Posts tagged Write on Edge

Fresh Flowers on the Grave

 

 

Image courtesy of Unsplash.

 

I walked up the hill as I so often did. My 15-year-old son rested there with a black obsidian stone that we had ordered from Africa standing guard. Many people had left mementos over the 7 ½ years since that night of hell when we lost him. There were tiny figurines, glass etchings, a link of chains with the number of people who were supposed to be in our family, notes, items from his favorite ball teams. Then, along with Christmas ornaments and coins, we kept a vase of artificial flowers.

Ironically, I often found black widow spiders on the flowers or near the stone. Since I study arachnids, it was like a special message from me-one that spoke of the anger we both felt from the loss of his life through mistakes and excuses. When I looked at other graves in the large cemetery, I found only one other place with a black widow spider-my mother’s grave.

As I walked up the hill on this early summer day, I noticed a new container of flowers sitting in front of the stone. They were light orange with delicate leaves dancing in the breeze. As I reached the grave, I realized that the flowers were fresh. It was unusual to find fresh flowers on a grave that was not a new grave because they do not last long in the heat and wind.

I knelt down to look at a small note attached to the vase that held the flowers. On the front , I could see a set of fading initials-it had rained the night before and I couldn’t read them. As I turned the little note over, I saw a delicate pink heart. I smiled. He never got the chance to experience true love, but after all these years, someone still loved him, thought of him. Without coming to a conclusion about who the flowers were from, I smiled, ran my fingers across his name as I always did and knelt down by the stone, whispering, “I love you.”

I was reminded of something my grandfather used to tell me. “As long as someone loves you, and remembers what you loved and dreamed, you will never be forgotten.” The scent of fresh flowers wafted in the air. For just a moment, I was with him and this time, we were not alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Memories from Log Cabin Kitchens

 

 

I could smell the fragrance of the thick molasses all the way in the upstairs room my brother and I shared. My grandpa’s molasses making trays and tools were still tucked under the shed, waiting to be washed today before the bugs went crazy.

The lightning storm that had crept up suddenly the night before had almost ruined this years molasses run, be together, our neighbors, my father and brother finished the load.

I don’t think any one who has never gone through the grinding of cane stalks, the shuttling of the sugary fluid through the zig-zag trays, or stood sweating in the August heat should be allowed to savor the incomparable taste of warm biscuits slathered in molasses!

When we were young, our family had a joke. If you asked for ‘lasses, that meant that you were asking for your first serving. If you anted a second service you asked for “molasses!”.

Not many people get to see the metal trays set up for molasses making these days They didn’t see horses turning the machine that grinds the stalks of sugar cane, they don’t watch the paddle moving the molasses along the divided trays above the flames. Indeed the love of molasses has nearly disappeared in some areas.

Oh, go on to thee store, buy a bottle and try to imagine the making of molasses I have described, use the little honey stirring devise to drizzle the molasses on your canned biscuits. I guarantee, you will get a glimpse of the way grandpa make then as you close your eyes and savor the first bite!

 

 

 

 

 

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Cooking from the Grain to the Table

 

Mo’lasses!

I could smell the fragrance of the thick molasses all the way in the upstairs room my brother and I shared. My grandpa’s molasses making trays and tools were still tucked under the shed, waiting to be washed today before the bugs went crazy

The lightning storm that had crept up suddenly the night before had almost ruined this years molasses run, be together, our neighbors, my father and brother finished the load.

I don’t think any one who has never gone through the grinding of cane stalks, the shuttling of the sugary fluid through the zig-zag trays, or stood sweating in the August heat should be allowed to savor the incomparable taste of warm biscuits slathered in molasses!

When we were young, our family had a joke. If you asked for ‘lasses, that meant that you were asking for your first serving. If you wanted a second service you asked for “molasses!”.

Not many people get to see the metal trays set up for molasses making these days They done see horses turning the machine that grinds the stalks of sugar cane, they don’t watch the paddle moving the molasses along the divided trays above the flames. Indeed the love of molasses has nearly disappeared in some areas.

