Sunday, December 13, 2009

Home For Christmas?

As a little boy I remember listening to the older men speak about "The Old Home Place". It seemed that each of the old folks that my Mom and Dad knew, at one time or another spoke about it. Whenever I was out hunting with the older folks and Dad, I would hear them speak of these mystical or imaginable places but knew of one thing for certain. These were places where families were once raised and where hard work was performed. Places where hardships and sadness were frequent.

But as I actually found where these places were and what old and forgotten family name owned them, nothing that resembled a home could be found. The best I could do was to find a hole in the ground that was once someones old root cellar. Perhaps a couple old and ancient fence poles were barely sticking up out of the ground. I still know of a few "old home places" that remnants of a stone chimney towers over the barely recognizable landscape that once was a home. Trees and shrubbery have over taken the ground that possibly once was manicured. I now understood what an "old home place" really was...a memory that will fade from modern existence.

As I write this, the deal has been finalized on my Mom and Dad's house. A place that they have called home and raised three children for over 43 years. As my sister the Blog Queen has written about in her earlier exquisite blogs, a gas company drilled a well on the mountain above their home. The road building and site preparation caused a massive mudslide to threaten their home and personal safety.

Last week, we all gathered and attempted to hurry mom with her packing and get what things were important out of the house long before the deadline was met. We soon realized, that, in an eleven room house with a 65 year old mother...everything she has collected over 48 years was important and nothing was to be left behind.

I watched the Blog Queen walk through the mud, slowly taking photos of the house that was our home for so many years. I could see in her eyes as her mind began to bring back memories of our childhood and possibly could hear the sound of we children arguing..and yes we did fight with each other most of the day.

She and I walked into the basement and stood looking around the chaos that was once Mom's Christmas decoration stockpile. For some reason, that basement looked so much smaller than it once did. We spoke of times that we remembered and eventually, jointly, brought to remembrance the night that Dad came home from work and took a shower in that basement. Apparently, Dad was a wee bit into "ye ole Christmas spirit" and was tipsy somewhat. At that time, we had an old Buckeye wood burning stove in the basement to heat the house by. Dad was a bit careless when bending over to dry his legs after his shower and ended up with "Buckeye" heat transferred onto his naked backside.

The Blog Queen mentioned how she would love to have a slab of flooring from the original house, which our grandfather had constructed and have her husband to engrave the word "Home" onto it. I thought that it would be a great ideal as well and I shall do my very best to be there when the house is destroyed and find her the nicest slab I can and keep it for her. I can not begin to know how Mom and Dad truly feels about the end of their home. I have lived in many houses through-out my adult life, but none have been my home. This one has been home to us all including the grand children.

I know that none of us had any of this in mind last Christmas when we gathered together as we have always done. I can't even begin to count how many Christmases I have spent in that house. All I really know is, I can count the years that I didn't spend Christmas there on one hand.

I remember the way we grew up all of those years ago. We never had everything that we wanted for Christmas but we always got what we needed and many times, we got one special gift, usually a big item that we really, really wanted. But every year, all of us would be home for Christmas. Little did we know that 2008 would be the last time any type of Christmas cheer would be heard in the old house. Missing this year are the massive amounts of exterior Christmas lights adorning the outside of the place. Empty is the yard of inflatable decorations and plastic illuminated Nativity Scene. No lights of any kind can be seen there tonight and none will ever be turned back on.

I can remember, many years ago, how we were taken to a relatives home on Christmas Eve. Possibly the first and maybe the last time it ever happened but the reason behind doing this was simple, "Just so Santa Claus would come". Now I know what really happened, Dad and another guy had returned to the house and placed our gifts around the tree. Added magic was when we found that our cookies that we placed on the table for Santa had been taken. Not sure if my brother and sister knew it at that time, but I knew it was Daddy.

