I told Jenny, today, that one day, I am going to think about flowers and things like pretty curtains . . like I used to. It is not this day. It has not been that day in a while. Thankfully, the autumn keeps providing little interludes of sorts, to prod me along. When I see a maple ablaze with amber leaves or golden light filling up a field, I take it personally and know that I am loved.
My uncle Randy, died this week. He was my dads’ oldest brother. He was eighty five years old, which when you read that, it makes you think he lived to a ripe old age and we should all be counting the blessing of that. . .and we do, but we are all heartbroken anyway. After all, there is one less person in this world that loved us, especially. . . there is one less elder in the family, that lived the stories of our history and one less father, grandfather, uncle and brother, in our clan.
He was a kind and gentle man, humble and soft spoken. He had buried a wife and two sons, killed in separate tragic accidents as very young adults. He grew up on the back roads of North Carolina, where life was hard. He joined the army as a young man. Somewhere he learned to play the guitar and played in a band. Like all the men on the “Warren” side of the family, he was an excellent mechanic. (That gene shows up in the family-even both of my sisters- and the grandchildren! (But not me, at all!)
Uncle Randy spent the last years of his life, in a nice townhouse, with his daughter, Sheila, for a next door neighbor. Sheila cared for him, lovingly and faithfully, and deserves a crown. What an example she has set of devotion and I admire her with all of my heart.
We gathered today for the funeral. I had a visit with one of my dearest cousins, Wendy. Wendy is a constant source of inspiration for me. Her heart is as pure as the “driven snow”. We shared a meal on Uncle Randys’ porch and remembered our own grandmother, and agreed that Uncle Randy had “her tender heart” and we missed our grandmother, all over again. If you are under the impression that I hail from good folks, then you are right. I have been given the golden opportunity to know goodness, nobility and integrity. . .through my elders . . .and Uncle Randy was one of them.
We had planned, weeks ago, to have a “Thanksgiving meal” on this Sunday, at Mama and Daddys’ house. I woke early to start making my dishes. I am sure that Mama got up early too, as she is cooking the turkey. Connie was making a chocolate cheesecake last night, which I am looking forward to. She asked me if she should and without hesitation, I said “yes!”. My brother in law, Roy has converted his famous chocolate cake to cupcakes for Lyla, as she just loves cupcakes. I am bringing a large pot of collards and I am making the biscuits for the stuffing. My grandmama gave me the recipe, when I was a young cook, and now no bagged crumbs or boxed ones, will do in our family.
The morning broke quietly as I was washing the green collards. The light came in soft increments, til at last it was day. There was just the right amount of chill in the air, to make me look forward to turning the oven on. The scant frost on the fallen leaves, glistened in the sunshine. I walked outside and the peace of the morning settled on me like a holy shield around me and the cares of this season in my life, dimmed greatly. Nothing disappeared, such as impending dates, loss and the hidden details of my future, but these things now paled, in the glory of the morning.
I couldn’t help but think of Sheila, as today will be especially quiet for her. I am glad that she has her children and grandchildren that gather around her, dependably, for they will be of great comfort.
The early “Thanksgiving” dinner was a success. We were all served by one, after Lylas’ blessing-save Delores who offered to hold Brynn. After we ate, we drew names for Christmas. This was a first for us and we shouted out the names as soon as they were drawn, as if it were a lottery. Next, we planned a day to gather at Mama and Daddys’ to put the tree up and hang the wreaths. Mama always has an especially pretty home at Christmas, and I think her neighbors have come to depend on it. Her picket fences are adorned with garland and red bows. There is a Christmas flag and lights. It is a charming sight and I suspect people driving past, are likely to slow down.
Everyone left, the gathering, with hopes to get home, before dark. Deer are a plenty on country roads, and pose quite a hazard for drivers. They not only dart in your path, but are liable to dash into the side of your car, at great speed. If one runs across the road, seasoned country dwellers, know to stop altogether, for you can bet your last dollar, more are coming, behind it. They are beautiful creatures, and lovely to encounter . . if they are safely grazing in a field or drinking from a creek, at twilight.
I was in comfortable clothes and under a warm, soft blanket, by the time the first star was out. If at all possible, I try to keep Sunday nights quiet. I sort out what I can about the details of the upcoming week and hope for the best. I look at the forecast and I take an inventory of the groceries. . .for these things have become rituals over the years . .after all, tomorrow is Monday . . .and that changes everything.