Oh, go on to the store, buy a bottle and try to imagine the making of molasses I have described, use the little honey stirring device to drizzle the molasses on your canned biscuits. I guarantee, you will get a glimpse of the way grandpa make then as you close your eyes and savor the first bite!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I could smell the fragrance of the thick molasses all the way in the upstairs room my brother and I shared. My grandpa’s molasses making trays and tools were still tucked under the shed, waiting to be washed today before the bugs went crazy

 

The lightning storm that had crept up suddenly the night before had almost ruined this years molasses run, be together, our neighbors, my father and brother finished the load.

 

I don’t think any one who has never gone through the grinding of cane stalks, the shuttling of the sugary fluid through the zig-zag trays, or stood sweating in the August heat should be allowed to savor the incomparable taste of warm biscuits slathered in molasses!

 

When we were young, our family had a joke. If you asked for ‘lasses, that meant that you were asking for your first serving. If you anted a second service you asked for “molasses!”.

 

Not many people get to see the metal trays set up for molasses making these days They done see horses turning the machine that grinds the stalks of sugar cane, they don’t watch the paddle moving the molasses along the divided trays above the flames. Indeed the love of molasses has nearly disappeared in some areas.

 

Oh, go on to thee store, buy a bottle and try to imagine the making of molasses I have described, use the little honey stirring devise to drizzle the molasses on your canned biscuits. I guarantee, you will get a glimpse of the way grandpa make then as you close your eyes and savor the first bite!

 

 

 

 

 

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Winter’s Fate

She wiped the tears upon her dress.

“I’ll take no more.” She did confess.

As he stood staring at the sky. He whispered to her, “Darling, why?”

“You leave when autumn’s just begun with furs, and grains and many guns. You stay until the melting snow drives you back home, more crops to grow.”

“I must.” he told her, gun in hand. “to sell our furs and crops again.”

“It does not take four months of cold to travel there and back, I’m told.”She glared at him with angry eyes as clouds approached in autumn’s skies.

“But weather makes the trip back home to dangerous to make alone.” She listened not to his protest, and brushed the dust from her worn dress.

“The children need you, so do I.  I cannot bear to watch one die, the way I did this season past, with no one here to help the rest.”

“I know.” He bowed his ruddy head. “I’ll find some other way instead.”

“John Griffith takes the trail nearby.” She told him through her misty eyes.

“Then I will ask if he will go, with me, through ice and cold and snow.” He walked to her, the children came. They gathered there, out of the rain.

“Tomorrow, I will go to town and look until I hunt him down.” He smiled and drew her near his chest.

She felt the heat of his warm breath, and knew this winter, they would stay, but not alone, sick and afraid.

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Mission Acomplished!

He woke up with a startled jerk. “Where the hell am I?” he thought.

 Realizing that he knew noting of his situation, he closed his eyes to a squint and played dead or at least asleep. Around him, he saw white sandstone walls, it reminded him of photos of terrorists camps hat he had seen on TV.

 He heard voices-foreign voices coming from the other side of he walls. Through a partially opened gate, he saw a group of men, dress in similar outfits, again, similar to those he had seen on news reports from new reports.

 He tried to listen for any word he might understand, any clue to where he might be, or why. He could hear the foreign voices, shouting, perhaps arguing, then, suddenly, one group disappeared around a corner out of his range of sight or hearing.

 Slowly, he rolled slightly to the left and observed a grove of trees surrounding the walls. He didn’t recognize the kind of tree, but the sky was soft blue, dimmed by a layer of thin clouds. No rain in sight, it seemed.

 He heard the sound of footsteps approaching and assumed his position of unconsciousness as they drew nearer.

 “I think we got ’em” whispered a voice in English. Not American-type English, but European or Australian, he didn’t know which.

 His heart was beating out of his chest, yet he forced himself to breathe slowly and remain still.

 Out of the corner of his eye, he saw that one of he men had rounded he crumbling corner of the sandstone wall and spotted him. What should he do? His had could just reach his ankle, and he felt for the knife he always carried strapped to his leg. Good, it was there.