Hundreds of Christmas memories I have in the old house and by God's blessings I will always remember. Once or twice I was not able to travel to my parent's home for Christmas and I remember sitting home alone thinking about the great things that were going on at that particular time at the old home. Knowing that I was missing new memories and dear family.

The old home was a Christmas shelter not only for all of us, five in all, but occasionally we shared it with other family members. Everyone knows who I am talking about. They are the particular family members that you really couldn't wait for them to arrive and hoped for their departure 15 minutes after they got there. The season was also shared by my Mom's mother and it was every Christmas that she was there. Just didn't seem like it was Christmas when Maw was not around. Then she passed in the mid 70's and things were not the same. A void was there and it would be years before my parents took up the mantle as grand parents themselves.

We grew up in the old house seeing Christmases that were made from prayers and hope, doubtful that 100 dollars were spent for gifts for all of us. We seen them that were made from far better times when nicer, more expensive gifts were given. We seen some years that our tree look like an old Dollar Store tree, skinny to the bone and if it were real, the birds wouldn't roost in it if it was the only bush in the woods. Then watch Mom fight and wool with the newer, bigger tree that she would take hours to set up, decorate to perfection and count each and every light she placed on it.

Years that we would wait for anticipation for the Holiday. Times we had no ideal what we were getting. It really didn't matter what was under the tree, all we knew was that we were having a good Christmas. Regardless of what we got or how many gifts each we received, they were awesome. Years that the decorations would be actual rough pine boughs which were cut by Dad in the woods and placed around doors and windows laced with large strings of multicolored lights. Man I can still smell the pine to this day. So many memories.

I know I can call myself blessed by the old house, my granddaughter spent her first Christmas in it as well thinking to myself that she would spend many more there as I and her Daddy did. Little did I know she would not get to know Christmas there as I do.

Christmas will have a new meaning this year, my parents have a new home in a new location. Mom set up her tree and placed a few decorations here and there, still worn out from the move and traumatized still from losing their home. But I find myself feeling sad realizing the old house will soon, possibly before Christmas, be bulldozed to the ground. If walls could talk, oh the stories those old walls could share, volumes and volumes of books with never the same story, but no more. Just a feeling of loneliness and abandonment by the family it took great care of for over 43 years.

I know in my heart that one day I shall take a ride over to the place where once sat the house. Looking for the two story gray structure that holds so many memories for me. Looking for Mom and Dad's vehicles in the drive and the flowers planted in the yard with loving care by Mom. Only to find that the manicured lawn is now full of old growth trees where my bedroom once stood. Bushes and large underbrush now spring forth where the smell of bread and fried potatoes once emanated from the kitchen.

The old basement where Dad got his "Buckeye" heat tattoo after a shower one night, is now filled with dirt and rock with no apparent sign that it ever existed. Emptied lot now covered and reclaimed by nature, showing no signs that the Walker's ever had raised a small family there. No mere hint of Dad attempting to play his banjo or we kids out in the yard having fun, our imaginations taking us to so many wonderful places.

Our home is no more. It has ceased being our home and now shall hold a new title as ..."The Old Home Place". But so much of what and who we are we owe to it and will remain grateful. We wish we could have helped the old home place but have failed in doing so. Hold no ill against us dear house, for we all love you and will miss you dearly holding memories of you fondly in our hearts and sharing them with all we meet. You have sheltered us and kept us warm most of our lives, awaited patiently for us to return and cherished our children as you did us but sadly ole gray house...we will not be home for Christmas this year or any other year to come. But shall forever visit you in our memories with the Ghost of Christmas Past.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Midnight at the Oasis

