Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Dodging Potholes

In Michigan people joke that there are two seasons:  Winter and Road Construction.  If winter ever evacuates, the road crews have job security to say the least.  While navigating the tire-wreaking moguls to pick up my daughters from school I thought about how metaphoric these roads are to life.  We drive down pathways wanting to go at our own pace hoping no one or nothing gets in our way.  Just down the road we may need to pull over to change a tire or suddenly stop for any number of interruptions.  No one knows what the future holds.  Thank God for Faith and Roadside Assistance (I have not needed the latter yet, thankfully)! 

Speaking of unexpectedness, I just finished reading the novel "Widow of the South" by Robert Hicks.  Typically I am not an avid reader and I have never been interested in reading about the gory details of the Civil War.  However, while we were vacationing in Tennessee a few weeks ago we took a wrong turn on our way to downtown Franklin and we stumbled upon the Carnton Plantation.  A beautiful Antebellum plantation.  I was curious to see the beautiful architecture and decorations inside, so we took a guided tour.  This hour long tour changed me.  It painted a picture of the Civil War that I have never before been able to imagine or grasp the details of.

This gorgeous home was the plantation of John and Carrie McGavock.  They were very wealthy and on November 30, 1864 the bloodiest five hours of the Civil War were fought on their land and their lovely home became a field hospital where they performed amputations and procedures in an attempt to spare lives.  The lady of the house, Carrie teamed up with two doctors. She cut up her fancy linens to make bandages, served food and drinks, and most importantly calmed the boys in a motherly fashion.  Every room in her house was full of injured Confederate soldiers and there were nearly 9,500 Confederate and Union soldiers dead outside.  The floors are still stained with blood today, 150 years later, which is incredibly heartbreaking to see. 

The McGavock's created a 2 acre cemetery on their land and buried 1,500 Confederate soldiers.  Maintaining the cemetery and communicating with the families of the fallen boys became Carrie's lifelong philanthropy.  Imagine if Carrie had "dodged the pothole" and told the General to lead his men elsewhere?  This battle changed the lives of this family and everyone who was involved.  For me, walking through this historic battlefield, cemetery, and home made it seem like 150 years was not so long ago.  This was an eye opening and very real experience for me to see, hear, and read about the details of this Battle of Franklin.

In Michigan as we continue to dodge potholes and move forward through the final weeks of a record-breaking, brutally cold and snowy winter, I look forward to warm sunshine, Spring blossoms, and smoother roads.  Tomorrow is never promised, but we must take comfort in the hope that we will navigate through the potholes being stronger on the other side.  Carrie McGavock to me is a symbol of bravery and compassion even throughout her darkest days and I felt compelled to share her story of strength and courage with you.

For more information visit the Carnton Plantation website

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