A Photograph of me without me in it

A Photograph of me without me in it
A photograph of me without me in it

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Trestle

At the YMCA the other day, my very smart phone decided to play Tony Rice’s  bluegrass song, The Green Light on the Southern, Southern Railroad Line.” It was hard not to sing along to the refrain:
Oh, if I could return to those boyhood days of mine,
And the green light on the southern, southern railroad line.

Like Billy Collins’ narrator when he encounters the word “lanyard”
in the dictionary, the song whisked me into the past, and I recalled trips over Spring Hope’s railroad trestle with my Granddaddy Edwards. I must have been two or three when we climbed the trestle’s stairs and threw a penny on top of the train as it traveled under us.

I believe we did this multiple times: I remember the anticipation of going, and I’m the only one who remembers our trips up the trestle. My dad has shared other memories of Granddaddy and me together. Dad remembers that I loved to ride in the back of Granddaddy’s blue Ford pick-up. One day, Granddaddy wanted me to go to “the farm” where my grandmother had grown up and my Great Aunt Ben, her sister Aunt Leona, and Aunt Leona’s husband Uncle Bill still lived. I said I would go only if we could go in Granddaddy’s truck, which Granddaddy had loaned to a brother, but he retrieved the truck so that I would ride with him.

I suppose that story’s true: I have always loved blue pick-up trucks, though it’s never been practical to own one. I like the story because it shows how much my grandfather adored me. It also reveals my early bossy tendency.

In a photo, my grandfather holds me up to the mantle, by the family’s grandmother clock. My baby book tells me that after “Mom” and “Dad,” one of my first words was “clock.”

Another story my father tells is about the day my Granddaddy and I walked around the block in Spring Hope, (the NC town voted most like Andy Griffith's Mayberry), and we encountered broken glass on the sidewalk. I pointed to the mess and said, “Some bad boys did that, probably.” My grandfather was impressed that I had used the word “probably,” which I have long thought was because of the vocabulary, but lately I’ve been thinking that he was impressed with the concept, my thought that my assumptions were not necessarily true. This story I like because it not only suggests my precociousness but also shows my grandfather was wise, something other stories indicate as well.  My dad quotes Granddaddy’s advice on raising children: “Love them and enjoy them and raise so that other people will, too.”

Once, my grandfather’s Southern Baptist minister, Dr. Blackmoor, gave a sermon in which he talked about the two angels he had known in his life. One was my grandfather. I like to think about the angels in my life, too. This grandfather was one, though I didn’t know him long.

Mom told me about our trip to the cemetery after my grandfather’s burial. She recalls that she tried to explain to me that Granddaddy was under the ground there. She says I just looked puzzled, looked at the ground for a while, and then pointed up to the clouds. Like I said: precocious.

This grandfather, whom I knew for such a short time, is one of the angels in my life. I believe he's still with me. 

As I’ve told you before, I’m lucky.