Recollections of My Life and Reflections on Times and Events During It: A Memoir by Father W. J. Howlett

Page 27

of life it was to that of a farmer, with an occasional season of teaching a country school thrown in. I did not have sense enought [enough] to know what a vocation to the clerical life was, and certainly felt no divine urge towards the altar. There were only the thoughts of which I have spoken on a previous page and vague hopes of my mother which never promised any chance of realization, and when my father decided to go farther west, even to the Rocky Mountains, these hazy prospects vanished into thin air. As for myself, I never was very sanguine of any special career and was satisfied to take hold of whatever presented itself. Just then it was my duty to go with my people and let the future take care of itself. I had an offer from a farmer to stay with him at good wages but that was not temptation for me to separate from my relatives. I could not entertain the thought. If anyone had ever thought that I had a vocation (and I do not know that anyone ever did), the idea now must have come that I was running away from it, but the sequel will show that I was running directly into one.

          Youth passes, and such were its days for me, and what is there in them to make me look back lingeringly and pleasantly to them? They were very ordinary days, just such as children around us are passing through today. We see little in them for the children, and they see but little in them when we ourselves were passing through them in our own life. But wait! There will come a time in the far dim future when those days will make an unexpected appeal and pull the mind and the heart back through the years, and these children will live them over again, as we of an earlier generation often go back in thought to live over days long past but not vanished. To us now, and to them later will come the appeal.

               “Backward, oh backward, turn Time, in your flight,
               Make me a child again, just for tonight” - 
[in] their hearts still can be heard the echo of the old song;

               “I wish I were a boy again,” - until the chapter closes with that other song:

               “Some day I’ll wander back again,” - and the weight of years will be lifted from them as it has from us on a similar occasion.

          It may be that this feeling is not in those who never leave the neighborhood of their boyhood experiences, but for them too there is a personal element if not a local, and they must con over the things gone by with more or less interest. A rare exception may be found as a missionary in Tennessee once related. He found an old man one evening sitting at the door of his cabin where everything looked as if it might have come down unchanged from his grandfather’s days, and he asked him how people spent their time in such lonely surroundings. The man answered: “Oh, sometimes sitting around and thinkin’, and sometimes just sittin around.” The real boy does not need to just sit around in his old age.”

          Some say when we grow reminiscent we are growing old. It is not necessarily so. It is truer to say we are growing older, and years are an essential element in reminiscence. In our younger days our minds are more easily and more deeply impressed. The mental matrix is plastic and receives the impress of events more readily.

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