The other day a long-time acquaintance walked into Twin Rocks Trading Post and said, "I have known you and your family nearly 20 years and have never, not once, been in this store." "What brings you in now," I asked. "Those stories you and Steve write," he replied. "I wanted to see for myself where those parables originate." We had a good laugh, and then, because our children are of the same age group and have grown up together, I asked how his kids are and where they are living. As we spoke of his offspring, I saw great joy and satisfactions in his eyes. I know he and his wife are focused and diligent when it comes to their children, and from where I stand they are top notch parents.
As we went down the list of his children, we came to one of his sons. This young man is attending college on the other side of the state and has recently married. At this point, I recognized a disquieting sadness in my friend's countenance. "Is your boy okay," I asked, concerned for his well-being. "Yes," he replied, "he's fine, doing well in school and happily married, though his new companion doesn't think much of my wife and me. She doesn't like where I live, how I live or how I make a living." "Sounds like an outspoken young woman," I quipped. "To say the least," was his reply.
Without knowing it, my friend had touched a nerve, uncovered a concern I have about future relations with my kids. My wife and I are extremely close with our children, and I will find it extremely disturbing if I lose that bond because of an uncompromising daughter or son-in-law. I have seen it happen much too often not to be aware of the possibility. None of our brood are married, but I often worry what it might be like if a future in-law finds me . . . unacceptable. Because of his close connection to his children, this man and his wife must be deeply hurt by this unfortunate turn of events.
Twin Rocks Trading Post Interior
Time and again over the last several days my thoughts have returned to that conversation, and it has caused me to reflect on my own humble beginnings. I clearly recall living in a single-wide trailer-house behind the Plateau gas station, which was located on the south end of Blanding. Even though that mobile home had been burned out and only partially refurbished, we found it quite manageable, even comfortable. Through our middle school and and much of our high school years Craig, Steve and I slept on the floor of the living room, while Susan and Cindy shared a room and Mom and Dad occupied the master suite at the far end. There were wool blankets for doors and one partially finished bathroom, where, because no one bothered to knock, you learned not to settle in too comfortably or too long.
My brothers and I thought we had moved uptown when mom and dad had a small 1950s trailer parked next to the larger model. We built beds into the new-old trailer and moved out. Our bathroom was 30 yards uphill in the gas station, which seemed a mile during the dead of winter. It was only later we learned the move was motivated by our sisters. It seems they were less than appreciative of us barging through the door flap when they were indisposed.
Along with the gas station, our parents ran a secondhand store. Through this outlet they bought items others no longer needed and sold them to those who did. Our parents worked extremely hard to better our situation, the harmony and balance of their young, veracious brood was their singular mission. Through those and successive businesses, our parents taught us a strong work ethic, the qualities of integrity and honesty, the value of education and, mostly, the strength and security of a tightly bonded family.
I wish I could say I was never embarrassed by our circumstances, but that would be dishonest. Because I knew mom and dad were devoted to us and would support us as far as the great beyond, and beyond, I do not recall ever regretting being born into this family. I will be forever grateful for the most valuable of lessons our parents taught us, to love and to properly and frequently express that emotion.
There are two lessons to be learned here: (1) I should probably maintain an educational outlook and enroll in the Atlas School of Manners and Proper Protocol; this might help me to get along with just about anyone, and (2) be careful of what you say and do while visiting Twin Rocks Trading Post and Cafe, you just may be mentioned in one of our missives. In this case I have sworn to protect the anonymity of my friend, so his daughter-in-law will not give him hell for sharing family secrets.
With warm regards,
Barry, Steve and The Team
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