Friday, August 26, 2011



It goes without saying that our grandparents had been unhappy when our mother eloped with a handsome, itinerant widower/preacher who had a large brood of children of his own. It certainly hadn't helped that he was not of their staunch Methodist faith and had introduced her to a foreign, radical, pentecostal way of worship. It was difficult for her to seek shelter back in her parents' home and to relinquish some degree of her independence in the rearing of her four girls. But the malaria had taken its toll, and she had no other choice but to return there. Our Aunt Nina, her older sister, and Uncle George became her caretakers as she recovered her health; the two sisters remained uniquely dedicated to each other for all their lives both living into their 90s.  

And so, we lived with our grandparents for some two-and-a-half years in Pickens, South Carolina in the Mount Bethel Methodist Church community where we attended church.  It was a quite wonderful time for us children.  There were many aunts and uncles and cousins by the dozens who alternately made our lives wonderful and miserable.  They delighted in teasing and playing tricks on us.  

Grandpa had a huge old tom turkey who loved to strut his stuff in the backyard.  He owned the whole of the outdoors, getting along pretty well with the rest of the family but, for whatever reason, not me.  Whenever I stepped off the back porch, the chase was on and didn't end until I was chased back onto the porch and escaped with my life into the house.  This provided much laughter at my expense and there was no empathy forthcoming.

The love our large, extended family lavished on us was immense. A gospel singing family, they educated us in music and laughter that would stay with us for a lifetime. They taught us how to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and get going again when life gave us a tumble. We were well-served with their teachinigs.

Thursday, August 18, 2011



She gave her heart away today,
She'd given all she could.
Simply slipped into eternal sleep,
And God said, "This is good."

She was beautiful to the end,
Who'd want it any other way?
Why live, when beauty would be no more,
And suffering would have its say.

Tears seem useless, with a life fulfilled;
God spoke the final word.
Let us not grieve because she's gone,
She went to heaven in God's will.

So now the sisters, minus one
Must forge ahead and find their way.
God has spoken, and death has come;
Life continues, and God holds sway.

For life, for joy, for deeds well done,
We thank you, God, all three as one;
For the loving years we had as sisters,
We grieve not now, but we'll surely miss her.

In tribute to my beloved sister, Earlene, by Estelle Jenkins, August 18, 2011

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Where does one begin to share his or her life?  In our family, so many people had such a great impact; it is hard to know where to begin.  So, I’ll just jump ahead a bit so that you will know why we arrived at where and who we are as a family.

My father and mother were evangelists who frequently traveled between upstate South Carolina and Florida in the Lake Okeechobee area where, during the winter months, they would work for farmers in the bean fields.  It was on one of their returns to South Carolina, while traveling through the low state area, that my father contracted malaria and died, leaving my mother and four small daughters stranded on the road.  The youngest was six months old.

We were transported in the hearse, which came for my father, to my grandparents' home in Pickens where we lived for some two years in the Mount Bethel Methodist Church community.

So, my stories will share with you the hardships, as well as the joys, of growing up in a house full of girls.

Friday, July 29, 2011


Today I share my thoughts on what I believe to be the only salvation for the United States - a return to the sacredness of marriage and the responsible rearing and nurturing of children under a Biblical worldview!

Our family has been wonderfully blessed to have a rich heritage of Christian upbringing supported by conservative values and little gray area in our beliefs. We are independent thinkers, fun-loving individuals who make our mistakes and learn from them. In this forum I will in the days ahead introduce to you various members of our family and share some of the joys as well as a bit of humor that we had as children, in becoming parents, grandparents and great grandparents, also welcoming newly blended families into ours. Our family circle is large, multi-ethnic and we share a mutual respect for ethnic diversity and points of view.

It is our hope that you will laugh with us, cry with us and allow us to be an inspiration to your family in these, America's most difficult and demanding times. I invite you to share in our stories and offer yours as we all tread the waters of fear and cynicism for the days that lie ahead of us.

This is the first day of our journey together! Let's make it fun.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


The Benjamin home, we called this place. A large pasture provided new and exciting places to explore and occasionally would turn up a treasured item with which to play. A favorite one, I recall, was an old discarded wood stove. We worked hard to drag it from a good distance away into our playhouse area that we had “built” with rocks and whatever else we could find.

It was at this home that we received one of our most favorite pets -- a goat. Our half-brother who visited with us from time to time gave it to us. In the mornings, the goat would go under the house and butt his head against the floor to wake us up. We would go out and feed him, then would play the day away chasing, and being chased.

A large ditch ran the length of the front of this house and beside it stood a tree that, in the fall, would shower down its leaves of yellow and red. It was our chore to rake the leaves from the yard into the ditch. This “chore” provided play for hours on end.


The scruffiest tree one might ever see,
It stood just inside of the fence.
Its leaves fluttered down and caused Mother to frown
As the pile became quite immense.

Taking wing without sound, the leaves covered the ground
'til the ground became yellow and red;
Then out came the brooms and, swept into a mound,
The leaves made a wonderful bed.

To the ditch the leaves went, then the children, intent
Taking turns, they ran and they jumped.
They tossed and they tumbled, they giggled and rumbled,
One might say the children were pumped.

The leaves became scattered, but little it mattered
Their laughter sent waves of pure joy.
And Mother was pleased to bask in the breeze
While the children played happily sans toys.

O, where did it go, the time and the place
Where children could make their own fun?
Plant a tree, if you please, and give children release
To play in fresh air and the sun.

In our world, play was what you could make of it, and play we did!

In our world, play was what you could make of it, and play we did!

Thursday, March 17, 2011


How could this be?  Two years I’ve been away.  What happened?

The last two years have been interesting, to say the least.  In the interim I have had two total knee replacements, have enjoyed some (forced) quiet time, done some studying and, in general, life has moved at a slowed pace.  My surgeries and recuperation have greatly improved my mobility and I have now resumed a near normal lifestyle. 

Being quiet is not a bad thing.

Our family has grown by three great-grands, two boys and a girl, and we’re expecting a third girl in a few days. 

We anxiously watch the daily news as we follow the events in Japan where we have a granddaughter living through the nightmare of the mammoth earthquake and tsunami.  She and her Navy husband are finishing out a tour of duty there, soon to be returned stateside.  How we wish that had happened sooner.  So far, she is fine although she is quite anxious as the aftershocks continue to come.

Spring has come to Florida and the plants are flourishing.  Azaleas, dogwoods and Bradford pear trees have exploded with pink and white color to awaken our senses after the long winter chill.   We experienced the coldest winter on record, I believe, certainly since we came here from South Carolina in ‘71.  Hard to believe we’ve spent over half our lives here and yet still feel so very close to SC.  Great family and great friends never grow distant.  God is good!

So as I begin anew to open my life experiences up to you, I trust that something I might share will lend encouragement and inspiration to your life.