Wandering but not Lost

Sarah Hodges Stalls

Community is defined as a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common. The Oxford Dictionary also describes community as a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests and goals.

To me, one of the blessings of living in small towns or rural areas is you have or are likely to have more opportunities to become a part of a community. I am one of the fortunate ones. Most of the life has been spent in or near the area originally known as Griffin’s Township. Once the school came along, many have since called this place Farm Life.

We tick the boxes for fulfilling the printed definition of a community. We live in the same place and many have characteristics in common. It may be farming or where you go to church or what baseball team your kids play for, but there’s something linking many of the neighbors.

And when there’s not a specific “thing” to link people, that’s okay. Even without a hook, strangers become neighbors and that frequently leads to friendships.

Differences are generally respected and tend to go out the window when someone from the community is in need. It’s not perfect, but it’s really good.

And it’s not often been any better than it was Saturday night.

Brian Solis said, “Community is about doing something together that makes belonging matter.”

Full disclosure, I have no clue who this person is, but I agree. And that’s what I witnessed this weekend.

With barely 24 hours notice, Linda Tice’s daughter-in-law put out a social media post explaining there was going to be a parade.

Okay, we do a lot of things well in Farm Life, but a parade?

This wasn’t just any parade. Mrs. Linda’s birthday was coming up on Saturday (April 17). Unfortunately, her recent cancer treatments had really been taking a toll and her surprise planning family wanted to do something to take her mind off a tough week and help focus it on celebrating her special day.

You see, Mrs. Linda has been going toe-to-toe with cancer for the past 18 years. And through her fight, she continues to be a living illustration of faith and hope for others and remains the “rock” of her family. Just ask them.

Word spread of the plan and Saturday evening, it all began to take shape. Cars, trucks, ATV’s, fire trucks and a patrol car or two lined the road just down from Mrs. Linda’s house. The family migrated to the yard, which was also decorated.

The sirens began to roll down the Tice Road and the smiles erupted. Mrs. Linda’s grandchildren ran constantly back and forth from the parade route picking up cards, flowers and countless other deliveries for the birthday girl.

For her, every passing car, wave and serenade of Happy Birthday was a cherished gift. She did not have to say it. She was beaming with excitement and appreciation.

There were many hugs, a few tears and too many smiles to count.

And Saturday night, we did something together that made belonging matter.

It was a good night to be in Farm Life, but to tell the truth – they all are.

Sarah Hodges Stalls is a Staff Writer at The Enterprise. She can be reached via email at shstalls@ncweeklies.com.

Thadd White is Editor of the Bertie Ledger-Advance and can be reached via email at twhite@ncweeklies.com.