Thomas Edison once said “there is no substitute for hard work”. I agree with that 100%. I can relate this to my choir class. A student can have tons of talent and talent is important, but if they don’t work hard…talent can only get you so far.

There are many other things in life, however, that have “no substitutes.” My daughter, daughter-in-law, and others I know have made the online “hit list” for groceries. Sometimes substitutions are made and they’re not that bad. But, the supply chain being what it is today, some substitutions just aren’t the same. Example: if I have saltine crackers on my list, I don’t want “wheat legumes” as a substitute. Yes, they’re both crackers, but I’m not going to eat wheat flour with my chili, I’m just saying!

Substitute teachers. Not all are the same. Some substitutes I’ve had over the past few years have been fantastic. But others… not so fantastic. I leave detailed lesson plans behind when I go out, and they’re easy to follow. I’ve had a few substitute teachers who felt they didn’t need to do what I left to the students; they wanted to sail in their own waters and in their own direction, and that’s not working out very well either.

Substitution, according to Webster’s Dictionary, is defined as the action of replacing someone or something with another person or thing. Here are a few personal things that there will never be a substitute for:

The smell and taste of Mamaw’s Buttermilk Cookies and Fried Potatoes. Yes, I’ve had some good cookies in my day and I enjoy and make fried potatoes, but none came close to Mamaw’s. I even tried frying the potatoes EXACTLY the way she did, but there was something about her stove, her skillet, the temperature of her fat…mine aren’t everything just not the same.

The smell and sound of bees working in the wisteria on the way between our house and the Mongoes’ house. When the wisteria was in full bloom, I walked through the pasture to my grandmother’s house, and there was a natural arch of wisteria on the way. I was walking through it and it was like stepping into the “secret garden” or something. You could stop and smell the wonderful scent of the flowers and hear the bees buzzing. I’ve smelled a lot of wisteria since then, but none seem as sweet as wisteria on this trail.

A crackling fire in the wood stove that was in my parents’ “old house”. This house must have been torn down decades ago, and they have the same stove in their house that they live in now. But the fires are just not the same. I think it’s the memorabilia that comes with the stove that was in the ‘old house’ that makes it more special. Some would say “a fireplace is a fireplace”, but I disagree. The stove is not strictly speaking a substitute, but the “house” part is. I grew up in the ‘old house’, and nothing will ever replace that.

Driving a four-wheeled vehicle through a pasture in the fall is no substitute for a fall hay ride – a tractor-drawn hay wagon. Hiring someone to rake your leaves is no substitute for raking the leaves yourself and then smelling the glorious smell of scorched leaves on a cool fall afternoon. Eating vegetables in a cafeteria or restaurant will never replace the taste of homemade vegetables freshly picked from your own garden. Singing with other talented musicians will never replace singing as a family.

The things we experience in life can all be “memory makers”; some pleasant, some not so much. And, as progress is made from generation to generation, things can get better and better. But, for some of us “old people”…there are things that just can’t be replaced, and for that, I’m thankful, thankful, and blessed.

– Dawn Dillard is a proud East Texas girl who loves all things South, especially food, music, and family. She can be contacted by email at [email protected]