Saturday, July 31, 2010

Walker Siblings - 1973

By order of age: Horace, Howard, Hilma, Alice, C. L., Virginia, Dorothy
This photo, of seven of the eight children of Casie and Annie Gibson Walker, was taken on the day of their mother's funeral, in 1973.

Absent, from the photo, is Ray. He should have been standing between Hilma and Alice but had been in a nursing home since 1970.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Old Garage.....July 26, 2010

The old house, the house of my grandparents,and in later years, my parents, sits quietly in our yard. It has been on this property for many years; maybe I should say that our house sits in its yard. Our house stands where the old garage, of my grandparents, stood. In my mind's eye, it was a huge old building - but, in fact, it was wide enough for only one old vehicle. I was young, so I don't remember much, but I remember that it was an unpainted building with a dirt floor. I remember the old school bus, with the yellow body removed, that sat inside.

In those days, the school buses were owned by the ones that drove them. My grandfather, and at least one of my uncles, drove the bus over roads that were practically impassable in the winter, or after a rain. The bus was also used for the family's transportation. My grandfather died when I was 9 years old, so I have scant memories of him. I do remember one summer when I must have been about 5 years of age, coming to their house. Grandpa and Granny took me, in the old bus with the yellow body removed, to the creek to wade.  I remember bouncing along between them, on the hard seat, hair blowing in the wind. I thought it was so neat to ride in a vehicle that had no top.

The old garage, the old bus, and my grandparents have long been gone - but the memories remain still.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Looking at the World through David’s eyes - July 22, 2010

This is a true story about a wonderful, giving young man in the foothills of the Middle Appalachians of Virginia.

As I parked out front of the office on that beautiful crisp winter morning, for some reason I briefly thought of David. I smiled to myself as I thought about what our first conversation on this morning would be. During each visit, David would come in and discuss what type of rental car I had rented that trip.

David was the son of the owner of the company. He performed light jobs; picking up and delivering the mail, picking up supplies, etc. Aged 33, he had been on three different organ transplant lists for 2 years. Both kidneys were diseased, and he’d received his first transplant at age 17. That transplant was successful for almost ten years. The second transplant followed shortly, but failed after only two years. The result was that David had no functioning kidneys and was on home dialysis each night of his life.

David was special because he didn’t expect people to treat him differently just because of his illness. He had a ready smile and a slow wit that made you like him, instantly. In the summer, he shared the roses from his backyard garden with the ladies in the office – and I was always included if I was lucky enough to be there.

This trip was to be different. I learned, with great sadness, that David had been laid to rest just days before my arrival. His tired, diseased body could no longer fight the infection, and he hadn’t been lucky enough to receive another transplant.

In that rural area of Virginia where neighbors are neighbors and everyone knew everyone – David’s funeral was one of the largest they had ever seen. Over 2,600 people gathered to say their final goodbyes to this young man who had made such an impression on their lives because of his spirit, his determination, and his genuine love of people and of life. In the small town, tears came to the eyes of the clerk in the grocery store who vowed how much she would miss him. His death had brought great sadness. I couldn’t help but wonder if he realized the joy that he had brought to so many – he had left a void that would be hard to fill.

It was said that, although he was only 33, his body was like that of an 80 year old man. David had felt the pain of rejection in attempting to, once again, find a kidney, and to the surprise of his family, he had donated the only good part of his body that was left; his eyes.

Perhaps the person, or people, who were lucky enough to receive David’s eyes, will be able to see the world as he saw it. Somewhere, someone is seeing again because of David, and hopefully those eyes are smiling, because the young man who once saw through them always smiled.

Remembering Granny Watermelon time...July 22, 2010

This time of year, when the watermelons are ripe and sweet, I think of Granny. In the summer, there would be piles of the striped Charleston Grays under the old oak tree in her backyard. An old wire spool, from Southern Pine, sat under the tree and was a great substitute for a picnic table. The melon would be placed on the table, and if a knife wasn't handy, Granny would "bust" the melon by slamming it on the table. She would "forbid" us from eating anything but the sweet meat of the hearts. We'd stand around the old spool, sometimes eating with forks, and sometimes biting into the slices of melon as the sweet juice dripped down our chins.

The branches of that same old oak tree, shaded and sheltered the shellers of the many bushels of peas and butterbeans, each summer. Granny didn't have gardens, she had fields. In the summer, her dinner table was full of fresh vegetables; and in the winter, it was full of vegetables that had been canned and preserved.

It never seemed to bother anyone that we ate the same things; okra, butterbeans, peas, green beans, fried corn, or corn-on-the-cob, tomatoes, cucumbers, and cornbread, over and over. At mealtime, not only was the table full but so was the guest list. Everyone knew that her door was always open and everyone welcome. Not only was she Granny to us, she was also Granny or Aunt Annie to many, whether or not they were related.

In 1973 a part of my world died, when she passed away - and 30 years later, the old oak tree died. The watermelons are just as sweet as they were so many years ago.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Squash Casserole - with cornbread dressing

2 cups diced yellow squash
2 cups crumbled cornbread
1/2 cup margarine, melted (I use butter)
2 teaspoons dried sage (adjust to taste)
1 (10.75 ounce) can cream of chicken soup
1 egg, beaten
1 large onion, chopped - minced onion flakes will also work
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup milk

1.Wash and cut squash into small slices.
2.Put squash into saucepan and cover with water. Cover and cook over medium heat, until squash is tender.
2.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a medium baking dish.
3.In a bowl, mix the squash, cornbread, butter, sage, cream of chicken soup, beaten egg, onion, salt and pepper, and milk. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.
4.Bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly browned.