Well, it has been 60 years now. It was an old house then. If we really pressed the issue, we could probably buy the place. But we’ve let it go. I’ve watched it turn itself back to nature. Weeds overtake the front porch where we sat and talked with Mable, Grandma, Roy, Lloyd, Daddy, JP, Martha and so many other loved ones. It sits there on that hill all alone.
I suppose I have been waiting on the resting souls to move in the hearts of the living. But life is not as easy as that. God does not seem to be a respecter of my fantasies. Any time I try to move one of those mountains, I am put in my place by those who don’t have a lot of faith in me.
Lately, I’ve been dreaming. I wish that I had the old home place. I can imagine cleaning up the old yard and getting rid of overgrown bushes so I can plant new things. I think of – no – I dream of a time when the kids can all come over and play the way I played. They can expect – fully expect – the rest of the family to appear there.
I don’t know why we cannot have it. I know my daddy would have wanted it that way. You have to think about it all from his point of view. As my daddy lay dying, he worried about the old home place. Why? You would think that he had enough to worry about. He knew his life was winding down, but when I promised him we would try to see after the old home place, he was grateful. He put his hands together like he was saying a prayer to me and he said, “Thank you. Thank you.”
Every time I see Howard, the first thing he asks me is, “How is everybody back home?” and then he asks, “Is the old house still there?”
It is very important to Daddy and Howard. Whatever it held for them, it holds for me. The thought of a bulldozer pushing that house down is more than I can bear to imagine. But it has been suggested more than once. There are those who have never known the magic of a home. Had it not been for that place, I would be among them.
The old house is an entity to me. It holds the spirits of the ones who felt the security of its shelter. After 60 years of struggle, Grandma found a safe place in this world. She took the only money that she received from the army that took her son, and she bought a home.
The monument stands to Roy, Mable, Grandma, Daddy, Tom, Charles and even Howard.
When we were little children, we made tiny ripples up there. From there, the ripples became waves that carried us all over the world. Now I am getting old too. I have ridden on some waves until they crashed and I have looked back to where my adventure began. There is a hush where my life started. There is a stillness where rocking chairs once rocked. No floor fan hums, no TV plays, no coffee perks and no dishes clink. No phone rings and no jokes are told. There is no garden. There are no apples. The gravel doesn’t let me know that an old, heavy car is slowly pulling in.
In a few windows, curtains still hang and an occasional breeze animates them and I can see ghosts. We’ve tried to have the power turned off for over a year. Georgia Power tells us that the power isn’t in our name and we can’t turn it off. They tell us that it is in the name of Charles W. Coker and he is the only one who can authorize this. I think Charlie is trying to tell us something. We don’t have the authority to end the life of that home.