The Farm Chronicles: Runaway

Long before it became fashionable for football players to wear pink during breast cancer awareness month, it was considered less than manly to wear any form of pink, double that on the football field. And this is the back story about the only time I ever ran away from home. It began in September of my freshman year in high school. My grandmother Humble, my mother’s mother, came to visit. Grandma was a wonderful person. Everyone loved her. She and Grandpa lived in Arizona, so she was up to Ohio to visit with many family members. Grandma was matronly, joyful, loved the Lord, very backwoods kind of country and she made everyone feel that they were a welcome part of the family.

Grandma also liked to pull her weight. She wasn’t happy just sitting around gabbing. She had to be cleaning, washing, baking, folding clothes, ironing clothes—something. Her sugar cookies were to die for, yet she always excused their lack of perfection because she could never get used to the new-fangled electric ovens. Grandma always had something to say. And after a while, all the goodness and advice and constant busyness started to get on my nerves. She would often talk, but not always listen. She insisted on doing the wash to help Mom. Mom knew how to wash my football uniform before a game. I tried to tell Grandma. Wash just the jersey and pants alone, nothing else.

Well, the day before the game, Grandma was folding the wash and handed me my football uniform. The really cool white sleeves with the Jolly Roger skull and crossbones (we were the Pirates) sown into the sides, was pink. IT WAS PINK. I kind of flipped out. Grandma said she saw that my old red cotton sweat pants needed washed so she just threw them in with the uniform. I was beside myself. Mom tried washing the jersey several more times. No luck. It was still pink. I can’t remember what I said to Grandma, but it wasn’t a very nice rant. And she just kept smiling at me and saying that it’s not as big of deal as I was making it and that everything would be OK, which made me even madder.

I was so distraught. Wearing that jersey to school the next day would suffer me ruthless harassment. I saddled up my horse and decided to run away from home. I had ridden down the road a long while and it was getting dark. I was thinking a lot and that verse kept popping up from Ephesians 6:2, “Honor thy father and mother.” And I kept arguing with myself whether that included grandmothers. Finally, I admitted that it did. I turned the horse around and apologized when I got home. And Grandma apologized to me. All was well. Except I took a lot of ribbing about that pink sleeved football jersey the next day. I think Coach Betts took pity on me and gave me another jersey before things got too out of hand. And we won the game, which also turns sarcastic ribbing into good-natured ribbing. That was the only time I ran away from home.

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Bill Wilson