Grimm's Musings: 'Dear Son'
H.R. Grimm is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or wilsoncountynews.com.
This is one in a series of short stories called "Life Down the Road" written to my Army Son beginning in 2002 through 2009:
Let me tell you some more things about Life Down the Road. Tonight I drove past the old Putnam farm. There isn't much left standing of what I can remember of it as a child. The entrance down off the main road and the whole place seemed bigger when I was younger. Even then, much of the living that had graced that chosen acreage had passed into other people's memory long before I came along. There were twelve children born into that family; eleven girls and one boy. The stories of love, hard work, heartache, squabbles, and commitment to each other that filled up that place with life, I heard from my own mother who was one of those so blest to be part of that family. Those stories would make anyone homesick to be there as these children were raised! My own dear mother has also passed into my memory. It pains me to think my own children didn't get to drink longer from the well of life that she had. The old house has been vacant more years than I care to remember. It is barely visible from the road, the neatly trimmed yard is over grown like a forgotten prairie. If you take the time to look, you can see that one part of the house has fallen in, the old wash house is completely gone, the fence is gone, but farther back the barn still stands. It's odd to have something so etched into one's mind as vividly as I remember that place and then see it as it is now. As I recall on the side of the house opposite of the main road was the back porch. Beehives lined the side to the left as you drove down to the house. This old house was built by the father, swept by the wife and children. It was a slower paced life even with all those children around. Coal oil lamps provided a calm light as the dusk turned into night. Water was fetched from a cool, clear spring, and hand carried in a bucket to the house. The kitchen had a gas stove and a refrigerator which was also powered by gas. There was a fruit cellar under the back porch where many of the fruits from the orchard and garden were canned and then kept to be used through the winter months. The children had all grown into adulthood and left to raise their own families by the time I became conscious of it. I can still see the chickens, a few cows, and the elderly couple who lived there when I was less than 10 years old. If I listen, I can hear their voices, their laughter, and sense that youthful wonder at such relaxed maturity that this place held. If a person drove down to the house off the main road, they would find themselves coming to a rose arbor entrance with a small gate. Entering that gate on the way to the house, they would walk past the wash house on their left and come to the screened in back porch. There was about three steps up into that back porch. A couple of wooden rocking chairs would be facing out to call you to sit. As a person walked up onto the porch through the screen door there was a door to enter into the kitchen to the right or walk straight ahead and enter the living room. The house was simple, but enough; two bedrooms, a living room, and a kitchen with an area for the big supper table. Heat was provided by gas heaters that sat about two feet out from the wall.
I tell you about this place because memories are what we have to fill our lives up with. Each day we make memories that we will carry with us from this moment forward. The decisions that each person makes will be that which lightens their load of the stresses of life or becomes an ever increasing burden to carry. As I looked at that old farm and I think of all the lives that have been touched by those who lived there, I can't help but wonder if the couple who married, started a family, built a little farm, and moved into my memory, ever had any idea the impact that they would make. So many people pass by this old place and probably have no idea who lived there once upon a time. Yet, we are like that old Putnam farm in that we live each day, having to make a choice to love, work hard, endure heartache, learn to negotiate squabbles, and become committed to something and Someone bigger than ourselves. Each of us are filling up someone's memory about this body we call "home" for such a short amount of time that we call our life. Someday, someone is going to see what is left of us from a distance by the stories they may have heard about us. I hope that when they hear about my life and the family that I raised, I hope they will be homesick to be there as a child.
I love you, Son. The future begins now.