What we Leave Unsaid
Thu, 09/10/2020 - 10:11am admin
A Column by Publisher Amanda Mendez
Amanda Mendez is the publisher and editor-in-chief at Howell County News. She and her husband, Ron, have owned the newspaper since 2019. She is an enthusiast of all things Ozarks and old-fashioned.
As we drove into town to start our day on Friday morning, the children and I were listening to music. It’s a favorite ritual of mine, sharing the music I love with them, all of us shouting along as the forest, homes, and fields flash by. This particular morning, we happened to be singing along to my favorite bluegrass band, Big Smith.
The track on the stereo was “Preacher,” a song whose refrain repeats the phrase, “I let a preacher talk to me tonight.” If you’re unfamiliar with Big Smith, I do recommend their music highly. Though they don’t perform as a group anymore, many of the musicians have continued their solo careers performing in and around Springfield. Like many of their originals, “Preacher” is an upbeat, strings-heavy good time.
As we were singing along, I happened to tune in to my five-year-old daughter’s voice, and started laughing so hard that I almost had to pull the car over. Apparently unfamiliar with the word, “preacher,” she was singing over and over with childlike gusto, “I let a creature talk to me tonight.”
Maybe you had to be there, but trust me, it was undeniably charming in the moment.
Her sweet and hilarious misunderstanding must stem from our family culture in which men of the cloth are most often referred to as priests, or pastors. As her family and introduction to the world, she hasn’t heard that word because we do not say it.
Honestly, it made me wonder what ELSE we don’t say that is shaping her view of the world. Taking into account our human failings, I would wager to guess that Ron and I do a fair job of monitoring what we say to our kids. We keep it age appropriate; we try (sometimes fail) to answer their never ending questions with patience; we make sure to use descriptive language about colors and shapes to progress their early education. I even speak French and Spanish to them.
But, what has haunted me this week is what I might be leaving unsaid despite my best intentions. What else will they go into the world unprepared for because I didn’t talk about it? Can I ever really say how much they mean to me? Can I ever make them understand how deeply loved they are?
In a week like the one we have had in Willow Springs, one filled with unexpected loss, I’m sure many of my friends and neighbors are also wondering what they are leaving unsaid with their loved ones.
I don’t have a neat bow to tie on the end of this story. Maybe there won’t be an answer to my questions this side of heaven. Maybe as a mother, it is simply not possible to say all the things to my children that I think they need to hear as many times as I think I need to say them. I’ll tell you one thing, though: it will not stop me from trying.