 “Good Lord!” said one of the voices as it gave him a gentle kick on the back. “I think its him!”

“Hey, Marcus, is that you?” The voice said. Marcus squinted and looked at the face hovering over him.

 Marcus nodded slowly, uncertainly.

“Well, I’ll be damned!” he laughed, “We did it.” We found the crazy bastard!”

 Just then, a loud explosion went off a few hundred yards from the walls. Marcus heard the sound of a helicopter landing on the other side of the grove of trees. A shout of joy went up among the men,as they lead Marcus to the helicopter and pushed him aboard.

 “Have you got it?” asked the taller of the men. Marcus felt a heaviness in his pocket and nodded, handing in to the man, with a smile. Suddenly, he remembered his mission, his last thought, and sighed with both relief and pride. He never said a word as they patted him on the back and welcomed him “home.”

 All he could think about was Wisconsin, his wife and young boy, and how nice that job at the training school sounded.

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Night Sky

She sat in the dim light of the moon and stars, looking – no- pondering the thoughts that entered her mind as she thought of the memories that the scene brought to her.

It was a summer night at the beach. She and her father had brought towels and laid in the sand, listening to the thunder of the waves and the sharp wind It made talking nearly impossible. They had simply, quietly taken in the majesty of the night sky against the backdrop of the wild yet calming ocean.

She was fifteen and her mother had died of cancer three months before. In what he had thought was a futile effort to help her heal, her dad had brought her to the place. It had been her favorite place to spend with her mom. His friends had thought that he was crazy, opening that wound and watching it bleed, but he knew better, had experienced something much like it in his young years.

She felt his strong hand grip hers and hold it gently as tears flowed down her cheeks and rolled onto the towel. He let her lie there until she sat up and picked up the box. In it were her mother’s ashes. He stood up and grabbed her hand to help her stand.

He took the box and they walked hand in hand to the edge of the water where the tide was going out. He lifted the lid from the box and they each gently took a small portion of ashes, strewing them into the waves.

“I love you, mom,” she whispered. “Julie, you were my life’s great love.” Dad said quietly as he, too scattered some ashes. Dad handed her the box and she let out a pain-filled poignant yell as she twirled and let the rest of the ashes float away in the waves as they tickled her toes.

She ran into her father’s arms and sobbed. He spoke not a word. Soon, they were walking down the shore with the midnight stars sparkling above them.

No, it didn’t heal her pain, but it allowed he to share it with the only other person who was hurting as much as she was. Forever, this would be a sacred place. One that they would visit often, maybe light a candle and sit and cry.

Her father knew that sharing grief was even more important than sharing joy. Even though the ashes and the ocean brought back his own grief of his father’s death in Viet Nam, he remembered how his mom had put aside her pain to let him have a time, a place to remember him and their days together.

They walked into thee darkness together, a cloud covering up the fullness of the moon.

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If You Can’t Say Anything nice…

Grandma looked at me sternly, as I stomped into her kitchen, mumbling in a voice I did not think she could 78260103hear. “That stupid Melonie!” I muttered. “She thinks she is so perfect, queen of the world!”

I grabbed a cold Coke from her refrigerator. Its pale green bottle made my mouth water after a tiring day at the high school.

Grandma stood up and walked over to me. “What is the matter with you, young lady? You know what I have always told you. ‘If you can’t say anything nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.”

“Well, I certainly couldn’t think of anything nice to say about Melodie!” I exclaimed. She is a bully, she teases kids that don’t have as nice of clothes as she does, or aren’t as pretty, or popular. I hate her!”

Grandma pulled up a chair beside me and sat down as I picked up my drink. The checkered tablecloth held a wet spot where the drink had moisture running down its side. I found myself using my index finger to trace the circle, over and over. I knew Grandma was right and she had told me, over and over not to speak badly of anyone since I was a little child. I as ashamed.

Who was this Melodie treating like that? Grandma said to me, her hand on my shoulder.

