Creamsicles and Gravity
As children, certainly for those of us to the Dixie Manor born, we didn’t think much about the heat. Even on days where the man in the little box shouted warnings about record high this or that and the humidity was so high you choked on it the second you stepped outside, we still carried on. Summertime seemed to evaporate in the blink of an eye and the heat wasn’t going to keep us from enjoying even a second of it.
Sweating and slicking on my second creamesicle… one mama had given me, the other I swiped from the freezer in the pantry when no one was looking… I sat on the back porch one afternoon tying on one of my birthday presents… a shiny new pair of roller skates. I had more balance then that I do know, thank God. Joined by a few friends, we set off to terrorize the neighborhood. There were no knee pads or helmets in those days, at least none that found their way into our house, not that I would have worn them anyway. Every time someone went down we all laughed, we got back up, and off we went again.
Down the street Widow McCann lived in what we called “Spook House”; it looked like every other white columned antebellum house in the neighborhood. Mrs. McCann lived there alone and clearly struggled to maintain it. One son lived in a few hours away in Memphis and the other married a yankee and followed her to Virginia. Yes, for those of us from the true heart of Dixie, anyone outside Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama or Georgia was a yankee, or a foreigner, or both. The house, which is thankfully still standing today, was in need of a little… ok, a lot… of TLC. But, her yard was a shortcut on the way to the local drugstore, where for money we wouldn’t bother to bend over and pick up now, we could belly up to a long polished mahogany bar and have one of the best coke floats on the planet.
It was on this shortcut that the theory of gravity became, well, very real. Across a little man made stream was a five or six foot wooden bridge; it was nice and flat and in my infinite wisdom I decided to get a running go and skate across it to the cobblestone path on the other side. I remember grabbing the handrails and propelling myself forward and then, somehow, felt the earth tilt on its axis. The next thing I remember was looking up at the blue sky through the canopy of a giant live oak, unable to breathe. At least my epitaph would read “he went out with his skates on”. After a couple of minutes of laughter from my buddies and God snatching me back from what I thought was the cusp of death, I was able to breathe again, so I got up, dusted myself off, and we headed to get that coke float none the worse for wear.
I’m a little wider than I was then. I’m shedding brain cells and hair faster than I can count, and I’m certainly a lot less resilient than I was four-plus decades ago. As they say, oh, but for a time when life gave more than it took. I know Kathy’s going home at the moment she did was part of Gods perfect plan. She’s no longer in pain and suffering and for that I’m grateful. I know we’ll see each other again soon and I take great comfort in that, too. March 11, 2013 at 4:33PM, however, knocked the wind out of me. I haven’t fully regained it and I’m not sure I will. Time has made some things easier and yet so much hasn’t changed. For so long my purpose was quite clear and I was happy to fulfill that role. Now, I’m rudderless and drifting and, admittedly, not so patiently waiting on my call home.
I’m still here, so my purpose isn’t fully realized just yet. I’m struggling with not knowing what that is, and with forgiving myself for not knowing more or being able to do more and for those moments when I didn’t realize just how short time could be. I’m not as active on social media at the moment because I just don’t have anything to say… that anyone would want to hear. Thank you to everyone that has called or messaged me. Please forgive me if I haven’t responded yet. I’m still trying to get my wind back.
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