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Phillips: The roots run deep

Posted: July 21, 2015 5:36 p.m.
Updated: July 22, 2015 1:00 a.m.

My mother’s family has six in her generation. She is the oldest, followed by my Aunt Doris and my uncles Mart, Bill, Jim and John. They grew up on a small farm in Stoddard County in southeast Missouri, but are now scattered about, as many families are. They are a remarkable bunch.

Some are still in various areas of Missouri, while others are in Arkansas, Texas and Florida. All six have adult children who also are spread out as well. One thing we do on a regular basis is get together for family reunions. Lately, a schedule of having such an event every other year works well for most of us, so that’s what we have been doing. Not everyone can get there every time, including myself.

Our most recent event was just last week at a lovely resort area in western Kentucky. The family rents several houses on the same street and there is a wide variety of activities for the kids and adults. We realize not all families try to stay in touch like we do and we feel especially fortunate we are willing and able to do so.

With a family this large, and growing larger all the time as the younger ones get married and have families of their own, we have different interests, occupations, hobbies and many other things. We’re simply different, but we always have the commonality of that little farm, where the story of this branch of the family tree got started.

Farming is hard work, folks, and always has been. But it was much harder back in the times before massive machinery helped make the effort more profitable and comfortable. Those six kids spent a lot of time with a hoe in their hands, you can count on that. They learned the value of hard work and the reward you get from a job well done. Those roots have served them all quite well throughout their lives and they’ve done all they can to pass that mindset down to the new generations.

Besides spending a lot of time in the fields and the garden, they also spent a lot of time at church. This also has had a tremendous positive effect on their lives. Being involved with church is just something they were raised with and came naturally. It is another trait they passed on to their children and grandchildren.

Those six kids got off the farm. Some became teachers and athletic coaches. They met their wives in college while they also studied to be teachers. There are a lot of teachers in that family, including my mother. One joined the U.S. Air Force and received training which carried into civilian life and made him a good living. They have all done well in whatever path they chose.

But the roots really do run deep. After leaving the farm and moving on to other opportunities, some of them have returned to farming in their retirement years. Not on any grand scale, but some raise livestock to use themselves and to sell. One of my cousins and her husband own several chicken houses while they continue to work other jobs. Farming is in the blood for that family.

The little farm where it all started is still there and is still farmland, but is now part of a much bigger operation and is completely unrecognizable. The house, barns, silo and other buildings are long gone and even those who grew up there have to look hard to envision where their homeplace used to be as they pass by. But their roots are still there in that Missouri dirt, and I’m proud to be able to say they always will be. 


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