Everone.” I said with a hiss in my voice. “It especially bothers me when she picks on kids who already have low self-esteem or can’t buy nice clothes. I wish she could spend just one day not being ‘Miss Rich and Beautiful’ and learn what it feels like.

I though of Grandma’s quote about not saying anything at all if you can’t say something nice. I couldn’t imagine myself going up to Melodie and saying what Grandma suggested. It just didn’t seems strong enough somehow.

Then I remembered a quote I had read in literature class, just that day. I recalled days of sitting in the warm breeze on the beach and writing things in the sand that were bothering me, and watching the waves crash in and take them away. I decided to do something a little bit more my style. I Tomorrow, I would write a note, fold it, and put it on her desk before she came in. It would say something about her attitude and she would not know who had said it. It had come from our literature book, just a few days ago. I liked it, I had made a point to remember it because it reminded me of Grandma’s saying. It said, simply,

If you must speak ill of another, do not speak it, write it in the sand near the water’s edge.”
by Napolean Hill

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Brave Souls

I felt my whole body shiver as the wind pushed me towards the white cliff only yards ahead.

It was early September, and unlike the beaches I was accustomed to back in South Carolina, the white emptiness seemed to swallow me up as I looked out upon the vast sea that separated me from my home.

“Why had I come here?” I asked myself as I turned quickly towards what I felt was more steady ground.

“What had drawn me from my home, still summer-like, warm and welcoming, back to this dreary place where so much had happened in the years long past?”

 I felt the wind whip my hair, just as it did on the beaches at home, and tied it in a knot, so as not to find it filled with tangles. Back home, my curls would have danced in the heat of the sun, the glimmer of sand in the early evening sparkling like diamonds amidst the scattered shells.

I wondered what they called this place where the earth dropped off so violently to the sea. I could not, for the life of me, remember. Surely, it couldn’t be called ‘a beach’, as we called it back home. There was no beach, no glistening sand, no shells or sharks teeth to pick up as souvenirs. Only a harsh, sharp shrub, blown towards the sea, like a withered old man.

I felt my scarf swirl around my neck as I headed down the winding trail to the hut made of stone and partially covered by a roof of thatched straw and branches. The memories rushed back to me as the shadow from the house made the chill of the wind even stronger.

I remembered clinging to my mother’s hand as she ran down this trail when she saw father trudging up the hillside from the pasture below. I could almost smell the pot of steaming soup on the stove and the worn table and benches where we would sit and eat, the five of us, thankful that there was anything to eat at all.

Only then, looking upon my father’s gravestone, did I realize why my mother had taken her three little girls past that grave one last night, then loaded our sparse belongings onto to wagon with the echo of the horses hooves beneath us. We traveled for hours it seemed, towards the rivers’ edge and then boarding the ship, momma holding onto us as if we were made of glass.

 It was both the loss of hope and the search for something better that drove my momma into that shipyard that cold night. It was her strength and courage that found us living in a warm cabin across the endless sea that had given us what we had now.

I was filled with admiration for her brave soul, her staunch determination, as she made her way to that new land. I looked across the sea to America, to opportunity, to home.

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The Voice of Spring

The Voice of Spring

The winds of winter still catch us in early morning, or perhaps as the sun finally sets beyond the horizon. Our hearts ache for the warm breeze to linger, that first bloom to appear. Then one majestic morning, they are waiting at the bus stop and the child notices a bulging amidst the tiny clump of pale green leaves. He pulls at his mothers sleeve and smiles, knowing that inside that bulge was a blossom awaiting just the right warmth in which to open, to declare that spring had indeed come to the mountains! Mother smiled, thinking not of the hope of the peaches’ blossom, but of the sweetness of the fruit which would hang, heavily on that branch come July.

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A Fathers Gifts

A few years ago, I wrote this story for my father on Father’s day. I had hope to put it on my blog, but it didn’t happen. I found it today after I got home from my third day accompanying my father to a surgeon and decided that I wanted to honor him every day. It was time to write the blog.

