Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Today's Noun - Lesson

les·son /ˈlɛsən/
1. a section into which a course of study is divided, esp. a single, continuous session of formal instruction in a subject:
2. a part of a book, an exercise, etc., that is assigned to a student for study:
3. something to be learned or studied: the lessons of the past.
4. a useful piece of practical wisdom acquired by experience or study:
5. something from which a person learns or should learn; an instructive example:
6. a reproof or punishment intended to teach one better ways.
7. a portion of Scripture or other sacred writing read or appointed to be read at a divine service; lection; pericope.

[Origin: 1175–1225; ME lesso(u)n < OF leçon < L léctiōn- (s. of léctiō)


When I was about seven years old my father came home from work around 6:00 PM on a Friday night and announced that we were moving to Wyoming, and we needed to be there by Monday morning. This was nothing new. Dad was in the mining and tunnel construction business, so we moved about every 6-18 months. My mother was the queen of picking up our entire household, moving it across country, and putting it all back together in a weekend.

All of us kids knew the drill. None of us even spoke. We all just stood up, went to our rooms, pulled the boxes and suitcases out from underneath our beds, and began packing our personal things. Mother began packing the kitchen, and after my sister and I were finished with our items we went to our parent's room and began packing their things. My three brothers were in charge of gathering and packing things like tools and the garden hose, then were commissioned to start packing the trunk of our huge car as my sister and I carried boxes to them. Everyone was well aware of their jobs, and it worked like a well oiled machine every time. This particular time, our house was totally packed up by midnight. We all slept in sleeping bags, which, in the morning were put on top of the car (on the bed frames and mattresses) and all seven of us piled into the car once again - this time for a two day drive from Alabama to Wyoming.

This particular trip was memorable to me because I was in charge of reading speed limit signs. This was the first time I'd been given a job DURING the actual road trip - just like my four older siblings. I felt as if I was, at last, important to the family. In my mind, I was very grown up. In addition to that important duty, I was also told that it was my job to watch for billboards that advertised gas stations. This part of my "job" was excruciating! I remember asking time after time . . . "Do we need gas yet, Dad?" Eventually, after what seemed like an eternity to me, we did need gasoline and I was to find us a place to purchase it.

I diligently started reading every billboard. For miles I was disappointed. I began to fear I had missed one. I worried we would run out of gas. I was a perfectionist even then, and was so worried I began to get nauseated. But I did not want to appear unworthy to my family, and sweated it out silently. Finally, I spyed a sign for Stuckey's!! (Remember Stuckey's? =) As was our custom, my family literally applauded when I loudly announced we had two miles to go before reaching the gas station. (My father was not one to stop often, and the seven of us had been packed in the car for a solid four hours.)

We all piled out of the car and everyone but me and Dad headed for the restrooms. I was quiet as Dad instructed the gas station attendant to "Fill 'er up with Ethel!" The attendant set the nozzle in the tank, turned on the pump with a crank, and began to clean the windshield while making small talk with my Dad. I watched as Dad pulled a wad of bills out of his pocket that was about four inches in diameter to pay the attendant. I was mezmerized!! How much money could that be? Dad broke my gaze as I stared at it by telling me to go inside and "Do what you need to do."

I obeyed immediately. On my way to the back of Stuckey's where the restrooms were, a beautiful horse figurine caught my eye. It called to me! I looked around cautiously for any of my family members, realized that they were using the restrooms and I would have to wait anyway, then decided it wouldn't hurt to go have a closer look at the beautiful figurine. I dared not pick it up, for fear of dropping it, but I gently ran my fingers over the mane and tail, and the muscular features of it - marveling at the detail of it.

Instead of going on back to the restrooms, I went back outside and approached my dad. "Dad? Do you think I did a good job with my road duties?"

"Yes, you did. But you have to keep doing it. I need your help." He said flatly.

"I will." I promised. I took a deep breath and asked, "Daddy? Can I please have some money to buy a horse I saw inside? It would be great for my collection."

"I don't know. CAN you?"

"MAY I?"

"No, you may not. I don't have the money right now."

I was crushed. I felt betrayed. I just knew had been LIED to!! I had *just* seen that wad of bills my Dad had in his pocket. I knew he had money!!! But I never said a word, went inside and used the restroom, then piled back into the car when everyone else did.

For years I continued to think my father betrayed and lied to me. That is, until I was a teenager. I got my first job, and my first car - complete with car payments, insurance, and gasoline to pay for - when I was sixteen. One day, after cashing my paycheck, I realized I would not have enough money to pay my car payment, pay the insurance, buy gasoline, buy my lunch all week, AND go to the football game on Friday night.

My niece, Sharon, was with me at the time. After we had gone to the bank she asked, "Aunt Beth? Can we go to McDonalds for lunch?"

"No, Sharon, we can't go this time. I don't have the money."

"But . . ." whined my six year old niece ". . . You just went to the bank!! They gave you money!!"

Boy. It hit me like a lead balloon.

I dropped my niece off at her house, went home, and promptly apologized to my Dad.


violetlady said...

Another good story with a moral. I can't imagine moving that frequently and yet with such precision.

P.S. My daughter's name is Beth.

Spiritheart said...

Glad you enjoyed it! =)

I love my name. Were you aware that it is Hebrew for "House of God"? That's quite a bit to live up to!!