quite right, I could say only “yes, ma’am” or “yes, sir,” “but I think that might not be quite right” and quietly make that correction if I dared to do even that.

To say “what” or “huh” to my parents brought an immediate “Are you listening to me?” look.

So whenever it storms now, I don’t unplug things, but I do stop and sit quietly during the storm. On Sundays, I try really hard to remember that early training, but with an electric washer and dryer, who will know if I wash clothes? Oh, yeah, that’s right — the only One who really matters will know.

Jan Mills is The Enterprise’s customer service representative. Reach her at 252-478-3651 and jmills.enterprise@wilsontimes.com.

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