I had been looking for a poem that I had written my father years ago, when I felt so young and innocent. Life has never been particularly kind to me, bu the last nine years have seen so many changes in my world that it has been hard to hold onto who I am. I realized more than every that the only way that I have made it through these time was the love and strength I had received from my father.

Within these past nine years, I have lost my best friend and three cousins to cancer. I have seen four of my children marry in only four years and have been blessed with six grandchildren, with number seven on the way. Not long after my second child got married, I lost my precious 15 year old son very suddenly while he was playing baseball. I lost my health because of this loss and have come close to death myself five times. Not quite three years ago, when I was still recovering from a hip transplant, I lost my beloved mother. The grief that my father felt after 61 years of marriage took a tremendous toll on him.

This story, however, is about my father, one of the most amazing men I have ever known. My father never had an easy life. His dad was a tenant farmer in Upper South Carolina and then Western North Carolina. His family moved nearly every year when he was young. He and his brother, who was three years older were out earning money doing chores when they were in grade school. My father and his brother were raised by their dad. His mother, who had been sickly most of his life died when he was five years old. During the 1920’s, it was practically unknown for a single father to raise his children. A maiden aunt came to stay with them from time to time. She was very strict and religious, but cooked them good meals and gave a woman’s influence in their lives.

My father has told me stories of his life since I was a child. I would beg him to tell me a particular story. I called him, “Huckleberry Ken” because his life had been so full of both hard work and mischief. After becoming a parent myself, I suggested that he should write down his stories, so that we could pass them on to his grandchildren, along with others who had enjoyed his art of storytelling.

He took my suggestion, and with me acting as editor, he publish. I had to ed four books about his childhood, teen years before World War Two. His time in the Navy in Guam, and his years working on both the Highway and Railway Post Office. He has another book that we have yet to officially publish.

Helping him with his books was both a chore and a privilege. I has to order photos from museums, obtain permission to use them, hunt down friends he had known 50 years before and record their stories, the scan and edit everything on the computer. In the early 1990’s a home computer was much more complicated than it is today. I often wonder why I ever suggested the idea of publishing the books. To my father, it was the dream of a lifetime and I look upon those difficult days, when I had a house full of little children to deal with as well, as some of the best days of my life.

My dad was the good student, the hard worker, his dad’s favorite. His brother had more difficulty in school and would probably be labeled “ADHD” in this ay and time. When the school would send home letters about his bothers lack of progress, my father would read them and tear them up, knowing that his brother would be unjustly scolded by their father and realizing that no one at schol would follow up on the letters. In the decade when he and his brother were students, kids from impoverished families were looked down on by teachers and administrators. Many of the children has parents who could not read or write and started school with little knowledge of “reading, writing and ‘rithmatic” as it was often called. Often, there was a shortage of materials and children who could not pay for books, never received any. There was little chance for these children to get an education when no one could help at home and no one at school seemed interested in helping them. Most of the children from poor families has quit school by their early teens, with boys working late shifts in factories and girls staying home to work on the farm and marrying by their mid-teens. Though there were child labor laws “on the books”, it was easy to lie about your age and not be questioned.

Once, when my father was in the 5th grade, he decided to change schools after hearing from friends that a nearby school was better than the one he was attending. All he had to do was walk a little further and catch another bus. Without ever discussing it with his father, he simply started the new school year at his “new” school. It was nearly Thanksgiving before his father found out, and my father was doing quite well in his “new” school, so his father just let it ride.

When my father and his brother were still in grade school, they would be out looking for jobs on weekends and in the summer, in order to get enough money for “soda crackers, a can of Vienna sausages and a soft drink for lunch.” In summer, it was easy to pick berries and sell them to the wealthy families who would come south “to summer” in the low country of the Western Carolinas.

They learned to work hard for very little pay. Often, they were asked to tear down old barns and storage buildings, and do odd jobs. When a wealthy resident or better yet a local contractor would ask if they could “fix cars, lay brick or haul cement”, their answer was always, “sure”. It was in this way that country boys like my father and his brother got most of their “education”.

