Her laughter tickles from the far reaches of my memory. It draws me through space and time to a black & white vignette of a country road, chicken house races, muscadine grapevines and an ill-fitted smokehouse never breached. Lazy Sundays were spent ’round the bend on Ollie Weaver Road. Barely traversed. Quiet as a church mouse.
Her house. Small in stature. Grandiose in the journal of my mind. It stands among a backdrop of blue-stained mountaintops and monumental pines, both native to these parts and all-too-often taken for granted, with scarce more than the bare necessities of modernity. The uneven walkway from mailbox to front door conjures many a sunny day lounging on the metal front porch glider, sipping sweet tea and breaking green beans. The family poodle, Puppy, and another unknown mixture, Cricket, jingle around our legs. Bouncing up and down, over and through. Begging for attention. It never occurred to me until this moment that this patchwork walkway was simply for retrieval of mail items. The driveway was in an altogether different direction and had no such walkway for visitors. Hmmm… 40 some odd years later, I wonder if this was by design.
The modest internal surroundings bring sighs of comfort and fragrant memories of country cookin’. In the living room a mantle of pictures pays homage to family memories and milestones. Marriages. Sporting events. Dance recitals. Children. Grandchildren. Rarely changing. Stamped in time. A crocheted afghan covers the plastic couch cover. Shade of greens, yellows, and browns carry me to my own living room and the many hours my mom spent twisting yarn over needle to complete this very item. I recall wanting her to teach me… for about a minute. By the window stands the turntable I do not recall ever being used. Yet, never collecting dust in their pristine surroundings. In the corner stands an end table, home to a powder blue clock whose hands of time seemed to move through molasses during our visits. I can still feel the round leather footstool beneath my small body as I lie in front of the Wonderful World of Disney, or Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, or Bonanza playing on the b&w television. I roll around the floor like a hamster on a wheel. Only on the outside of this leather spool. Forward. Back. Forward. Back. I must’ve made the adults crazy.
Entry into the dining area is greeted by more plastic covered furniture and the table for six that we crowded around each week. Her always waiting for her own meal until we had eaten. Memories of biscuits, gravy, squirrel, chicken, green beans, and a host of other southern delicacies invade my taste buds and immediately I begin to salivate. Instinct. Memory. It is so strong. I realize too many years too late just what heavenly food I must have missed in my immature love of Spaghetti-O’s and ignorance to my family’s futile attempts at expanding my palate. At least I can appreciate how wonderful it all must have tasted. I am saddened at the realization that I cheated myself of the memory. I recall another time. Same room. Just the two of us. She at her end seat. Me peering from behind. She has a box. It is filled with photos, letters, post cards. I am curious for some glimpse of history. She bestows a hair comb. One that is used to hold the hair in place, not merely to comb it out. It belonged to her mother. Whom I never met. I savor all such treasures. She, at this time, is penning a letter to her sister-in-law, Mozelle. Her penmanship is dainty, and curly, so very feminine. She divvies out a few photos. Father. Mother and child. Uncle, long since deceased and only a story in my mind. I add them to my string of paper memories. Grasping to feel connected to my make-believe history. Those moments alone. Just the two of us. They were so few and far between.
The memories of this feisty, happy, solitary matriarch of my clan are pushing their way to the surface these days. Many more are sure to arise as I continue to dust the cobwebs and unearth long forgotten snapshots… more to come…
Love & Light