It Seems to Run in the Family!

Jason’s mom is really big on exploring and learning and history.   My beloved mother-in-law delights in National Parks and State Parks and monuments. Linda McFarland loves nothing more than a visit to the birthplace of an important historic figure or to the place an historic figure’s parents were born.   She also enjoys visiting places historic figures visited – ate – slept or passed through on their way to someplace more interesting.

Linda has very carefully compiled a vast array of guidebooks over the years and she isn’t afraid to use them! The power of the internet search has only made her more adventurous. . .

Yes – of course – Linda goes to places that are on the beaten path like the rest of humanity. But Linda also goes to places that are off the beaten path. Linda takes the road less traveled. Sometimes Linda takes the road way – way less traveled! And she never goes alone!?! Our family is chock-full of amusing (sometimes hilariously funny) stories about exploring with Linda.

I am not sure there is a valley in Tennessee that the McFarlands haven’t explored or at least considered exploring. They have been places that aren’t quite on maps . . . that have names like Rabbit Hollow Road and Pig Pen Lane (so not kidding).

Bob – Elizabeth and Jason are game for just about anything. They all love a good adventure. These 4 will do about anything as long as they have some water – a map and a full tank of gas. Linda has trained them for adventure and dirt roads and patience.   They have grit and fortitude.

I fear getting lost. These 4 (original McFarlands) are all like “hey whatever – the Earth is round.   We can’t stay lost forever . . . ”

This weekend – the plan was to visit an Abraham Lincoln spot of significance right here in the beautiful Commonwealth of Kentucky.

My brilliant and talented sister-in-law listened carefully to her beloved mom – did a Google search – found directions and off we set on Sunday afternoon. Elizabeth is used to leading the way. She is an elementary school principal. Mrs. Markward is first into the breach often.

Soon we were in beautiful Hodgenville, Kentucky at the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park.

As we pulled in and parked – Linda turned to Bob and said “this is lovely – but I don’t think this is the place we wanted to go . . .”

Hmmm . . . well – this is Kentucky. And we are awfully proud to be the birthplace of the 16th President of the United States of America. We do have quite a few memorials and parks and statues honoring Abraham Lincoln and his family.

As I drive around Kentucky it seems like I am always getting confused by another Lincoln birthplace. (Is there more than one?) Jason tells me no. There is just one Abraham Lincoln birthplace – but there is the Sarah Lincoln birthplace. And I have NO sense of direction so I could be driving by the same Lincoln birthplace over and over again . . .

Anyway Linda – being Linda – she didn’t care one little bit that we hadn’t landed where she expected us to land on Sunday afternoon. She hopped right out of the car and off we went to explore and learn and read and see what there was to see!

We read the signs. We stood in awe imagining life in a tiny – dark log cabin in the Kentucky woods.   We imagined trying to carve a life out of the wilderness. We admired the family Bible and considered life with only ONE book to read. A seriously AWESOME book – but still just ONE book . . .

Our hearts ached for the Lincoln family thinking of their incredible losses. First their baby boy Thomas – then their farm – followed by Nancy herself.

We climbed the 56 steps to the beautiful memorial building which houses an original log cabin from the 1800’s. (Will counted each and every step.)

The kids read the words inscribed on the memorial to us:   “With malice toward none and charity for all” and we thought some big thinks about what those words mean.

“Abraham Lincoln was President of the United States of America and he’s from Kentucky” – Will declared proudly “and so am I.”

Thank you – Mimi – I thought – thank you for bringing us here on this rainy – raining Sunday afternoon. Thank you for reminding us to learn and listen and explore. Thank you for the perspective on this life we are living. Thank you for getting us outside of ourselves and our small world. Thank you for gently and lovingly encouraging those you love the most to think some big thinks on a rainy Sunday afternoon in September.

As we drove to Bardstown to dine at Talbot’s Tavern (see I told you we go to lots of historic places) we drove by the Lincoln historical place Linda had actually wanted to visit. It was the Abraham Lincoln Boyhood Home at Knob Creek – but it was still closed for renovations. We will have to go back another time!

But that won’t be a problem – because we are McFarlands (and Markwards) and we excel at adventuring!

We all need to keep our perspective on life from time to time.   Visiting a pioneer cabin will quickly help you realize just how blessed we all truly are . . .

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