Friday, April 20, 2012

Vera's Journey

One of my nieces, Judy Yoder, who lives in Floyd County, Virginia, recently researched and authored a 700 page volume, “Vera’s Journey,” the life story of Vera Early Heatwole, a woman who lived most of her 102 years in southwestern Rockingham County.

The book, which details the life of a remarkable local woman who raised 11 children and overcame the trauma of becoming totally deaf in her late thirties, has sold some 7000 copies to date. Part of what makes it fascinating is the way it chronicles the profound changes ordinary rural Mennonites and Brethren in western Rockingham County had to adapt to during Vera's century of life, from 1906 to 2008.

Reading it brought back some of my memories of the Laura Ingalls Wilder series, which our children loved having us read to them at bedtime, stories that took us back to simpler times and often to times of great hardship, when families had to live and work together for their survival through good times and bad.

Most of us have been spared many of the stresses that were commonplace even a couple of generations ago. Which leads me to wonder whether our being so sheltered has made us soft and less resilient, less able to cope with hard experiences our children and grandchildren may yet have to face in the years to come.

None of us necessarily wants to go back to life as it was then, but a strong case can be made for spending a lot more time with our children reading the stories of good people from the past they can learn valuable lessons from--and a lot less time with mindless screen-based entertainment.

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