Tuesday, June 18th, 2024

R Relationships by Dr. Bill Austin
Creating Your Own Union City


One of my favorite memories is of going to my grandparents' home in Union City, a small town in Tennessee. It was the town where my parents grew up and got married. The trees overlapped the streets, and the houses had front porches where people sat and visited with those passing by. We loved going to town, which consisted of two movie theatres, a drugstore where my father, as a teenager, used to make milkshakes for my mother, and a courthouse in the middle of a plaza with a street circling it.

My favorite room in my grandparents' home was the kitchen. The kitchen, not the living room, was the gathering place for the family. In the kitchen was a large round table with a small rectangular table over to the side. The adults ate at the round table while the children ate at the small table. As children, we knew when we had come of age when we were finally invited to eat at the round table!
Granddad had his special chair. Around the round table sat my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and family. At this table, I learned about family history and how to listen, communicate, and relate to others. Connecting around this table was a wonderful experience. After the meal, we would go into the "little kitchen" to get the pies my grandmother had made and stored in a pie safe. The "little kitchen" was always cold in the winter, so it was a good place to store food.

At this table, I learned about family history
and how to listen, communicate, and relate to others.

At night, my brother, I, and our parents would sleep in the front room. In the wintertime, Granddad had a coal-burning fireplace going. It gave off heat until the fire went out early in the morning. Yet, we were still warm because we were sleeping in a feather bed with Grandmother's handmade quilts covering us. In the morning, we could smell the aroma of breakfast cooking: biscuits made from scratch, country hams that Granddad had salt-cured, and eggs.

In summer, there was no air conditioning, so we slept with the windows open. And because they were open, we could hear the night creatures as well as Granddad sitting on his porch swing telling his stories. Most of the stories were about his growing up on a farm with his brothers. Later on at night, we could hear a train passing through the small town. I loved to listen to the train horn blow as it warned everyone of its coming.

In a society dominated by technology, we need to create our own Union City-a meeting place where we can connect and communicate face-to-face in a way that forms lasting memories and community.

Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through www.amazon.com.

Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700