A ROSE AND A NAIL - The Road Back Home

The road back home
The road back home

78 to Birmingham


A Rose and a Rusty Nail

Familiar landmarks along highway 78 drew me closer to Birmingham, my home town. I stopped at a roadside fruit stand and asked the lady if the old Barrett house was still standing. “Yes,” she said. “Mr. Miller owns that land now. He farms it, but the house is still there. He says he plans to do some repairs on it and rent it out.” I had been years away from home and my job in sales brought me through Alabama. Like a homing pigeon, I wanted to return, to see the roots of my beginnings.

Turning off the highway onto the gravel road, I caught the aroma of honeysuckle along the banks and rolled my windows down. Driving slowly, taking in the familiar landscape, I am surprised that nothing much has changed. It is still tranquil, still strong, and still very much a part of my being.


The Hickory Tree

Stopping at the edge of the overgrown driveway, I sat in the car for a few minutes listening to the small voices of memory, the story tellers, the songs, and laughter that came easy. Then I opened the car door and walked with careful steps through a maze of grass and weeds.

'There’s the old hickory tree', standing tall as ever. The big limb that once held a long rope and tire swing, was still strong, ladened with nuts. I reached down and picked up a couple and tried cracking them with my bare hand with no result, dropping them to the ground.

'And there’s where mama’s rose garden was', right by the kitchen window. Part of the brick border was missing and it was covered with weeds and broken glass. Walking closer, I noticed a spot of color among the tangled mess and reached for a stick to poke around. A smile came across my face and a rush of joy filled my heart. It was a rose bud! Red, and reaching up to the light. It was as if mama was welcoming me back home.


Sense enough to come in out of the rain

A big raindrop hit my head and my shoulder. It was one of those threatening little summer showers that didn’t last long. A thin gray cloud hovering still with luminous edges and the sun from behind threw out silver beams like a star. Farmers wouldn’t ever take cover for one of these, but honoring the old cliché, (having sense enough to come in out of the rain), I jumped upon the porch. I watched the sun-filled silver drops of water spread over the open fields that gave manna to a family of 5 boys and 3 girls.

John Dawson and Carlotta Barrett, my parents, were childhood sweethearts. Papa inherited the 60 acres of farm land and the house, built by Grandpa Barrett with his own two hands. Papa loved every inch of dirt and every living thing on that farm. Although there was not a show of affection between John and Carlotta, they treated each other kindly, gentle and respectful.

Growing up, we were not coddled. We were expected to do our fair share of work. We learned to swim in a warm pond of tea colored water. We had fist fights that left bruises which appeared and disappeared. Always, but always, I knew a brother had my back in times of need.

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Inside

The rain fell soft as I edged the swollen front door open enough to squeeze through. The living room was in pretty good shape. The fire place was boarded up and the glass chandelier yellowed by time. My steps echoed as I walked across the empty room into a bedroom. This was Betty Jane’s room. She loved the teal green color on the walls and she absolutely had the coolest room in the house. I will never forget the day I was sick and stayed home from school and Mama let me take a nap on her bed by the window. I fell asleep listening to the distant drone of Papa’s John Deere tractor and Betty Janes's sheer curtains billowing in and out brushing against my hand.

A white blanket of dust covered the kitchen counters and spider webs clung to the cabinets. A wasp had built a nest on the ceiling and was bumping his nose against a window pane trying to get out. But in my mind was a scene from happy times, bursting joys of life. Cake baking, birthday parties and Sunday dinners. My favorite piece of furniture was in this kitchen. Grandpa Barrett built a huge oak table with long benches to match. We sat four on one side and four on the other. This was the family therapy center. We complained about too much homework, talked about our problems, shared school projects, and held hands and ask for grace. Then there was mama’s soul filling pies. Mmmm, mmm.

A last look

The sun is shining now and the rain is gone. I closed the door to the house that built me, and paused to take a last look around. I laid my hand on the side of the house and patted it, saying out loud, “Good job old house. Your walls hold children's laughter, cries of newborns, and prayers lifted up to God. Well done.” Under my hand was a nail. A rusted square head nail. Grandpa had touched that very nail, I was sure. It was loose, so I wedged it back and forth, pulled it out and put it in my shirt pocket.

Feeling a sense of wholeness, I turned the car key and backed out to leave, but I stopped. Leaning across the seat, I scrambled around in the car pocket for something sharp, something that would cut. A pair of nail clippers would do. I rolled my pant legs up to my knees and stepped high over the wet grass and cut that rose bud. Now, I was ready to go.

Turning left on the highway, I heard the gears shift up to 55 mph, leaving behind a lifetime of images. On my dashboard, a rose and a rusty nail to remind me of all I have loved.

Family pictures below.

This Ole House

Source: anndavis25

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Comments 45 comments

Sunnie Day 4 years ago

My dear Ann,

This my friend is the most beautiful story I have read in my last year on hubs. It touched my heart so much. How blessed to go back and feel the past greet you with such love. Your home was filled with such richness that it is no wonder you turned out to be the wonderful woman you are today. I felt each movement, and hearbeat as you described your surroundings. The old house has such character. Thank you so much for sharing your story. The pictures were priceless. I know you thank God for the family ties you shared there so long ago. The rose was put there I have no doubt for such a time, a gift from the Almighty, letting you know that the love lives on.

