By Renee Hodges
But, I neeeeed it . . .
I can’t think of four words that got under Daddy’s skin more. For a man who grew up, the youngest of five children with a widowed mom, working other people’s fields in the Arkansas delta, to hear one of his children say they needed anything more than air and water ripped open scabs covering wounds of poverty. “You don’t need it. You want it.” The lesson issued through taut lips might have been my first introduction to the truth that words mean things.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, there’s also a big difference between being hungry and starving. He was right, of course. He provided for us so well that we had no way to comprehend the scarcity that dominated his childhood. We never went to sleep with calloused hands and empty stomachs. We didn’t have to watch our bone-thin mother fight the farm foreman to keep her hoes as he evicted us from our home. Since I’ve learned more about his life, it seems perfectly reasonable that it flew all over him when I told him I needed another Barbie or a pair of sandals just like my girlfriend had.
What made me think of all of this today? Looking at the last baby finch in the nest on our front porch. You totally get the connection, right? Alright . . . I’ll explain. Every year, I get really excited watching the birds around our home set up housekeeping, meticulously building nests in birdhouses, under eaves, or in the ferns on our front porch. I keep a lookout for their tiny eggs. When I see a parent bird fly into the nest with something wiggling in its mouth, I start checking on the babies.
Today, there is only one scraggly-looking baby finch in the fern, his tiny feathers still dotted with down. He completely fills the nest he once shared with three siblings. I thought for a moment that, if the finches were people, they would have built a bigger, better nest. Then I realized that finches have managed to proliferate for millenniums just fine. They build only what they need.
The last five months seem to have given a lot of perspective to the meaning of the word need. People who thought they needed to eat out discovered they can cook. Parents who thought their kids needed school buildings have soared (or at least muddled) through the end of the school year online. We’ve found out we don’t need malls, movie theaters, nail salons, and gyms for our survival. Yes, all of those things make our lives more comfortable and pleasurable and are necessary for our economy to thrive. I am more than ready to avail myself of all of them . . . well, except the gym.
I’m hopeful, though, that we’ll keep some of the simplicity thrust upon us as the ability to enjoy all of those luxuries come back. My best example of this is my grand-niece, Claire Elise. Her third birthday happened during the lockdown. This occasion normally would have involved a big party with friends and family and brightly-wrapped packages; this year, it was her mom and dad and cupcakes. I want you to watch her level of excitement as her parents sing to her. To me, this video is the definition of joy. If I’m ever moping because I can’t have something I want but don’t need in the future, I want this image to fight its way to the front of my memory. I hope it makes you smile.The last five months seem to have given a lot of perspective to the meaning of the word need. @proverbs279 — FB @reneehodgeswriter #ACFWBlogs #writetip #ACFWCommunity Click To Tweet
Renee Hodges blogs at www.sweetfriendship.life, has completed her first novel, Ona Mae’s Deli and Bait Shop, and is working on the next novel. For down time, she and her husband enjoy traveling, having friends over, and hanging out in their easy pants watching cop shows and cooking competitions.