Many years ago, perhaps long before my wife and I ever met, "she" caught my eye. I actually never thought much about our first meeting other than how extremely wonderful she had made me feel. A chance encounter at the time. One to cherish and hold dear to my heart as I went forward with my life. I never forgot about her and how she made me feel and truly never thought our paths would ever cross again.
One day, as I was shopping for myself, we ran into one another once again. Memories of our first meeting flooded my mind, my pulse raced, my breathing became rapid and shallow. There was no denying what I was feeling and I knew that she had felt the same about me. How, you may ask? Her smiling face for starters. Oh how I remembered that gorgeous red hair and those wide bright blue eyes always piercing me to the very depths of my soul. She knew the way to a mans heart and she was not afraid to tempt fate. I knew what was to come in my life and what would become of us!
As the years went by she and I would connect, maybe it would not be every day, Lord knows that it may be weeks or months before we would meet. Our rendezvous would be casual, always watching my back to be so sure that no one would be watching. When we were together it was totally heaven on earth but as I grew older, I knew it would have to soon stop.
But how could I? Knowing how much she meant to me, knowing how much we both enjoyed our private meetings and the feelings of extreme passion that we shared. I never wanted this to stop.
My guilt became evident early one morning when I awoke and came into the kitchen to poor myself my first cup of coffee. As I sleepily walked in and sat down in my easy chair, slowly sipping my hot cup of coffee, I saw an odd look on my wife's face.
"You didn't sleep well last night did you?" She ask, continuing with,"You got out of bed sometime through the night and disappeared didn't you?"
I knew in my heart that she knew what I had been doing all these years. I was so afraid that she would be able to see or rather feel the love that I have always had for my secret red haired friend. I mean how could I hide this affair that I was having and have been having for all these years? I loved my wife and do so with all my heart but my attraction with the other woman has been growing long before my wife and I ever met.
"Oh babe, I just went to the bathroom is all" I said, trying to rub the sleep out of my eyes, actually trying to hide the true emotion that I knew my eyes would reveal.
I knew I had been found out and I did not want my marriage to end nor did I want problems and be accused of ruining something wonderful. So I called all future meetings with "her" off until I knew my wife's suspicions had subsided. No more would I climb out of the bed and head off with those thoughts in my heart and mind. No more would I crave her sweet touch or her creamy flesh. I had to stop for my own good.
But the longer I stayed away from her, the more I wanted her. I would find myself lying in bed with my wife's head on my chest, sleeping peacefully, with thoughts of the other woman drifting through my mind. I could see those lovely blues eyes searching for my soul in the darkness. I could see her as I did in the grocery store long ago, that red hair neatly placed underneath an occasional hat that she wore. She tempted me, she taunted me, she craved my touch as much as I craved hers. How could I stay away from her, she made me feel so wonderful, so wanted, so needed? I had to have her. I could no longer sleep. My nights were disturbed every hour on the hour, knowing my heart wanted her.
Then when I felt that my wife had given up on her suspicions, I made my decision. I had to see her at least one more time.
The very next night my wife and I went to bed as usual. Cuddled as we have done since we were first married. I knew what I was going to do. I already had it planned out. As soon as my wife was asleep and I knew she was in deep wonderland, I would make my move and keep my rendezvous. At 2:30 am, I awoke out of my sleep, as if awoken by a deeply set clock deep inside my soul. I slowly got out of bed and made my way to her.
A few days later, as I made my way towards the coffee pot for that morning coffee, my wife was not her usually cheerful self. I sat down in my easy chair and knew something was on her mind. "You have began having trouble sleeping again haven't you?" She ask.
"You were sleeping well for a long time but this week you have been gone out of bed every night I have noticed."
My God! How could she have possibly known what I was doing. I mean, this woman sleeps like a rock. She could never know where I have been. Lord I hope it isn't over!
"I noticed that there are certain things in the living room floor of the mornings that were not there when we went to bed".
What things I wondered? I was so very careful to cover myself. I knew that there was no possible way she could have seen evidence of what I have been doing. And yes, God yes I had been careful to remove any trace of our meetings from the living room floor. But was there any way I could have forgotten something? Possibly, after all, it was dark and I never ever wanted to turn on a light, not for any reason.
"What kind of things did you find in the floor?" I ask. "Just different papers....and wrappers. Someone left wrappers in the floor through the night as well." She replied.
Dear sweet God,,,the wrappers! No, please Lord I could not have been so careless to have left wrappers in the floor. But apparently I did. Now it was time to come clean.
"Babe..." I said, "I am guilty. I have been getting out of bed around 2 or 3 in the morning and doing things that I am not exactly proud of."
Oh man the look in her eyes tore my soul loose. I began to tell her how all of this had been taking place and why I felt in my heart that I had to meet this red haired wonder. And even told her how long were had been meeting. I wondered if it was over, if I had lost my wife's trust. When she looked at me with those sad eyes, that smile no longer on my wife's face, she began telling me why I needed to break this affair off and forget about the other woman.
"You know that this can't work. You know how that these midnight rendezvous will eventually hurt you in ways that you can't imagine." I knew she spoke the truth.
"I know that you feel that you need this and that you can't live without her. But if you don't stop these late night meetings with her, you will pay for it in the future. Do you know what she will do to your heart? How she will hurt you and build up poisons inside you that will eventually make you sick. She will eventually take your heart and pound it to a pulp."
Oh God I knew she was right. I knew that "she" would eventually hurt me and that I may never get over that hurt. But how could I ever let her go. How could I ever live without seeing her or having a part of her in my life? But for my sake and the sake of my marriage, I had to stop.
I made my promise to my wife to stop these late night affairs. I promised to stop seeing "her" and that I would not leave our bed unless I absolutely had to.
But being the love that my wife is and knowing my obsession with the other woman, she told me that I did not have to stop cold turkey, just stop doing this thing so much and especially so late at night.
She knew how much the other woman meant to me and was willing to meet me half way with my affair. I was so touched and almost moved to tears that I agreed. And immediately went to my red haired beauty to break it off as gently as possible.
I arose out of my seat and slowly, shamefully walked into the kitchen. Over to the pantry cabinet where I kept her through the day. I slowly opened the cabinet and reached in to take her gently in my hands. I held her close to me and looked lovingly into her sweet bright blue eyes.
"Deborah" I said, almost choked to tears,"we can't meet anymore my love. No more late night calls, you must promise me that you wont stand and call my name just to wake me and draw me to the kitchen."
"My wife knows now and she has warned me of the dangers that you can cause and what this affair of ours will ultimately do to us all."
I released her and slowly walked back to the living room to my wife and morning coffee.
That was months ago and I feel that my wife has gotten over it. I know that I still feel guilty but somewhat at ease knowing that I no longer have to hide my "Midnight at the Oasis". No more do I leave the bedroom heading for that rendezvous that could cost me so much. But I have to admit, we still do see one another from time to time. It isn't like it once was and we both understand. I am proud that I no longer "need" to meet her late at night and that we can come out of the closet or the cupboard as it actually is and enjoy ourselves in broad daylight. So much joy and pleasure she still brings to me and they are memories I will hold dearly.
So I write this blog for her, to her. So here is to my late night mistress, whom I have been secretly seeing for years. Here is to Deborah, or Debbie as many call her. My dear sweet blue eyed red haired Debbie,,precious and delicate "Little Debbie" who's peanut butter Nutty Bars with their 330 calories have kept me fulfilled and happy for so many years. No more meeting of the night, collecting fats and carbs, filling my arteries with muck. It has been great, but now it must end. My wife was right, Little Debbie would eventually destroy my heart and not shed a tear when I died.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Miss Jailey