God bless,

Sunnie


neeleshkulkarni profile image

neeleshkulkarni 4 years ago from new delhi

the house never went away anywhere friend it was always within you ,the visit just brought that out.Nail or no nail. rose or no rose it is secure in a place where no one can take it from you.

very softly made its way into my heart and brought a tear to the eye- this hub of yours.voted up


ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 4 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

I can't tell you how much I enjoyed your story...especially the part about the nail. I hope you will keep the nail always. Thanks for sharing such a nice story!

Thelma


billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

I love this story...in truth much more than I thought I would...which is of course a testament to your writing ability...great hub!


writer20 profile image

writer20 4 years ago from Southern Nevada

Beautiful story all about your family. It's great to have good memories like yours. Voted up and awesome, Joyce


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

I did listen. I enjoyed it. My family is the same!Thanks for the share!


DonnaCosmato profile image

DonnaCosmato 4 years ago from USA

How I envy you! Our old homeplace burned down before I could enjoy one more visit or get a momento. This was incredible, and I loved the pictures:) Voted up.


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

Oh how I loved this one Ann;your Trip down memory lane is so full of happy times memories and I shared your emotions as we went form room to room !

I enjoyed your photos while listening to This Ole House;I have never heard of The Statler Brothers but I remember this song sung by Shakin Stevens many years ago;this one has to be awarded my 'up up and away.'

Thank you once more Ann and have a wonderful weekend.

Eddy.


ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 4 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

I just wanted to add another comment to say this should be voted as "Hub of the Day". I voted up and beautiful!

Thelma


Dave Mathews profile image

Dave Mathews 4 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

What a lovely story and I loved all the photos too. Thank you.


lilyfly profile image

lilyfly 4 years ago from Wasilla, Alaska

This was wonderful! You have a great gift Anna! Thank you! lily


anndavis25 profile image

anndavis25 4 years ago from Clearwater, Fl. Author

'Letting me know that the love lives on' ...I love that comment. Your comments are so encouraging. I have made up my mind, Sunnie...I don't hate you. Love, Ann


anndavis25 profile image

anndavis25 4 years ago from Clearwater, Fl. Author

Neeleshkulkami, so nice to have you as a new friend. I have checked you out, you witty man. Come back and see me. Thanks for the look-see.


anndavis25 profile image

anndavis25 4 years ago from Clearwater, Fl. Author

Thelma, always pleased to have a new hubber. Thank you for the comment. Glad to share with you. Come again. Ann Davis


anndavis25 profile image

anndavis25 4 years ago from Clearwater, Fl. Author

My new friend, Billybuc. Thank you for reading, and am flattered by your comment. I'll see you around.

Have a great weekend. Ann


anndavis25 profile image

anndavis25 4 years ago from Clearwater, Fl. Author

Your votes are counted, Joyce. Thank you.


anndavis25 profile image

anndavis25 4 years ago from Clearwater, Fl. Author

Becca, glad to share the Statler Bros song. They are the best. Also, thank you for the comment.

Have a wonderful weekend. Ann


anndavis25 profile image

anndavis25 4 years ago from Clearwater, Fl. Author

Your vote is counted, Donna, and appreciated. Sorry about the homeplace. It's sad to lose a house by fire. It makes you feel you can't go home again, but of course we can, in memory. Thanks, we will share again here on hubs. Ann


anndavis25 profile image

anndavis25 4 years ago from Clearwater, Fl. Author

Hi Eddy. I enjoyed writting this one. It was fun. Glad you liked it. Glad you and I can share our writing, thanks to Hubs. Love, Ann


anndavis25 profile image

anndavis25 4 years ago from Clearwater, Fl. Author

Oh, you're back! What a treat! So sweet to mention "Hub of the Day"...and thank you for the votes, and vote of confidence. It's encouraging. Have a great weekend. Ann


anndavis25 profile image

anndavis25 4 years ago from Clearwater, Fl. Author

Anytime, Mr. Dave Mathews. Glad you stopped by, and shared this story with me. Have a wonderful weekend, Ann


anndavis25 profile image

anndavis25 4 years ago from Clearwater, Fl. Author

Awww, Lily. Could it be I really got a comment from the great poet? Yes! So my day is complete. Goodnight, sleep well. Ann


Sunnie Day 4 years ago

Hello Ann..I am Happy you do not hate me???..that would break my heart...:( lol


Sunnie Day 4 years ago

love ya too ;)


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 4 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

annadavis25, that is quite the journey that you took us all on with you. I can sense the rush of emotion that swept over you as you stepped inside your old home. Well done.


anndavis25 profile image

anndavis25 4 years ago from Clearwater, Fl. Author

Thank you mckbirdbks. It was fun to write, I have to admit, most of it was fiction.

Always appreciate your comments.


