And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (NIV)
My mother very rarely asks for anything. She is always the helper, staying in the background and quietly serving. She is content with her life and never complains. So, when she asks for something, we all hop to it and do it. Over Thanksgiving weekend, she wanted the whole family to drive to see where she grew up. Ten of us drove an hour to Polk County to her hometown. Well, what is left of it. Her father was an engineer for a phosphate mine in Polk County. They lived in a company town, called Brewster. All the houses, the school, commissary and warehouses were owned by phosphate company. For those of you who do not live in Florida, you may not know that phosphate is what fertilizer is made from. Today’s phosphate companies like to remind us that they help feed the world and without them, crops could not be grown as easily as they are in modern day. Florida is one of the major producers of phosphate which was deposited beneath our soil billions of years ago when our state was still underwater. Unfortunately, to get to the phosphate, the land has to be mined leaving deep craters in the soil. While some of the land is restored for parks and even subdivisions, the portions where the siltlike leavings are dumped can never be used as they are contaminated beyond reclamation. After my mom left Brewster to go to college, her parents also moved because the entire town was relocated so that they could dig the phosphate underneath it. The houses were scattered around Mulberry and Bradley Junction. All that is left is a very tall smokestack which could not be demolished because it serves as an aviation landmark. After driving around what once was Brewster, we went to Mulberry to see the high school where my mom graduated. Sadly, since she had last been to Mulberry, her high school building had also been torn down. We salvaged the day by having lunch at Fred’s Market in Plant City. Even though my mom can not truly “go home again,” we had a good day as a family and it made my mom very happy to show the grandchildren where she grew up. The trip made me think about how the past can never be relived. Now that my children are growing up, there are things I wish I could have done differently, but I cannot. Though it is tempting, I can’t beat myself up over the past. I try to remember that I did the best with what I knew at the time. Besides, despite my mistakes, they haven’t turned out half bad. Today, oldest son volunteered to spend his day off searching for a lost hiker in the National Park where he works. Youngest son decided to make his girlfriend’s Christmas present because she is so special to him that she deserves something unique. The past remains a closed door, but the future looks bright anyhow.