Sunday, July 24, 2011

Stepping on Graves

I painted my toenails acid green for summer.

After slogging through the the 19th Century American Literature in June, I couldn't wait for a little rest, a little fun.  And what could be more fun than acid green toenails?

And they did cheer me up.  Every time I looked at them, I giggled a bit.  My neurologist joked that I must be doing better if I could reach my toes to paint them green.  He said he knew I had painted them because no one else would have done it to me.  I don't know.  They looked kind of spiffy.  I was intending to take a picture to show you and write about that. 

I didn't get the picture taken and now they are really needing to be redone. 

See, I went home to Tennessee for a few days to see the old home place that got out of my family for a few years, something like 30 years, really.  My sister bought it last month, and we were all tickled to see the place back in the family.  So I went home to inspect it and to bring my mom back here in San Antonio for a visit.  She's here now.  It wasn't her home place but the other side of the family--my paternal grandmother's home.  Lots of history there in that old ramshackle house by the pond.  I lived many years across the road from the farmland part of that piece of land.  Not such good memories for me there.  I have exercised demons from some other family land on previous trips home and by signing some of it over to a church for land for the kids to play.  I hoped for a positive experience last week.

Sherry couldn't wait to show me the place, so we went there on the way back from the airport.  I was wearing my brown flip flops and sporting my green toenails.  Not exactly good farm shoes.  A good neighbor farmer had cleared us a place to drive right up to the pond.  Getting out, we took some pictures and walked the place.  The old home where my grandmother was born had been moved by a previous owner to the back of the property for use as a shed for hay and feed for cows.  It was surrounded by a little woods that was thick with poison ivy.  Sherry is allergic; I'm not.  I blazed the trail, so I spent a lot of time looking at the ground and at my feet picking their way through to find a safe path for her.  Payback for many times when my big sister did the same for me with people much more nefarious (although just as toxic) as poison ivy.  I learned early to watch my step.  Snakes, rotten boards, sharp sapling stumps, bad relatives--pretty much the same.  Our Uncle Tuck killled himself in the room that had been turned into a shed for the cows to escape a storm.  No floor, three walls down, just a shed.  The 80-some-year-old man who bought the farm once fell through the roof putting up tin and was laid out with broken bones for hours until he finally crawled to the road for help.  Sometimes, it can be a long road.

My mom did come home with me for a visit to San Antonio.  She is 82 and has whipped lymphoma but has weakened considerably.  She has a bad back with more metal than bone holding it all together.  All this meant she needed a wheelchair assist through the airport.  You'd think with all the security complications that a wheelchair would add to the headaches of air travel.  Surprisingly, the skycaps, the fast lane for wheelchairs, and the early boarding made it easier to travel with a wheelchair-bound mommy than without one.  Sometimes, it all evens out. 

So here we are in San Antonio.  I am a little later than I had hoped writing from my "Write, Eat, Post, Bathe" group's prompt about feet. 

I thought about feet all week--in the airport, with green toenails, dusty with ancestor dirt, up on the footrests of a wheelchair in the Memphis airport.  I also thought about some other feet.  One other day when we were in Tennessee, I did some research for a book of short stories I am writing and for some genealogy I am doing.  My flip-flop-shod feet walked over the bones of the Thompson family members who came in a group from Alamance County, North Carolina to Dancyville, Tennessee around 1850.  They spread out and married and had children.  One of the grandchildren of that bunch, James Rawlin Thompson, married the woman who was born in that house up by a pond, Emma Sue Bourne.  They had my daddy, who, with a little help from Mom, had me.  He held on to me in more ways than one for many years after I had crossed an ocean to make a new life for myself.  My feet have carried me all the way and walked the floor with a daughter of my own.  It's almost too much to take in for a little posting on a blog.

Now, I am listening to my husband and my mother talk about the TV program they are watching on the Hallmark Channel about pioneers.  I just want to hit the "publish post" button and go change my toenail color to shocking blue.  I am having fun this summer.  And I am getting somewhere.

I hope your feet take you to interesting places as well.


  1. I like that... and acid green sounds cool.... two weeks ago I has polka dots... our feet do take us places.... good point... I'll be pondering that one.
    Thanks Cyn.

  2. This is rich, indeed, Cynthia. Loved this post. Took me to my own childhood home...

  3. Cyn, this is a beautifully haunting piece of work. I want to tell you how glad I am that you survived, that your feet have been sturdy enough to carry you and your story.

  4. Wonderful, Cyn. I can almost hear, reading this, the beginnings of the stories you are probably writing about that house.


Feel free to critique the poetry. I employ a sophisticated thick hide technology.