Conversations With a Bobwhite

Dear Daddy,
It is March, your birthday month.  I think of you everyday, and most especially now.  We all still shed tears when remembering the times that you were here, with us.  Mama tends your grave, with loving care.  Delores makes quilts out of the shirts you left.  Connie takes tools to Mamas’ house, for she is the  most qualified, for that place.  Know that she keeps the house in good order.   I tell our stories and plant flowers. 
If I ever find the place to plant trees, I will, for I remember how you loved trees.  Oh! peach trees are starting to bloom-and as always, we are expecting bitter cold weather today.  Like clockwork, the wind roars these days.  I remember the kites you made.  They could soar . Over the fields they went til they were just tiny as sparrow,. to the eyes. I suspect, that few fathers come home from work and fly kites with their children, til supper. 
You would have loved what I saw a few weeks ago.  There were four bluebirds at a bird feeder at your former home.  They were in quite a ruckus.  How darling they looked with their bright blue feathers filling the space like confetti.  I am glad that you taught me to love birds.  I will never hear a bobwhite, that I do not remember us sitting outside on warm evenings , having conversations with a bobwhite.   . . and then looking for the first star.  How peacefully, I grew up.  I still look for the first star. 
Some days, I listen to the same music you loved, when you were here.  Many days, I just can’t.  Sometimes, it is just too hard . . . to remember. 
Even remembering the seasons when we were at odds, pains me.  You were such a strict parent, and it aggravated me, during my teenage years. I didn’t dare argue with you, for somehow, you had convinced me that you knew more than I did.  Some way, you made me think, that it was an awful sin, to be disrespectful.  Somehow, you made me be (mostly) obedient.  It seemed to me, that no matter how much I sulked and distanced myself . . you were always there.   Today, I know it was your love  that was always abiding, whether I liked it or not. 
Since, you left, much has happened. . .and in such a short while, really.  “Our way”  of life is disappearing with every minute that passes.  I suppose each generation regrets losing something beautiful.  The things, that one generation calls valuable-even precious-may not be deemed so, by the next.  I am thankful, that the gifts you bestowed on your children, were not the “temporary sort” .   . . and so they remain.  Having good parents is a gift in itself.
Neither you nor Mama  were ever afraid to enforce rules, or responsibility.  In fact you seemed to be on a mission.  You already loved us, but it was important to you to make us all lovable to others.   I often say that I knew everything, before, I went to school, about how to behave properly.
  No matter how gallant your efforts were, not every lesson “took’ with me.  When I fumbled and stumbled, you always said the same thing . .”You knew better!”  Oh, how I hated that. But, you were right.  I did know better, for you had drilled “better”  in my heart and soul with diligence.  I still tell myself that now, when I am tempted to act otherwise. 
There is another thing, to mention, which I am grateful for. . .the way you loved Mama.  I could write a book, on your fatherhood, but you were also a good husband-and I do not take that lightly.  You and Mama were a steadfast union-and that made a difference then-and now.  You both worked hard, you at a job, and Mama at home.  How valuable that proved to be.  We really had the best of everything, as children.
  It is no wonder, that you are missed by all of us.   Thank Goodness, that you did not leave us “empty handed”.   . .but instead, laden with self esteem, accountability, perseverance, sensibility and gratitude.  Because of you, I have seen nobility . . . so I know what it looks like.  As it turns out, . . I really do “know better.”

Mama Had a Birthday

Mama had a birthday.  Last Friday, she turned eighty years old.  In light of that, My sisters and I, after months of deliberation, decided to take Mama to see her cousin, Yvonne.  We had a car packed by ten am, on that day to head to Salter Path, NC. 
Salter Path is  situated on a small island just an hour , and the best part of another, from Mama’s house.  Yvonne and her family, have called it home for more than fifty years-in fact, they are a well known family there -and not only because of their well established shrimping business, nor because of their admirable work ethic, but also because they are good people. 
In summers, long past, Cousin Yvonne would load her car up with her four children and hid inland to see all of us.  I loved those days.  The cousins and I would play in the shade.  Angela and were close in age, so we were fast friends.  We wrote letters for years, as children rarely used a phone.  The boys were so  cute-and quiet.  They weren’t nearly as rambunctious as every male cousin, inland.  The baby Debra Lynn, was adored by all of us. It was always a grand event, when they visited.  Cousin Yvonne was and is a happy, smiling person.  She is Mamas’ first cousin, and  the granddaughter of “Mama Hodges”.  She was the least stern of the adult relatives and because of that, we were “good as gold” in  her presence. 
Mama and her sweet cousin kept in contact, but visits became few and far between.  I suspect , we kids kept them busy.   At long last, we were united again, for Mamas’ birthday.  It was as if, we had not spent years apart.  Right off,  we were crying and chattering.  It felt like a “homecoming”, of sorts. . .it felt like it was everybodys’  birthday!  
They are a loving lot to one another.  They were to us, too.  We left their home on the blue sound, tumbling by, with lovely memories-and shrimp! . . .vowing to visit more, as we ought to. 
Now nothing else could compare to that afternoon, but  we had several nice meals at some local restaurants and one morning, we went to the beach. We visited several shops.  One night we took a personality test.  That was interesting.  My  results were quite accurate.  I have taken this same one before, and as it turns out, I am  still  a procrastinator and I still can’t bear lists nor schedules. 
We came home on Sunday. It was another spring like day.  We all dreaded parting and whined about it as we tidied up the cottage.  We all agreed that this was time well spent . . .and that Mama had enjoyed her birthday. 
Monday came along-and that changed everything. Even the chill of February returned.  Now, there were routines to follow and housekeeping.  I am quite satisfied with my work and even the chores of tending a house, but often I thought of my cousins and I missed them.  I thought of Mama, turning eighty.  Of course, the world is full of frightening news-and I thought of that, too.  What a contrast of things to consider.
Life can   be very somber sometimes. The last few years, have been somber ones. Fear and anger have resulted in a sort of chaos.  This lingers heavily.  If  there has ever been a time for us to examine and define as precisely as we can, what we love, what we truly value and what matters most to us, it is now.   Somehow, in this time of suspicion,  greed and all sorts of division, we must seek that  “peace that passeth understanding” with a zeal.  In some way, all the static, seems to make this effort, easier, for the circumstances almost implore us, to do so.  Whether we want to or not, we will discover who we are.  Dire circumstances tend to sharpen with precision, our senses .  It is as if, the truth  pierces obstructions, to find us. 
To counter, all of the harshness, I strive to maintain some sort of balance, in hopes it will preserve my sanity.  For this reason, I look for violets, and sprouting lilies. I listen to music and read inspiring passages.  I think how Mama was so happy on her birthday weekend.  I plan for Hayleys’ wedding celebrations.  I hope to paint a picture soon, and if all else fails . . . I think of my  loved ones  . . and  I will remember my cousins.