Thursday, May 21, 2009

I have not had the courage to write about this yet, and as I sit here, composing in my head what I want to say, I'm not entirely sure I have it even now. We said goodbye to my Father In law a little over a month ago. He passed peacefully in his sleep, the early morning not even creeping purple over the trees when I got the call from my sobbing wife, conveying the most terrible news I had heard in my life.

I have been reflecting on him daily now for a month, and I've come to the conclusion (one that I knew even before we knew he was sick) that no luckier a man in the world is there than I, to have such a gentleman allow me to be part of his family. He was everything you could hope for in a Father In Law, and nothing you dreaded in one. He always made me feel welcome; when we'd come over to his house to visit, he'd always ask you if you wanted coffee or something else to drink. We'd talk about LSU football alot, he loved the Tigers, and when they played, very little could be done to tear him away from the TV until the end of the game. On those times when they were losing however, he couldn't bear to watch them and he'd turn away from the TV, as if witnessing a horrible train wreck.
He was, without question, devoted to my two sons, & never a better Grandfather have two boys had than him. If you ever saw him with my sons (or indeed his own wife and children), you'd know that there was absolutely no question that unconditional love exists in this world.

We talked alot, he and I. We would talk at length about the hunting, politics, weather,history, his love for carving decoys, and about family. Family was important to him, and it showed, he looked forward to weekly phone calls from Baton Rouge with his son, and his brother. He always wanted to hear what they were doing, how the fish were biting or what was in season for hunting at the time.
He loved to hunt, though in the past few years he hadn't been able to. But we could hear the first sounds of dove season from his front porch, and he'd get this far away smile and twinkle in his eyes
at every report from a shotgun we heard.

I always loved to sit with him on the front porch on late summer afternoons, when the sun was going down behind the house. He was so much more than a friend or Father In Law, and I genuinely loved him like a Father. I never told him that, though I should have. I still look at his rocking chair out there on the porch with hopeful eyes, hoping to see him, and I do. I see him everywhere, and it is a great comfort to me, knowing that in the coming years I will see him everywhere; whether it's on the deck grilling hamburgers and drunken chicken, in the late October mountains, picking apples with my boys, I will see him in so many places, because he has left such an indelible mark on my heart.

It hurts to walk in this world without him, it seems lonelier by a distinct measure, the skies are a little grayer, songs a little sadder. I don't think I was ever as disappointed by anything as when his cell phone plan was cancelled, because, at least while it was on, I could call and hear his voice one last time.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Last of the 'Pitmasters'

Traditional barbecue restaurants -- like Allen & Son, of Chapel Hill, N.C. -- aren't nearly as common as they once were, says John Shelton Reed, an emeritus professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Sages of North Carolina barbecue write a sweet and tangy history.

Monday, July 21, 2008

She sits in a quiet reverence,

a sack of groceries at her side,

riding the St.Charles line home

as she has done every day now

for almost forty years.

The route is mapped out before her,

sights and sound memorized

like the worn photos of her wedding day.

A strange comfort, these clanks and hums,

these breaks in the neutral ground.

She crosses herself as the churches pass by,

hands as delicate and soft as tissue,

as brown as the leaves on the trees passing by

in the bleak light of a late november afternoon

Oak, magnolia and willow,

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
A little old woman that sat across from my wife and I on the st.Charles Line trolley in New Orleans on our honeymoon. She looked ancient, tissue thin brown skin on hands that delicately moved to cross herself everytime we passed a catholic church. It was a beautiful act, this elderly woman honoring the Holy Spirit every time we passed the Host in another church. 8 years later, I can still see her in my mind as if it happened this morning.I wrote this in response to Katrina. in the hell filled days follwoing her landfall, I found myself worrying about this nameless woman, hoping she was safe with family somewhere else.

The Last Stand at Croft, N.C.

On down 115,

Sitting on top of soybean field,

rusted Norfolk Southern stories


VFW Hall

are pumpkins,

$5.99 each,

Sakrete, Gleen paints and Basic Slag

Tin washtubs, rank-in-file,

staunch, upright,alert,

stand vigil over wrought iron

and plate glass,

Oak Grove Barbecue (only $7.00 a plate),

Imperial Gas, and 8.9 acres for sale

on Bob Beatty Road.

Since 1890.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Spanish Town Porch

It occurs to me as I watch the January rain come down

in hard, grey Saturday afternoon sheets,

That I have loved these streets with

their damp laughter and dusty sighs,

I have savored moments spent under

this skeletal canopy, with its thin silvery specters

so many ghosts crowded into an empty doorway,

peering down in silence at laughing couples running

hand-in-hand down January's crooked sidewalk,

the call of calliope in pursuit of them

as they rush towards dry rooms and warm kisses.