I may have listed my little page as Lost In The 70's but the new century has something that the old one did not. One of the greatest things in my life was becoming a dad. Now I totally agree that anyone can father a child but it takes a very special person to be a Dad, or Mom.
The birth of my sons were two of the most precious days that I remember. They are part of my "grown up" memories that I pray I never lose. But just like any creature on God's green earth, they must eventually grow up and take flight on their own and go their way. One after another my sons grew up and took flight. Jamie got married and joined the Navy for a 7 year hitch and I had the honor of watching him mature in leaps and bounds. Adam followed his mom to North Carolina and actually worried me for some time. He then found his way to manhood and found his footing on life and ended up getting married and working to provide for his family. But something was missing. Something I had cherished no longer was present in my life. As the boys moved away, I felt as if I had stopped being a Dad. A man that was no longer needed. Occasionally I would get the rare phone call from one of the boys seeking advice or help and that boosted my "Dad " level back up a little. I eventually grew accustomed to this and settled down with my new role in the boys lives.
As time progressed, I did my very best to convince Jamie and his wife Tasha that a grand child would be so totally awesome. I even offered to financially support it, all they had to do was give birth to one. Hey I was desperate! I could understand the reservations that the two had, still being in the military and not wanting to have a child to raise in a temporary environment wanting a more permanent home for it. Ok, he will not be in the Navy for ever, so I could wait. Now Adam had an instant family when he married April and for medical reasons, she could mother no more children and Adam was certain he wanted no "rug rats".
Shortly after our last visit to New Orleans where Jamie was last stationed, I got a phone call one night. Jamie referring to me as "Papa". I was like "What's with the Papa crap dude?" He sort of giggled, you see, Jamie wanted a child almost as bad as I wanted a grandchild. "Well Daddy, Tasha used one of them pee on sticks and she is pregnant." Yaaaaaaa, right? Nope. Not for me, I was far to old an dog to be fooled by a bunch of pups.
"OK " I sez. "Has she went to the doctor yet?"
"No not yet" Jamie replied.
"Well when she goes to one and you have proof, then call and let me know."
I am certain he was waiting for that, flip flop and cartwheel scream till you break a window kind of reaction from ole Dad but it was not to be heard.
Time had passed and eventually the good doctor in New Orleans handed down the news. Yep, Grand Pa status was in the works for yours truly.
As time passed, Jamie finished his tour with the Navy and moved back home. I watched with anticipation as Tasha grew with the new life with-in her.
They were happy that the doctors told them that Jailey would be born towards the end of October. I think Tasha was looking for a Halloween birthday for Jailey while I joked that she was going to wait until Papa's birth month so she and I would forever share one thing in common.
October came and went and no little girl. But on November 8th 2008, little Ms. Jailey Rae Walker was born.
Imogene and I went the very next day to visit and get our first glimpse of the little bundle of wonder. My mind drifted as I drove to the hospital, thinking of how her birth changed me or perhaps would change me. I did not feel different, nor did I feel older. Years in the coal mines had made me feel old.
When I walked into the room, there they were, the new family. I looked at my son and begin to think, "My son has now become a Daddy, the circle is complete."
As they laid Jailey in my arms, she was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen. And if one looks closely at photos taken that day, tears are evident in my eyes.
I have watched her grow over the past 9 months. But nothing brings a smile to my face more than the thoughts of her smile or laughter. Or the way she sheepishly clings to me at church when someone attempts to talk to her. I do miss the 70's, but they did not have one thing that I have now. My sweet Grand Daughter. I pray that she never see's some of the bad things in her life that I have in mine. I pray that those smiles will always be present on her face. That great and wonderful things will always be her's. That the Lord will always be in her heart and shine his grace upon her in all she does.
Yea the boys grew up and moved off. I felt that my days of being a child mentor had long past. Then as Chicago sang, "Then along comes a woman, and she changes the way that you're feeling tonight" or in this case, along comes a baby.
So you know, I have came to the conclusion that life hasn't slowed down. My little dudes need the ole man from time to time and now, oh wow now, getting older? Hmm, I think that now will be the most grooviest, most psychedelic road trip ever. As Robyn Williams character Peter Panning said in the movie "Hook", "To live will be the greatest adventure of all". So here's to the future, may the 70's keep be grooving but the 21st century bring me the most happiness and satisfaction.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Collapse of Pride

