Sunday, September 25, 2016

Travelers In Painted Wagons on Cohay Creek

It's ironic how families can become involved in one's life in one way or another. Back in 1941, when I was born - Myrtle Gregg was the midwife who assisted with my birth. She was probably the first to hold me when I saw the "light of day" in Smith County - all those years ago. She helped to give me my beginning.

And now her daughter, Mary Lou Gregg Cheatham Cooke, is helping to give me another beginning.

Mary Lou is a published author with Abi of Cyrene, Secret Promise , The Courtship of Miss Loretta Larson, The Dream Bucket, and Manuela Blayne which are all available on Amazon. (She writes as Mary Lou Cheatham.)

Mary Lou and I met on Facebook - even though we were both Smith County natives.  I'm not sure how our friendship began or who requested whom as a friend. 

I grew up in the MS Delta but visited Taylorsville in the summers, while Mary Lou was growing up in Taylorsville and visiting - in the Delta. 

On one of my many Taylorsville to Dallas trips, I contacted Mary Lou and we met for lunch - in Shreveport. Of course, we discussed writing. Mary Lou was a published author. I was a "wannabe"......someone who writes freelance articles. I had begun a book, and I discussed it with Mary Lou.

I'm not even sure how the "let's write one together" came about - but our connection to Smith County, Taylorsville (which is Taylorsburg, in our book), Cohay Creek and life in a small southern Mississippi community all seemed to make sense. 

"Travelers in a Painted Wagon on Cohay Creek" was actually born in Mary Lou's head - but there is so much of this book that is a part of me and my life. Mary Lou had the ideas and would make suggestions, and I realized what she was thinking and dreaming about was also in my head! We knew we could do this together - it was as if our minds were one - in this venture.

We are thrilled to have completed the first segment of this journey. The manuscript is now in the hands of Beta Readers (or as one friend's son said...."Criticizers"). The cover has been designed, Bio's are being crafted, endorsements are being written, and soon - Travelers will head to the printer.

We have been absolutely amazed at the response from the Beta readers. One wrote: “....ought to be on television...loving this book...cried when I finished it...a great story line...”
#Gypsies #Romanies #CohayCreek

Saturday, September 17, 2016

I Love Trees..........

The old Walker home place on Fellowship Road is full memories. Each child had their own memories and each grandchild has their own set of memories.

Our grandfather passed away in 1950, when I was just 9 years old. I barely remember him. The one memory that I have is of a summer when I was about 5 years old. All their children, my aunts and uncles, were grown and married. I came for a visit. The only thing I remember about that time was riding in the old school bus, on the front seat, between Granny and Grandpa. They took me down to Cohay Creek, so I could wade in the water and play in the sand.

Grandpa owned the school bus, and when school was out for the summer, the yellow body was taken off and the flatbed truck was used, on the farm.

Granny was just 56 when Grandpa died suddenly of a massive heart attack. She continued to live in the little house, on Fellowship Road and she continued trying to farm with hired hands. She had to make a living. She sold timber, even though there wasn’t much to sell – most of her land was used for farming.

In the summer, gardens and fields were full of vegetables for canning and freezing. There was a huge oak tree, in her back yard, where everyone would sit to shell the peas and butterbeans and snap the green beans. It was the tree where watermelons would be piled – ready for cutting. Granny’s theory was that you ate only the heart…..the rest was thrown over the fence into the hog pen.

I loved that old tree because it held so many memories.  I remember the day Bob (my husband) told me that it had to go. It was dying and was hollow inside and one day it would fall and someone could be hurt. I was away, at work, the day the tree came down about 2003. Loving trees, as I do, I must have grieved for it.

