Here’s another story about my life in the little Northeast Georgia community of Ocee. In the sixties and seventies, the area consisted of mostly abandoned farmlands, yet now it’s thriving and overbuilt with homes and offices. Back then, the neighbors all had land between their homes. Just below the 18 acres I lived on was a working farm, growing an abundance of things, with a large cattle-farming area. It was one of the most beautiful spots I have ever seen. Rolling hills, grain growing fields, beautiful wooded areas, and pastures of horses and cows grazing.
A country gentleman managed the farm. I was always so impressed by his knowledge and expertise about operating an animal and grain-growing farm. He frequently stopped by my antique shop…always driving a tractor. I never saw him drive a car. His name was Brumbelow, but I called hum Mr. B. He was always so pleasant to talk to. He was illiterate, could not read or write, but so knowledgeable about the practical things in life and a wonderful neighbor that would do anything to help anyone.
One day, one of my other neighbors stopped by and told me Mr. B was in the hospital. When I asked what for, she replied, “ignorance.” I laughed and thought that was so funny, as she was the ignorant one to reply with such an answer. Her comeback referred to his lack of literacy, which did not register with me immediately at the time.
I kept thinking about the remark, and began realizing that in fact ignorance is the very reason any of us become ill and hospitalized, even if we can read and write. Most of the time when we become ill, we do not know what’s wrong with us, what caused it, or how to fix it. So we run to a doctor and frequently he does not know what the problem is, what caused it, or how to fix it. Then doctors commonly misdiagnose and prescribe the wrong medicine. Therefore, we get sick and go to a hospital. When you really think about it, the problem in many cases stems from ignorance.
From time to time, I have reflected back on that incident and conversation with the neighbor and realized she touched a nerve at the core of my ignorance. She caused me to think deeply on the subject of illness and how we’re often ignore about that subject altogether. In retrospect, it proved a great lesson in education for me.
My life has been so varied because all of the different kinds of people I’ve met along the way. For example, living in Japan, playing bridge with members of the Imperial Household, wining and dining with royalty. These experiences were exciting and fascinating, but no more than others, like being friends with Mr. B., whom I admired a great deal because of his harmony with the land and his ability to farm and create from the earth.
Despite the fact that the Nobility of the Japanese Empire was fascinating for me to have a peak into, I understood it had only been 5 years prior to that time in which they ventured from behind the walls and mote. One partner I played with was in her eighties and often wondered what life must have been like living behind castle walls all those years.
I believe education is simply an acquisition of knowledge, regardless of where it comes from. It could be in a classroom, or stem from an old illiterate farmer.
And in this connection, I believe there are so many ‘octogenarians’ out there with so much knowledge about so many things which should be shared with the generations following them. I invite you to use this wonderful medium of communication—the Internet–to express some of your ideas. Think about it and try it.
Let Freedom Ring!