The wife and I took a wee little trip down to the state of North Carolina this week to visit with our youngest son. As the West Virginia economy suffered damage back in the late 80's, I was forced to relocate to North Carolina to find work. I have always viewed the Tarheel state as a state that was always moving forward. New homes and businesses are always being built and the Want Ads in the local papers were always full of jobs that needed to be filled. It was never hard to leave one job and have another before the sun went down the very same day.
As I drove through the city of High Point, once self proclaimed "Furniture Capitol of the World", although the city of Thomasville made that proclamation long before High Point, I truly saw the effects that our current nations economy had made on the area. Back when I had lived in the area many years ago, furniture factories and textile mills dominated the economy. With new "Mom and Pop" furniture factories being built and set up seemingly every week. Each and every factory appeared have two to three shifts working 7 days a week, scarcely would one see a plant that had empty employee parking lots.
To my surprise I found furniture and textile factories who once employed hundreds of North Carolinians were no longer in operation. And I saw at least 4 such plants that are now home to weekend flea markets and yard sale havens. Multi acre size plants were now closed and their parking lots were over grown with grass. Factories that were constructed to handle massive shipping orders with over 50 tractor trailer shipping docks were now vacant, no trucks in sight waiting to be loaded. Shipping delivery trucks would rule the roadways, buggers would run you over getting from destination to destination like busy worker bees taking care of a community hive. Now sit idle or grouped together at business equipment surplus sale car lots.
What had happened? What could have possibly happened to have shut down so many wonderful companies that once supplied the nation with household furniture and textile products? Just the economy? Folks stopped buying furniture, socks and underwear? Now I do not know about you but I tend to take care of my homes furniture so I dont usually go chair shopping once a month, but socks and undies, yea I need to replace those things on a regular basis. So I know that, as a consumer, I do purchase textiles more than furniture.

