Selected Samples of Adam's writing...

NH Union Leader - April 30th, 2009

 "Adversity isn't just a hurdle, it's also a building block"

    I'm in my yard, pounding makeshift stakes for a makeshift fence into a makeshift garden when a picture of my father comes into my mind. He's tilling the garden. Carefully, he walks to the side of the old rear-tine tiller, as the old earth meets the air, soft and ready for the seeds he will plant later that afternoon. I'm about six or seven in this mental image and I don't realize how poor we are.
I'm thinking about those days more and more now. I've been out of full time employment, it's benefeits, and my old co-workers since February. The ground was hard and cold and covered in snow then. Now, it's soft and wet and renewed with the hopes of Spring.
The stakes I'm pounding are new, but the fence is most certainly not. In fact, I would say it's at least 10 years old, maybe more. I scavenged it while driving by a house on Ciley Road a few weeks back. A year ago, I might not have been so bold as to knock on the door and ask "what's the story with the fence panels?" But this is different. This year we widened the garden, then added another, and another. There is more riding on these gardens now. It's a way to save money. It's a promise to my family that we will see throught this economic storm no matter how long it lasts.
I think of this as I pound in the stakes for the fence. I think of my father and his tiller and myself and my tiller and my son watching me. The work is clean, and the pain I feel in my muscles and joints reminds me of the good thing I'm doing. I think of my family history, how my ancestors endured so much. How my great-grandmother faced the Great Depression alone, a divorced mother of two kids, de-barking downed trees for loggers in the Wisconsin woods so her children would eat.
I think of her son, my grandfather, who told me about how they moved from place to place when he was a child. Missouri, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Wyoming, where his father would work as a foreman on the infamous Teapot Dome oil line. I think of how his uncle being a baker helped them through as he lived on fried flour and water. Later, my great-grandmother and her two children would finally stop their furious moving pace. They settled in Wisconsin, closer to her mother. My grandfather and father, perhaps as a psychological result of this constant motion, still live in that same county, two miles apart.
I've finally figured out what my father taught me about perserverance. Adversity isn't a hurdle, it's a building block in our lives. To be a "McCune" is to perservere. I'm humbled by what my ancestors endured and their tired old lessons won't be forgotten. They say that those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it. Some of the steps I'm taking are repetitions of the steps my great-grandmother has taken, or traces in the ghosts of my father's footprints. I don't see this redundancy as a curse or condemnation, but a way to honor them.
My great-grandmother was a bulky woman. She was a trooper and a fighter. I spent the better part of my childhood visits with her being very afraid of her presence. She was loud, but would talk in hushed tones around my great aunt. The two of them would talk like friends gossiping about things unknown to me.
My great-grandmother would remarry, with the stigma of a 1920's divorce apparently lifted, she started over. She was generally happy, smiling as she handed us a jar of apple-butter whenever we were leaving. There was something still that struck me about her when we saw her. I now know this for what it was; stubborness. In that sense, she was an old mule, letting family secrets die with her. Perhaps those secrets were too painful to talk about. I can't help but wonder what missing parts of my history are out there.
I've heard stories of what other people are going through as we all face this economy together. Most of the stories are about situations far worse than ours. We have a house, we have some money coming in, we have our health and now we have a beautiful garden... or three. And for all of that I'm thankful.
As I pound the last stake for my crooked, rickety fence, I noticed my two year old staring at me in wonder. He's learning the lessons I've learned and he's taking mental notes. Someday he will hear about his great-great-grandmother. He'll hear stories about a time that will seem foreign to him, and names of people he'll never see. We'll go over worn photographs of ancient faces. He won't know what it all means until one day when he's standing in his own garden with his own son thinking about the garden his father poured his heart into during the summers of his youth. Maybe then it will dawn on him what it all means: We are all going to be okay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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