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An excert from my ebook "River of Memories"
River of Memories
A portion of my ebook for your consideration
The old man shook his head vigorously, as if to rid his mind of the path it has chosen. “Not today” he said to himself. “I don’t want to travel that way today. I know there is a time to mourn those close friends and family that have left this world; but not now; not today. Today will be for good memories; fond remembrances of those gone away; gone ahead. Not for the tragic losses of those gone too early, or with sand still left in the hourglass of their life. I want to have wonderful memories flood my mind and take me back to the days I most cherish; back to the days when my family still clung together tightly, to when the circle of life still eddied around my wife.” With that thought, he shut the door on those memories which were bent on forcing pain and suffering into his here and now, and looked ahead to the pleasant past.
He hadn’t been to his river in a long time; not since his youngest son had last visited. He tried to remember when that had been: was it the previous autumn, or had it been the year before that? He shook his head. He had reached the point in his life where time seemed to run together; like a number of small streams merging together to create a larger one, the years had merged together to produce one long, unbroken river bubbling with the memories of a life filled with love and laughter, as well as tears and heartache. Now it seemed as though all of those he had loved and cherished most had left him; even his beloved wife of over forty years had finally succumbed to health issues. She had always told him that he was not allowed to be the one to pass first, and leave her alone in this world; that he had to hang on, and she would be the one who passed from this world first. Somehow, it had come to be just as she had desired. Now, though, he wasn’t sure what kept him going. Most days he felt as though he simply existed, the way he had before her. Their children called only occasionally; sometimes, months would pass without a call. To hear from or see all of them in one year now was unusual. They rarely visited; once every year or so. Without her presence to bind them all together, the family unit had tended to go their own way; each person splintering off to find their own way in life. In his here and now, it seemed that most of the time he spent alone, either inside his own memories, the ones which were still somewhat clear; or else reading. He still enjoyed reading, although his eyes had deteriorated over the years to a point where he needed stronger glasses than in years past. He had a few favorites that he read, more for the company they gave him than anything else. He knew them by heart, and treated each book as a long held friend, but it was easier to read them and relive them than to try to remember the stories himself.
He went back into the house and sat down at the table to finish his glass of milk. Looking above the doorway leading from the kitchen to the dining room, he read the sign that they had purchased in a small store when they had first wed. “All because two people fell in love” it read, and truer words had never been uttered. He thought back the days when the old home had been full of raucous children, always seeming to hang out wherever their mother was. Oftentimes, they were in the kitchen, and either he or one of the boys would get into the refrigerator to pour a glass of milk or to make a sandwich. In those days, they would go through a gallon of milk a day or more; and a loaf of bread every couple of days. She would get after them about drinking so much milk, and they would in turn get after her about not drinking enough. He chuckled at the thought. Sometimes, the memories in this home surrounded him to the point he wouldn’t know what was now and what was then. Everywhere he looked he saw something that brought a memory to mind; around each corner and in every room lingered memories that rose to the surface of his mind without conscious thought. At this stage of his life, he knew of no other way of life. Shaking his head, he began cleaning up the kitchen.
It never took too long for him to complete his kitchen duties. The few pot and pans he owned were seldom used. For the most part, he lived on milk to drink, with the occasional glass of iced tea; and sandwiches of one type or another. Ham was a staple, what he ate more often than not, combined with some style of chips on the side. It had become a simple life. He had no need to cook for himself. Once, he had considered himself a good cook, and enjoyed helping out in the kitchen. He would take over the area, shooing everyone out while he produced a meal for all to enjoy. Breakfast dinners were a favorite of all. Bacon and eggs, pancakes, biscuits and gravy, French Toast; he would fix these for their dinner at odd times, and the children would devour them. One loaf of Texas Toast would not suffice for the French Toast portion of the meal; there always had to be another course to fill up those baby birds. They would go through over a dozen eggs or more at a time, even with other items on the menu. They were always hungry, and ate as if they were starving at times. He smiled at the memory of this. He had often told her that gravy was a food group unto itself, and should be enjoyed at every opportunity. His favorite meals, though, were those that were prepared during the holidays late in the year. He had learned long ago the secret of a moist turkey for Thanksgiving, and he was expected each year to fulfill his duty. His wife graciously thanked him, and smiled at each bite. He remembered how the children and their Mother would laughingly argue over who got the most pieces of skin off of the turkey. For some reason, they all had enjoyed eating that crispy, golden brown portion of the bird. He enjoyed those moments most of all. Now, it was one of the many moments he missed most of all. He had long ago come to a realization on what memories were to him: bittersweet thoughts of days gone by, filled with the love and laughter of the good times had, but flavored with the knowledge that they will never be again.