Funny story. About the time I was noticing a rose bush on the corner of my house start to pop a few weeks ago, our office manager – Amber – got a vase full of roses dropped off by her grandmother.

My grandparents built the house I live in and through the years added touches to the yard, including four rose bushes. Like the pear and pecan trees in the yard, they’re hit or miss some years as to how they’ll produce.

A couple of weeks later, Amber texted me to ask who used to live in my house and come to find out, her grandmother’s rose bush came from a clipping from one of my grandmother’s rose bushes.

When we interviewed office managers months ago, I’d never met or even heard of Amber but she knew exactly where I lived and said she used to see me mowing all the time when she lived not even a mile and a half up the road.

Again, I have no recollection of ever seeing her in those years.

When she texted me about the roses, I added another layer by telling her my grandfather was really good friends with our general manager – Emily’s – uncle, who lived right up the road years ago.

If it wasn’t for working together, chances are I’d have no clue who Emily and Amber are and I’m sure decades ago, our family members had no clue we’d all continue their relationships a couple of generations later.

I see it all the time with people – the adults are friends, and their kids who are close in age are friends. It’s strange now that with friends I grew up with who moved away, I talk to their parents on a regular basis.

In the short time I’ve spent living in a higher populated area, maybe 80 percent of my relationships came from the same small circle – school and work. For the rest of my life spent living in a couple of small towns, everyone is one or two degrees away from knowing each other.

You’re not going to know every single person you walk by at the grocery store, but the oddest of situations remind us of our connections.

I stopped to help a 16-year-old weeks ago who had a blowout and come to find out he is next door neighbors with one of my best friends eight miles up Highway 45.

I couldn’t tell you how many times one of my elders has come up to say “I knew you when you were this tall” pointing closer to their knees. I’ve caught myself a couple of times as one of those elders telling somebody the same thing.

Around here, it’s best to keep snide comments to yourself because you may not know who’s cousins with who or how somebody may go way back with somebody. Keeping your comments in check helps us coexist on a better accord.

We can move to another city or another state and hope for the same kind of connections and we can embrace those who move here from another city or another state to give them that same treatment.

A few years ago while on a mission trip to Central America, a few people from our church and a church in Columbus met up with members of Grace Bible Church of Oxford.

In conversation one day with the church’s pastor, he was talking to a couple of us and said, “Let’s do the Mississippi thing and see who all we know.” Come to find out, his father-in-law was one of my college professors.

Years later, I can still name drop those Grace Bible Church connections I made in Honduras to people I’ve met from Oxford and they know exactly who I’m talking about and share their own connections.

For as long as we’re Aberdeenians, Amorians, Smithvillians, Hamiltonians and Monroe Countians, we’re starting relationships and continuing connections. It’s the Mississippi thing to do.

It may take a vase full of roses or a story like “Back in the day, your mama or daddy did this….” to sometimes remind us that we’re all connected in one way or another. This Mississippi thing passes through the generations and continues to bloom and flourish.

RAY VAN DUSEN is the managing editor of the Monroe Journal. He can be reached at

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