I remember when our house was being built and the tree that I always thought of as “Mama’s Bull Tree” had to be cut down. Just to the right of the old corn crib was the huge oak tree. My mother would laugh and tell stories about how she, and my Aunt Hilma (my dad’s oldest sister) had to climb the tree to get away from a charging bull. In my mind, I could see the two of them….hanging onto the tree and screaming and all the while the bull was butting the tree. I remembered the climbing up part of the story I just never remembered hearing the getting down part!
Down behind the garden was the Mulberry Tree. Such a mess they can make, but what wonderful syrup can be made to pour over pancakes, or French Toast, or Waffles! When Hilda Grace (now Bynum) and her mama, Miss Mary Craft, would visit Granny…..Granny’s treat for Hilda Grace was to visit the Mulberry Tree. Her teeth stayed purple, all summer!

When we were kids playing in Granny’s yard she would give us spoons and dishes (if kids play outdoors, these days, it’s with plastic), and we’d play in the dirt under the old water oak that still stands beside the old house. I remember the night, a few years back, when lightning struck the old tree. Bob tried to make me understand that it would have to be cut down. I fought the decision, and the old tree still stands. When winter comes, the Mistletoe thrives in the top, and squirrels chase up and down the tree all summer long. How could I deprive them of their home?

Down under the hill, behind where the old corn crib stood and behind where my house now stands, is the old Pear Tree. Granny passed away in 1973, and the old tree still lives on. It’s one of the first trees to begin blooming, in the spring, and it’s one of the first trees to begin changing color in the fall. I look at the old tree and so many memories of Granny and my mother flood my memory.

I love these old trees of my childhood and when they die it’s as if I’ve lost a good friend. I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree. When a tree from my childhood dies, I think a part of me goes with them.

I love trees and I’m surrounded by them! 
#trees #Ilovetrees #FellowshipRoad #GrannyWalker #PearTree #Craft #Bynum #Walker #homeplace

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Never Prepared.....

Two years ago, tonight, was the last night we had you with us. The house was full of family and friends......I had called everyone you had told me you wanted to be here at "the end." Your children, your grandchildren, your siblings, special cousins and friends. You were always such a private person....that was so unlike you to want everyone around you.

I remember, so vividly, the night we put you in hospice.......I didn't realize that the time you had left.....with us......was so short. (We had been to so many doctors in the past few weeks, I am still unable to fathom that one of them didn't have the nerve to tell us you were in the "final stages.")

I will always remember something you said to me......"Mama (that's what you had begun to call me), I must be've called everybody to come home." I didn't lie to you........there was no point. You had called each of your siblings just a couple of weeks earlier and said your told them you were dying. You didn't tell me that same thing.....because I'm sure you knew I would try to "talk you out of it." I had often said "you won't die, on my watch"......even though I had absolutely no control over what was about to happen.

A diagnosis of cancer isn't always a death sentence.....many forms are curable.....but yours wasn't. It was treatable, but not curable. You responded quickly and well to the treatment and almost immediately you were in remission. However, the treatment that put your cancer into remission damaged other organs and brought great pain. From before your diagnosis, when you sprained your back playing golf in North Carolina, you were in pain......we were to learn that it was one of the "benefits" of your type of cancer as well as of the treatments.

The day you were given the diagnosis of cancer you were also given a prognosis......."you probably have five years." You focused on that number......and you didn't make it that long. I wonder if the prognosis had been ten years.....would you have lived longer?

You lived with constant pain and a regular routine of controlled substance meds to attempt to assuage the pain and keep it under control. You weren't ready to leave us but you were ready to die to relieve the pain and suffering. We weren't ready to give you up, but we were ready for you to no longer suffer and for you to finally know some peace. Your quality of life had become more important than the quantity of days you had remaining.

Our family had been preparing, for this moment, from the time of your initial diagnosis......and we learned, at the moment you took your last breath, there is never enough time to prepare to say a final goodbye to one we love.

Tomorrow, while Labor Day is being observed by will be a day of observance, in this house.....the day when you left the arms of those who loved you and awoke, in the arms of Jesus. It won't matter how many days, weeks, months, or years will forever be in our memories and in our hearts.......and we will continue to relive the last week that we spent......with you.

Loving you always........missing you forever......and we would have never been prepared for what was to come.

#MultipleMyeloma #LaborDay #Remembering #BeingPrepared #Hospice #TheFinalWeek