Monday, June 19, 2017

My "Piece" of West Virginia!

When I moved to the Deep South several years ago, two staff members at the school where I taught thought I should take a "piece" of West Virginia with me. Here's the story...

I will be the first to admit - moving is tough, especially a big move to another state! Leaving my family, friends, church, and school was something I had not planned for. I loved "Almost Heaven", West Virginia - the mountains were my home! I was born and raised in that beautiful state, as were my parents, grandparents, etc. My children were born in West Virginia, also, and I planned to stay there my whole life. 

We had just finished our extensive home remodel in January of 2000, and we found out in March of that year that we were moving to the Sunny South, over 1,000 miles away! Talk about someone being a "Cry Baby" - it was me!

Getting ready to move was really tough. Of course there was finishing the school year, packing, and trying to sell our current house. I also scheduled and taught Vacation Bible School and helped raise money for summer camp for the youth at our church. My husband was already working in Louisiana, so I was the "chief cook and bottle washer", along with being the family chauffeur. It was stressful!

At the end of the school year, two staff members at the elementary school where I taught decided to give me a very special gift. They entered my classroom carrying something in a big box. I could tell by the looks on their faces and the way they were walking that the gift was very heavy. I was told that they wanted me to take a "piece" of West Virginia with me, and here it was! I was very baffled and curious as I cautiously looked inside. In the box was a huge West Virginia stepping stone! 

This sturdy stepping stone has a place of honor at our Louisiana home - by our pool alongside a flowerbed with a myriad of colorful blossoms. Vivid Vincas, Dusty Millers, and tropical Hibiscus now grow where once there were only a few neglected shrubs. 

That first year in Louisiana was tough. Getting used to teaching a different grade at a new school as well as learning the rules, regulations, and standards of a new school system was a challenge. I missed my family and friends, and everything that seemed familiar. Some nights I would stand outside amid the palm trees beside of the WV stepping stone and gaze up at the night sky, knowing that the moon and stars that I saw were also being seen by family and friends in West Virginia. It was such a comforting thought. Besides the loneliness, I became very sick, and I also had major surgery in the spring. When school was out for the summer, I came to the conclusion that if I could survive all that had happened that year, I could certainly survive and be happy here! 

The strong stepping stone has withstood many hurricanes and tropical storms, and an occasional ice storm during its stay in Louisiana. It has enjoyed a lot of sunshine, and it has seen rainbows. 

When I look at that stone, beautiful memories of West Virginia flash into my mind, and I smile. I too, have weathered a few storms while living in the Deep South. Fortunately, there has been far more sunshine than storms, and the occasional rainbow has been magnificent! I am now stronger because of the storms that I have endured.

Soon, we will be moving again. Of course, the West Virginia stepping stone will be going along, and so will the beautiful memories. Now there's even more memories - including memories of moving to a different state, being lovingly teased about my "accent" from my new friends, and being accepted as one of their own!

At our new home, the West Virginia stepping stone will be given another special place of honor, and more flowers will be planted nearby in what is now virtually a blank slate. The stepping stone will experience more storms, sunshine, and rainbows. More beautiful memories will be made. Of course, moving will be tough again, but I will get through it. I will run through the raindrops and sing in the rain, just like I always taught my students. 

I have learned a tough lesson that will carry me through this move: if you take your happiness with you, you can be happy anywhere. Just like those tall mountains of my birth and my special West Virginia stepping stone, I will be strong. I will survive! I will carry those special memories along as I again take a "piece" of West Virginia with me.

My "piece" of West Virginia
in Louisiana!

My "Piece" of West Virginia
at the Log Home in the Big Woods!

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