Husband. Father. Artist. Writer. Seeker.
The Living Belongs With The Living
I have this hat. Its life has long passed, and it isn't even wearable anymore. This hat is threadbare and ripping apart at the seams. I have another hat similar to it that is still wearable. It's the hat that I wear on my head all the time. There is nothing exceptional about either cap. Just a couple of camouflage hats, like any other one. It has a couple of stains on it, and it smells funky on warm days. (I do wash it when it gets like that). The value of this hat for me is the memories associated with it.
The Last Summer
It was an abnormally cool last day of summer. The sky was overcast, and showers and thunderstorms had been coming and going all day. The rain provided soothing background noise for Ed and gave him something to listen to, other than the ticking of the clock on the wall. The gray overcast weather matched his mood. Ed was born on this farm, lived his whole life on this farm. He met the love of his life on this farm. And now, Ed is dying on this farm. At eighty-two years old, he hasn't farmed the land in years. His wife, Beatrice (Betty to him and only him), passed away some twenty-five years ago. Madly in love since they were teenagers, they had taken over the farm from Ed's father. Heartbreakingly, Beatrice and Ed were unable to have children of their own, so there would be no one to pass the farm on to. Just as his life was coming to an end, the farm's life was as well.
Just Get There
In case you missed part 1, The Start, here it is. The sky had regained the haze that had lifted a few days ago. Jessa had traveled for four days now and found the journey thus far a little boring. She still hadn't seen another person, and the only animal she saw was a fox. She got a clear view of it as it ran away and remembered it from the books her dad had used to teach her. Each morning when she got up, he was the first thing that came to her mind. She felt colossal remorse and guilt for leaving him there, but she had no choice. Even though he was dead, the thought of him lying there, out in the woods, alone, brought her to tears. She thought of him and their homestead. She thought of the place she was going and if it would be everything her father had said it would be. He spent a year teaching her and prepping her to make this journey with him, and making this journey alone would test Jessa's will, strength, and bravery. She was confident she could do it.
His profile picture drew me in. He was ruggedly good-looking, wearing an old camo hat. He had beautiful blue eyes and a scruffy beard, and His plain t-shirt highlighted his broad shoulders and toned chest. His jeans fit just right and looked dingy as if he had been working outside in a dirt pile. His work boots were well used. You could see the veins on his hairy arms, and it was evident from his picture that he was a blue-collar guy.
My Firekeeper and I
We have a great thing, my fire-keeper and I. He knows the things that will speak to my soul. Like how I love to sit by the fire and how he listens to my ideas as I ramble. The fire he keeps, and tends to so diligently, as if he was created for this very job, keeps me warm and sets my creativity ablaze. On a windy fall night, it is next to the golden glow that I have my best ideas, thoughts, and plans for new creations. It is within the circle of warmth my fire-keeper and I have discussions about big things. Like how awesome it is to be sitting by the fire on a crisp night, after our daily work is done, and keep vigil with the farmer on the next hill harvesting his corn at night before a drastic weather change marks the end of Indian summer. We talk about love. We talk about death. We talk about ourselves as a couple. We talk about our dreams and where we will be in five years, ten years. We talk about growing old together and having our children and grandchildren come home for the holidays. In this circle, it is safe to speak of such fragile things. In this sanctuary, we are far away and protected from the cold realities of the world.
The Songs We Sing
With four children in our house, we read stories all the time—stories after lunch, when it is time to calm down and get ready for a nap. Stories before dinner, while dinner was cooking in the oven. And, of course, stories at bath time. We had a book that was waterproof, full of silly little bath time stories. Reading was a constant activity in our home until bedtime.
Just Get There
As she sat in her father's chair by the fireplace, exhausted, Jessa stared at the heart-shaped locket and chain piled in her blood-stained palm. The gold shimmered in the late afternoon sun shining through the cabin window. She knew it was her mother's locket, but only because that is what her father told her. She has no real memories of her mother; just recycled memories from her father's stories. Now that her father was dead, the stories were all she had left of her parents and their life before the collapse. The stories and the locket. She slumped back in the chair, dropping the locket and necklace on the table next to the chair. Physically and emotionally exhausted, she drifted off to sleep, her father's final words resonating in her head.