Saturday, January 14, 2006
The Lonely Home
I spent a couple hours visiting with a woman on Green Street; a little road in east Texas. It sits deep in the country, surrounded by towns such as Cason, Mt. Pleasant, Omaha, and Daingerfield. A lot of folks with the same last name as mine live on this road that you basically have to pull over to the side in order to let someone coming from the opposite direction go by.
Calsa was the woman's first name and when I met her, she'd seen a lot of years. Her home was warm inside. She had a lot of pictures on the walls and on tables in frames. Underneath her coffee table were stacks of photo albums. I wanted to look through them but I felt like I'd be intruding if I attempted to do so after only just recently meeting her.
Calsa spoke a lot about my grandfather and the kind of man he was. She said she could see a lot of me in him. Tears filled her eyes as she recalled the past and then she looked out the window. She pointed to an empty field sitting on the opposite side of Green Street. She told me that her grandmother lived there inside a very small home. She was alone for most of her life living there and used to wait days upon days for someone to visit or simply pass by. Calsa said she could relate to how her grandmother lived because her life had become very similar.
"It takes days for somebody to remember old Calsa. I guess times is different now and folks mind only got so much room in it. They only think about whoever they see right in front of them" she said.
I nodded in agreement. "Yes ma'am. Everyone is in a hurry, I guess--"
"And where you suppose they going?"
I couldn't answer Calsa's question. She continued to tell me about her grandmother. I pictured a woman who lived a lonely life without a means of getting around. Maybe she feared leaving her home and getting caught by darkness or being too far from home to get back. Calsa told me that whenever her grandmother did see someone coming up the road she'd wave and greet that person as if they were family.
"Grandma would just wave and wave... She'd smile and if the person stopped in front of her home, she'd offer them something to eat. Total strangers, mind you... I can't do that 'cause you never know who you might be inviting into your home but I do takes care of friends and family."
Calsa offered me some pound cake after that. I accepted because her home smelled like she had fresh pound cake sitting on the table somewhere. When she left the room and went into the kitchen, I picked up one of the framed photos sitting on the coffee table. I thought it was a picture of Calsa at first until I looked really closely and saw how somewhat different the facial features were. When Calsa returned she saw me with the picture in my hands. She smiled and said that was her grandmother.
"Okay, I thought it was you at first."
Calsa smiled. "No, that's Grandma. It's the only picture I have of her. I look at it from time to time and it make me think about myself. My life is full but it's mostly carried in memories that I have. Grandma tell me if you live long enough and your mind still good, you gonna have a good time 'cause your memories is what's gonna make you smile. I smile often chile and I pray for when somebody come up the road to visit me just as you has. Then I can share my gift..."
"Life is precious and eventhough you might say old Calsa look like she lonely, living in a lonely house, I'm doing just fine. Grandma was the same way. When somebody come around and they get to talking, that time spent becomes a precious memory she can hold onto forever. When I had a chance to visit with her, she tell me about those times back then on this lonely road and it's like I get to see how she lived and meet them folks she talk to. And now chile, through me you living what I been through and meeting those that come before me."
"Yeah, that's what it feels like..."
After a while I could sense Calsa getting tired so I excused myself and told her I would come back another day to visit with her. I did a few more times before I'd heard she passed on. Now her body resides in the family cemetery but her spirit I can see still standing on the porch of her country home on Green Street, waving goodbye. I look forward to visiting again the next time I'm down there cruising through east Texas...