Visiting–An Appalachian Way of Life

VisitingI’m worried that the art of visiting is drifting into obscurity. I was writing a scene earlier this week and a character invited guests to “come in and sit a spell.” This was a common phrase when I was growing up. Even if you were just dropping something off, hurrying on to your next appointment, you’d get invited to come in and visit.

On Sunday afternoons, Dad would often load us up in the car and we’d go visiting. We’d go see my great-aunt and uncle or my grandmother. Sometimes we’d stop by Aunt Bess’ or Gail Phillips’. All kin of a sort. Generally, my brothers and I would head off somewhere to play while the adults visited.

Then there was “visitation” at funerals. This was often the evening before the actual funeral. Family would go to the funeral home and receive anyone who wanted to come pay their respects. It usually lasted a couple of hours and someone would always look in the casket and say, “Don’t he look natural.” Visitation still happens, but it too, seems to be fading away.

And I think, what it boils down to, is that we just don’t take the time anymore. We pack our schedules so full, there isn’t time to sit on the front porch with a neighbor and watch the fireflies come out. Pardon me, lightning bugs. We’re too busy to go sit in the living room and eat pound cake with the old folks.

And as a result, we’re losing a treasure. It’s just one more way we’re losing our connections with people. You know, the actual people you can reach out and put an arm around, kiss on the cheek, and hug.

Sometimes Thistle and I walk up the street and visit a friend and her three children. Visits don’t usually last long–just long enough for Thistle to clean the crumbs from under the high chair, for the kids to get plenty of puppy dog kisses, and for my friend and I to solve one or two world problems. Then we come home–Thistle to her chair and me to my busy schedule. And we’re both the richer for it.

14 thoughts on “Visiting–An Appalachian Way of Life

  1. Terry

    Your Dad and I talk about this subject often, and he is very adamant about the fact that the internet world, e-mail, texting, etc. are all part of the “dis-connection” between humans. He tells me stories about his past, which enable me to understand quite fully your article and opinion about this subject! I agree as well, although my upbringing wasn’t community- and family-oriented like his was (and yours was as a result)!

  2. Buffy White

    Visiting is very much a part of life in S. America. But not being brought up to it, we had trouble knowing when to drop in, how long to stay, etc. It’s definitely an art, and varies with the culture. It’s definitely from a slower-paced time! We are learning to do it in a different context now–pastoral visits! So far it’s been a huge blessing for us.

  3. Beth Almond Ford

    So many precious memories of visiting with the ‘old’ folks…..My mother would ‘make me’ take her beautiful cut flowers (put in a tin can), along with an “Upper Room” devotional – and drop them off for the shut-ins. Of course I’d always be invited in, I’d always do it…..and I’ll always be thankful for those times. Thanks, Sarah, for your piece.

  4. You’re right – we generally pack our schedules so tightly, that we have to watch the clock – and so do the people we visit. Somehow “American Idol” has become more important than the people in our own neighborhood.

    One unlikely area where visitation still thrives is in the ‘hood. In places where gangs are the law, personal connections are vital for acceptance, and, indeed, survival. So these brethren take the time to spend time together. I’m not sure what we can learn from this, except perhaps that we’ve insulated ourselves from the meat and bone of life to the point where the virtual reality of our computers and ‘home media’ have become more important than flesh and blood.

  5. In our small Ohio town, people used to walk, going nowhere in particular, just walk–usually on Sunday afternoon. Porch-sitters would say, “Hello, how are you?” and often the walkers would end up on the porch. Another communication would occur at the back fence or the edge of the property–women hanging the wash, men digging in the garden. That way, we knew how everything was going in the neighborhood and town, and we could help or be helped. We kids would roller skate or ride bikes to see our friends, play games or swing on their swing. Lovely times.

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