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 4 years ago from United Kingdom

Hello Ann, this is so beautiful, I cried...

Thank you for allowing us to share this trip down memory lane, what a privilege.

Writing at it's best, thank you again.

Best wishes Lesley

Voted up and shared.


ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 4 years ago

I can only say one thing ,haunting ! This mirrors my own experiences in 'going back' to a place , to a time that is ,no more !awesome .


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 4 years ago from Texas

A very touching and beautiful experience. I recently did a similar thing with my mother going back for a visit to her old home place. There was such a rush of memories and a certain sadness that it had all come to an end over time. Thanks much for sharing. Up and beautiful! WB


bell du jour profile image

bell du jour 4 years ago from Ireland

Hi Ann, what a beautiful story, and some beautiful photos too:-) I really enjoyed reading it, many thanks for sharing.

Bell


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 4 years ago

What a beautiful and extremely moving piece of writing. I went home as well, but I was touched by a deep sadness because everyone I loved was gone. Up and beautiful and awesome, too!


anndavis25 profile image

anndavis25 4 years ago from Clearwater, Fl. Author

Yes, breakfastpop, sometimes it can be sad. It can stir up both good and bad memories.

Thank you for the votes.


anndavis25 profile image

anndavis25 4 years ago from Clearwater, Fl. Author

Thank you Bell. Glad you enjoyed it.


anndavis25 profile image

anndavis25 4 years ago from Clearwater, Fl. Author

Wayne, there is a touch of sadness among the ruins, but making peace with yesterday is acceptance of who you are today. When you're young, everything is up close like looking through binoculars. When you're older it's reverse, and the perspective is from a distance.


anndavis25 profile image

anndavis25 4 years ago from Clearwater, Fl. Author

ahorseback, You can't go home again, can you? It is a sobering experience.

Thanks for the visit.


anndavis25 profile image

anndavis25 4 years ago from Clearwater, Fl. Author

Movie Master, you cried? Me too. Sometimes it's sad to visit the ruins of what was. But mixed up in all that debris you wlll find a rose.

Love it when you visit.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

Dear Ann,

This is one of the most endearing and touching hubs that I have read on HubPages in a long time. Your writing brought us along on that dusty road and into that weedy yard and dilapidated house right along with you. However your memories of what you experienced in your home with your loving family colored it and brought it alive. Absolutely loved this! Your memories and the photos and your words DO deserve a Hub of the Day...that and more. Up votes and will share this with my followers.

I know that you will keep that rusty nail tucked safely away in addition to all of your lovely memories.


Faceless39 profile image

Faceless39 4 years ago from The North Woods, USA

I love old photos and the stories that go with them. I too have revisited the house I grew up in (though it was desert-scaped and painted fluorescent blue when I went back!)

There's no place like home, mostly because of the memories, which your display of photographs has captured expertly.

Voted up, awesome, and beautiful.


LadyLyell profile image

LadyLyell 4 years ago from George, South Africa

I have traveled the road and memories with you, so touching and I'll tell you why.

In a few weeks time I will be leaving my country of birth with mixed emotions but the last thing I'll now do is return to my grandmothers house where I spent much of my childhood. Just have to say "good bye" and this will close the chapter on my life in Australia. You have given me the idea to take away a little momento.

The photos are lovely and what a pretty family you have.

This trip down memory lane has made my day, thank you!


anndavis25 profile image

anndavis25 4 years ago from Clearwater, Fl. Author

Lady, may blessings go with you as you leave your country. I know it will be an adventure with mixed blessings. Yes, take a momento with you to remind you of new hope, new beginnings. Good luck, God Bless.

Thank you for visiting.. AD


anndavis25 profile image

anndavis25 4 years ago from Clearwater, Fl. Author

Going back has mixed feelings, Faceless. When we are young we are up close and see things magnified. When we leave and return, it's like looking through the other end of binoculars...it seems far away with a different perspective. Thank you for the votes. I agree with you and Dorothy of OZ...'There's no place like home'.


anndavis25 profile image

anndavis25 4 years ago from Clearwater, Fl. Author

Peggy, when I first logged on to hubpages, I was confused about a lot of things, and I felt comfortable writing you a couple of times and you were generous with hints and advice. I thank you for that. There is still a lot for me to learn but I feel encouraged when I get comments from someone of your experience.

Thank you for the encouragment, the advice, and the votes. You have a heart as big as...as....well..TEXAS!


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 4 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

Ann, such a lovely story this is. I love old houses and old memories. Thank you for sharing your story and the beautiful pictures that also tell a story.

UP Awesome Beautiful


Gracefulwriter profile image

Gracefulwriter 4 years ago from Northern Virginia

Oh, Ann! This is such a lovely hub. The pictures are so evoking of emotion. So sweet. I feel like it's my home. I love it. Thank you. So often, I visit hubs and feel moved to start a new hub w/ pictures and past senses of my own. Just thank you.


anndavis25 profile image

anndavis25 4 years ago from Clearwater, Fl. Author

You are so welcome, Graceful. Happy that you stopped by and glad to share with you.

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