When World War II was in the horizon, my dad and some friends headed north seeking jobs that they had heard were plentiful in the growing automobile industry. A few of them stayed, but my father and a friend, who owned a car, did not. They came home and found work in the construction business, taking any job they could get. They learned to drive trucks, build houses, and any other job that might lead to a “step up” on the employment ladder.

Not long after returning from their adventure “up north”, my father received his draft notice and decided to join the Navy before the decision of which branch of the service he would be drafted into.

His brother had injured his knee when he was a child and did not pass the physical to be placed into the “service”. One of my father’s most poignant memories was hearing his dad’s last words to him as he boarded the bus for basic training. His father had bowed his head, hiding a tear and whispered, “Son, I don’t think I will ever see you again.” He didn’t. While on Guam during the Christmas holiday of 1945, my dad was called into the chaplains office and told that his father had died of a heart attack. He still has the letter hr received four days later from his father, saying that, “everything was fine.” Communications were very slow in those days but the letter was profound, his father’s prediction had come true.

Upon landing in Guam in the fall of 1945, my father was asked by his commanders if he could drive a truck. Even though he had never held an official driver’s license, he replied confidently, “Sure.” and thus found his job with the navy would be that of a truck driver as our military men struggled to wipe out the final skirmishes of war and rebuild the devastated countries that had been left in its’ rubble.

His book about this time oof his life is titled, “Two Hundred Thousand Boys on a Rock Called Guam. On the cover is a photo of he and two friends sitting on the top of a captured Japanese submarine, the rising son right below their young, smiling faces. To me, this book is the story of a group of boys being thrust into an unthinkable situation and showing their determination and fortitude. It is the story of “boys” becoming “men”.

My father did not come home from World War II with the ticker tape parades and tearful families rushing up to their ships as it was shown in the newspaper. He got off of a bus in Upper South Carolina and walked several miles down a dusty unpaved road to an uncles’ house where he had lived for a while when he was a child. When he got there, tired and thirsty, no one was home. After walking to a country store to get a soda, he returned to a less than excited family who had been away selling produce. He stayed at their house one night, and realizing he wasn’t wanted, he took a bus to the home of a friend I Western North Carolina, hoping only for an invitation to supper and a bed for the night.

Surprisingly, the reception he got there was one of love and acceptance. The idea of a third son to help around the farm seemed good to the father, Mr. Jackson and rough a warm smile from his wife, who had always had an affinity for this long, lean, hard working young boy. Hoping only for a good nights’ sleep, he stayed there four years, until he met and married my mother. Mr. Jackson taught my father the skills to help him get construction and truck driving jobs, and was happy to have him “pay for his keep” by helping out around the farm. My father earned enough money to buy an old truck, which he nick-named, “Old Hully”. This allowed him to move up the ladder in the construction business to hauling materials, rather than carrying the heavy rocks and such to the construction site. The Jackson family called my dad, “Kenny”. And the name stayed with him in that neighborhood throughout his life.

My father had always valued an education and enrolled in a local Junior College under the G.I. Bill, which had allocated him funds for attaining an education. He took a double major in Accounting and Truck management at the Business School in the larger town nearby. It was there that he met my mother, who was also taking Accounting, riding the bus to night school while working in a bakery during the day.

When they married several years after meeting, my father was working at a Trucking Company and my mother still held her job at the bakery. They soon moved in to a small house on the street where my mother had grown up. I wasn’t born until nearly six years later. I had my father under my spell even before I was born, but when he laid eyes on a little girl with golden curls, his heart melted. After growing up with men and living in a home with only sons, having a little girl was both frightening and a blessing.

My father worked two jobs most of his life. He worked in the insurance industry, but decided not to move to Ohio when the company transferred there. I was nearly five years old when my dd was offered a job with The life of Georgia Insurance Company in Atlanta. Hoping that my mother would be happy in Atlanta, where her mothers’ family lived, he took the job and rented an apartment. Most of the time, my mother and I stayed in our new house that he had built in our home town, and my father came home on weekends. When he moved our family to Altanta, my mother was miserable. It wasn’t long before dad turned in his resignation and came back to our home town hoping one of his applications would be in the mail.

