‘Farther Along’ we’ll understand why

Published 3:00 am Saturday, April 25, 2015

One of the trademark songs of Louisiana’s Singing Governor Jimmie Davis was “Farther Along.” Mama sang it a lot, “Farther along, we’ll know all about it. Farther along we’ll understand why.”

I was sure the song wasn’t about bringing understanding to things I wanted to know about – things like where butterflies go when it rains and how my granny could be a nurse when she didn’t even go all the way through grammar school.

I never figured out about the butterflies but, farther along, Ruth Brock, who was Dr. Stroud Jackson’s nurse at his office in Clio for a hundred years, told me “all about it.”

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“Nowhere, honey,” she said when I asked where she went to nursing school. “I didn’t go to nursing school. I got all on my training on the job working for Dr. Jackson. I learned as I went.”

“Farther along,” Ruth Brock told me all about it.

Back then, if a lady had enough money to buy a white, starched uniform, white crepe-sole shoes and white stockings, she could be a nurse.

So, farther along, I understood why my granny never worked in hospitals, why she was a “private” nurse. And, she nursed for some of the most prominent, most influential, and most well-know people in the Wiregrass and in other high places. She even nursed the mother of one of our governors.

Farther along, I understood why my aunt would say, “Lord, Mother’s going to nurse them into their graves.”

Nurse Ruth Brock celebrated her 100th birthday Sunday at Elam Baptist Church and being there brought back memories of the tortured times I spent at the doctor’s office in Clio.

Mama was a disciple of Dr. Jackson. She believed if she could just hear his voice, she would be cured of whatever ailed her.

And, that was a good thing because we would sit in his packed office for hours, days and weeks without ever being called “back.”

Ruth, in her white, starched uniform, white crepe-sole shoes and white stockings, would slowly open the door to “the back,” and poke her head out.

In those days, there were two waiting rooms, one for “colored” and one for “white.” Ruth would lean out the door and look way over in the colored waiting room. Then, she would turn and look way over in the white waiting room. Then, she would close the door without calling one person “back.”

I figured she was looking to see how many people had heard Dr. Jackson’s voice from behind the sheetrock wall and had gone home healed. Or how many who had given up and gone home to heal themselves or just kill over and die.

Mama said it didn’t matter that Ruth never called anybody “back.” Most of the people in the waiting rooms weren’t sick anyhow. They were just there to visit.

But, coming home from Ruth’s 100th birthday celebration Sunday, I realized I had missed a “farther along” chance to ask her if she ever called anybody back to see the doctor. But, maybe, it’s better not to know “all about” everything. Maybe it’s just better to leave it to the lore of the land.