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The Saturday Journal: In the Presence of a Memory

It was simpler times of innocent play, laughter, conversation, and ice cream stained t-shirts--times sitting under the big tree on lazy Sunday afternoons in the front yard with family—uncles, aunts, cousins, my Granny Rhodes and my step-grandfather.


Sunday afternoon drivers, they would pass by —some blowing their horns—others smiling—hands waving outside open car windows. And I dare say maybe a few were a little envious of our family Sunday afternoon gatherings and the love they saw Sunday after Sunday —under the shade of the Rhodes’ family tree.



And there were Sundays us cousins and the younger of the aunts would go exploring on the farm--get in a little summer mischief from time to time. On the farm were many buildings and nooks and crannies to explore-- the barn and corncrib, the granary, the egg house and pig pen, and the pole barn where the tractors were parked. And a few of those areas were off limits to us. The pole barn was a big no--absolutely no playing on the tractors or even around the tractors. But, you know as well as I do--sometimes kids just don't listen.


So here we were, three or four of us kids--aging from eight to eleven--maybe a little older--as I remember it, off to explore and somehow we ended up at the pole barn. And we were climbing on and off the tractors--grasping the steering wheels--pretending to mow the open fields of tall grass and jumping from one tractor to another. It was a game of sorts until it wasn't fun and one of us, rather than stepping off the tractor decided to get brave and jump onto one of the steel oil barrels--also known as a drum of grease. And it was all fun and games until the lid of this one particular drum wasn't sealed tight and one of the "said kids" leg plunged down into the barrel of thick black oil.


Now, there was no getting out of this without telling those in authority and I can't remember who ran to tell the adults, but it wasn't me. I was the "said kid" with the leg covered in black slimy grease up to my shorts. I do remember hobbling up to the back door of my Granny's house and before going in I was wrapped into a towel. And I was instructed to go into the house and crawled on top of the kitchen table and lay still! The cleaning thus began.


I opened the door slowly to the small building pieced together with shards of cement and cinder blocks. The dry, musty air rushed to my face and the remembrance of the aroma of freshly gathered eggs filled my senses. 


How many days have I spent in this place? In the egg house.


As I touched the dusty conveyer belt, I recall the clanking of the eggs as they would roll down the line–as the weighing machine determined its fate.  Would the weight of the egg make the cut?  Would it be a market egg or would it be tomorrow’s breakfast? 


I turned and there you were, sitting on your favorite stool with all the dirty eggs piled inside the sunshine colored wire basket.  Picking up each delicate egg with care, you would dip them in the soiled water and then begin the final process of carefully cleaning the egg shell with the small sandpapered block. You always did get the dirtiest of eggs.  


Blood was trickling down your arm.  And I remember the story...


“You can’t wear red in the chicken house,” Granny Rhodes tells me. “They don’t like it.” 


And me, I laugh. Chickens tell me I can’t wear red?


Two times a day, seven days a week we carry the rusty egg baskets in empty and carry them out full.  White eggs, oval eggs, brown eggs, and eggs covered with you know–like I said, those go in my Granny’s basket.  


And on this day I have on red.  And I’m not going to change clothes. These chickens work for my Granny–for my family--for me.


The fumes are bad today–a stench only a rat could love.  My basket is half-full and then it happens. I make eye contact with the head rooster.  He’s strutting, looking like a bull in an arena that just saw his target–his red cape waving in the wind.  We lock eyes. I give him a nod and he turns and walks the other way.  


What happened to your arm, Granny Rhodes? 


And she replies, “Rooster got me.  He didn’t like my red.” 


My uncle places yet another basket of eggs at my feet–ready for weighing.  I glance her way and she laughs at me.  And I can’t help but smile back at her. 



If I had my days to live over with you, I would tell you I love you more.  I would tell you so much your ears would tire of hearing.  I would help you clean the dirty eggs and protect you from the rooster.  I would never complain about how I smelled or the chicken feathers in my hair. And I would thank you for not getting mad at me for playing on the tractors and falling in the barrel of grease.


We would tell stories–you and me–many stories–funny ones, so I could hear your laughter. And I would hug you ever so tight and ask if you could please, stay a little longer. 


The old pole barn still stands--the rust eating away at the tin walls--a slow death of sorts. The old tractors and the barrels of grease--gone. And the egg house--the door is locked.


And there will be days--often weeks when frustrations can mount up to the size of Everest. And on those days--weeks, rather than spiraling like a tumbleweed--it could be, all we need is to go back and be in the presence of a memory.


 

A humble and heartfelt thank you for reading The Saturday Journal.

My prayer is to share The Saturday Journal every Saturday or at least bi-weekly--

but always on Saturdays. If you would like to have The Saturday Journal come to your email box, please subscribe to A Beautiful Grace blog and newsletter at









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Oh how I need to go back to precious memories many days. I also would have hugged family members a little tighter and a little longer.

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