I honestly feel that we have been sold out. Sold out by the folks who call themselves "public servants" or as I call them, filthy rich politicians who's only goal in life is the continuance of collecting wealth at any cost no matter who pays for it, namely the little ole tax payers. So much that America now depends on is purchased from other countries. In a deal made between the USA and China over a decade ago we agreed to purchase products made in China in return for China loaning the USA cash to purchase oil from the Middle East. Similar deals we made with Mexico and Canada which has boosted their economies but ruined our own.
Today, as I drove through the cities of Thomasville and High Point I recall very few factories actually working. Thomasville is home to the Thomasville Furniture Company which now has laid off almost all of their employees with no hope of ever returning to work. As I explained to my wife what type of city High Point once was, a self sustaining city reliant upon no one else but themselves, where hundreds of factories and facilities which once depended on each other for growth and prosperity have now closed their doors, possibly forever. All because of elected officials making deals with other countries to satisfy their own lust for more money, never thinking of the long term effect it may have on the little person.

Now I sure hope my next comment doesnt get me some hate mail from you Wallippians, but have you ever went to Wal-Mart and attempted to complete your shopping list just by purchasing products made ONLY in the USA? Almost an impossibility right? If China ever stopped exports into the US, Walley World would go bankrupt in less than a month. Now I like the ease of Wal-Mart as much as the next budgeteer but I would like to think I am helping my fellow Americans keep their jobs.

Furniture that is sold in Wal-Mart is made in China, Philippines, Korea and Mexico. This stuff is made from pressed saw dust and simple to assemble (sic) and already finished. Folks who made real furniture from real wood with a real finish are going to Wal-Mart to buy this stuff to stick their Korean or Japanese made computers on simply because no one here in the US make the stuff anymore.

I remember back in the 70's of a specific bumper sticker or window sticker could easily be found in the shape of a red, white and blue star with the simple words that stated, "Made With Pride In The USA". Well that was back in the 70's when folks worked and at least 20% of Washington DC still were running this country of the people, for the daddy-o, that sure has changed. The ole Disco Duck has seen this and is sad. I wish the politicians had as much pride in America and the products we once made as the folks who once made it.