Surprisingly, an application did await him. It was for a job at the Postal Service! The hours were bad, the schemes, where an employee had to put cards into the correct hole in a large stand up desk were a nightmare, but my dad was up to the challenge and while keeping his part time job with the Tennessee Valley Authority, he passed the test and got the job! His early years at the Postal Service lead to his book about his years riding a highway mail bus that was so long that it required a bolted back section to traverse the country roads, and his years working on a railway car, sorting mail and throwing it out onto poles made for this purpose in rural areas. These jobs often required “lay-overs” of several hours or even a whole night and the Postal Service rented out rooms for their employees to rest in as they caught their next “run”.

My father’s job at the Tennessee valley Authority was my favorite. He often let me help him decode the machine-made charts from places up in the mountains with lovely names like “Sunburst”, which sparked my poetic soul. There was a secret phone number with a coded message on it that told the depth of the river at different locations. Dad trusted me with the number and I would call to check the gauges which sent a piece of equipment down into the different rivers and let out a series of beeps to tell the worker the depth of the river. The office also held volumes of books filled with photographs of the famous 1916 flood which devastated our area and caused several deaths.

More importantly, the TVA office was where I saw my first computer! It was in the late 1960’s and the machine took up a hole room. Its’ only job was to make the charts that wee read to compare the depths of the river at different locations. The most exciting part of being “daddy’s girl” on his TVA job, was that I got to ride with him to observe and record data about floods that occurred in Western North Carolina. I loved telling my friend the stories of seeing houses, flooded up to their porch rails, with a cat sitting forlornly on the roof.

Being a girl, and an only child, I had to be my father’s “son” as well as his daughter. That meant I got to learn all the “boy” jobs, unlike my friends. My father taught me about the stock market, investing and shared his love of learning with me. We played geography games, such as who could name the most states, state capitols, or fill in a blank map. We read books together, he taught me the love of reading and learning. He helped me with my homework. He would stay up hours doing math with me, a man who had only a 7th grade education before he took a double major at a Junior college. He would wrap my curls around his finger and assure me that if he didn’t know how to help me with an assignment, he would learn with me.

We worked in the garden, build sidewalks and fancy brick walls and made crafts out of wood. He taught me the names of the flowers, trees and insects where ever we went. Although I spent many hours with my mother, aunt and grandparents next door, it was my father who taught me.

I had thought about sending this story only to my father, but later decided that it would make an interesting blog about a little girl and her devoted father. He always reminded me of Abraham Lincoln, which did not please him. But he was tall, with curly, dark hair and a serious face, much like our 16th President.

My hope now, years after I first wrote this letter, is that my children and grandchildren will look back on this simple tribute to my father as one of love and respect. At 86, he still commands our rspect, still teaches us the lessons he has learned in his life. He has been generous with his help, strict with his rules and filled with an unequaled devotion to his family.

Though he has not always been agreeable with our modern ideas, he has tried to keep up with technology, taught us to invest and “save for a rainy day”. He reminded us of HIS “Golden Rule” (who ever has the gold makes the rules) and that, of course , was him.

I cannot imagine having a father who loved his errant, non-conformist, self proclaimed “hippie” daughter with any more patience and unabashed devotion than he has done with me, It goes without saying that he has had this same love and patience with my children and grandchildren.

I can only hope that in years to come , that my children have even half as much love and respect for me as I have towards him. As the old saying goes, “He has learned to turn lemons into lemonade.” The gifts that my father have been many, but none were more important than his time. He chose being with me over friends or hobbies. When asked him what the most important thing that we had was, he would squeeze our hands and softly say, “Time.” You can’t buy it, or even earn it, but you sure can waste it.” I wish I had listened more closely to his simple wisdom. I feel so fortunate that I have had so much time to spend with him.

Brenda Culbreth Lewis 9-20-2013

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