I have just spent two days with my cousin, Pat, and his wife, Jan, and their son, Dan, his wife Amy and daughter, Hanna in Smithville, Missouri. I also visited Pat’s brother, Ray, who lives there too. The expression, “salt of the earth” comes from the Book of Matthew which describes the sermon on the mount. Jesus compares good, honest and hard working people to the pleasure salt brings to our enjoyment of food. In those days–and now– salt gives flavor and gusto to our meals. It was a rare and prized commodity very much like good, steadfast and generous people are.
Both Pat and Jan come from generations of farmers. Men and woman who own their land; work hard and may be comfortable but rarely rich. They struggle with pests, drought, hail, floods, and ever-more complex and oppressive regulations. They have no one to bail them out if the corn is destroyed by hail; if the Missouri overflows its banks; if the grasshoppers eat the silk on the corn. They just keep on truckin’. They depend on one another and they bank the good will they have earned from their neighbors over a lifetime of concern and caring.
I spent two days with Pat and Jan. We talked endlessly of our lives and of growing up and of our families. My mother and her family came from generations of farmers as well. Pat’s mom, Louise, and mine were sisters. I loved visiting the farm more than anything else when I was a girl; I loved my cousins–still do!
I also visited the home where my grandparents lived and helped to raise me during the war. The house is just how I remembered it. A lovely family with three children live in it now. It was like a small miracle to stand before that house and remember how lucky and how loved I was as a child.