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"Alone" 8

Updated on April 14, 2012
© Quill Collection
© Quill Collection

Fireside Welcome

Hello again all. I must apologies for letting this go for so long but life has a tendency to take over sometimes. Such as been the past few weeks. Just so many things happening and getting the yard ready for spring. Yes spring as we are having snow again tonight. I sometime wonder what I am doing here in tis kind of weather.

I do hope that you have all been well and keeping busy writing. I have been, still picking away at a novel called "The Fallen Barn" a Christian/Romance and it has come and gone from te place of taking off like a scared rabbit to standing still like a deer caught in the headlights. In any case it will get finished soon. As well editing three other novels I have completed so Amazon will get a flood soon.

Welcome again to the Fireside and as always you are invited to feel at home. Help yourself to all the goodies and especially the cookies as I know you will enjoy them. Word has it they have been enjoyed and that is so good to hear.

Well lets step into Chapter eight and see where this leads us tonight. Take a little peace with you and leave a little behind. Fell welcome to stay as long as you like.

© Quill Collection
© Quill Collection

"The Visit"

I had been in the city for four days and the feeling of being closed in was becoming overwhelming. I thought maybe a drive to the town where I grew up might be interesting because it had been nearly nine years since I had been back. I rented a car and began the short drive, stopping on the way at a few of the old haunts I used to frequent.

It was a cool day but the air changed as soon as I got out of the city. A heavy fog covered the familiar and started to break the farther southeast I traveled. Finally at noon I arrived in the small town that had been my home throughout my childhood.

Nothing had really changed, except the odd new home. It all looked just as it had many years before. Upon arriving I felt the familiar chill of some of my childhood memories. I think the school had its biggest impact and I remembered the freedom I felt leaving that building for the last time many years before. A few years after I recognized the value of an education and attended night classes and graduated after all. Many places brought fond memories as well: the old haunts where I had built many a fort and played the games young boys play with their vivid imaginations. Sometimes we have to leave to really appreciate where we came from. This was one of those days as I looked over the old and familiar, and then considered all the places I had seen since. Adventure had opened much of the world to me and I was indeed blessed.

I drove through the town slowly. The hamlet had grown some. Main Street was nothing like it used to be in my youth, though some of the landmark buildings were still there. My dad's pool hall and barbershop had long since disappeared. All that remained were the footings for the long building and a few overgrown hedges my father had planted many years before.

Dad had hauled in lots of field rocks and painted them white in an attempt to mark off the property. As I was walking I found one, weathered and tarnished but still with some of the white paint. He had painstakingly washed each one before painting it. It was a treasure to me and I carefully placed it in the backseat of the car.

I was aware of the eyes on me as I walked about. I knew that before long someone would come and ask what I was doing and, sure enough, a very curious elderly woman appeared, asking about my interest in the property. When I told her it had once belonged to my dad, she hesitated and thought for a moment, asking what my name was. When I shared it with her it was like a light bulb came on within her and she smiled and greeted me like an old friend.

It was then I recognized her voice. She had been my seventh grade schoolteacher. Her name had since changed but seeing her brought back old memories—ones I would just as soon forget. She was one of the teachers who took great pleasure in using her strap on me in my youth. After she learned who I was, she became less suspicious and asked about my family. Times had certainly changed; her family would never have associated with mine back in those early days. When I was a child an unspoken separation of cultural and church affiliation controlled where people stood in the community. She looked at me and smiled “Forgive me for all those straps but you were one I could not reach.”

I smiled and said, “Forgiveness is easy since you had a hard job, I made it that much harder. The straps I received from you were well deserved. In the end we have both found peace that day. “Thank you for stopping and saying hello, say hello to your family please. If I recall you lived up in the far north, are you still chasing a dream like you did in school?

“You might say so but the difference to my youth is I now live it and it is a blessing.” We said our goodbyes.

It only took a few minutes to travel through the rest of the town. I met a few other people that day that I remembered. The cemetery contained the rest. Many of dad’s customers’ names were engraved on the stones.

Numerous classmates were buried there as well—names I had forgotten about. I thought of each as I passed them. The cemetery was divided according to the church you belonged to. I considered the way the townspeople had thought about class in my youth. There was even a common area set aside for those who had no faith or church.

I stopped at the school where racks of bicycles were filled with the latest and newest models. I remembered my first bike. It was a fine one, I thought, and had to laugh out loud as I remembered where it had come from.

My family had taken a holiday to Banff that summer. One evening we went to the dump. That was our entertainment in those days. To go to the dump as a family, park at the best viewing location and watch the bears. Mom would see to it there was an extra large bowl of freshly made popcorn for the occasion. While we watched, dad entertained us with bear stories.

One particular evening, I spotted an old discarded bicycle at the bottom of the dump. It was a sad looking thing but it became my new bike. Even though mom protested, dad and I had retrieved it and carried it out and loaded it on top of the car.

I could not wait to ride it. It had no tires on the rims but that did not matter to me. I put mile after mile on that bike riding throughout the campground in the short time we were there. When we arrived back home my father and I gave that bike a complete overhaul. There was not a day when it was not upside-down getting one thing or another fixed. It may have been a sad sight but it was my bike.

As I stepped into the halls of the school I was overwhelmed with the smell of the place, so recognizable that I felt I was a child again. Yet another memory flooded my mind as I turned the corner to the principal’s office, a place I was very familiar with.

Back in those days I had beaten a regular path to that office for one offense or another. It generally meant a strap from the principal himself, and I helped keep his strapping skills well tuned. After awhile the punishment meant nothing to me and I would disregard his anger at his attempts to create remorse in me—a child who stood my ground in defiance.

Today it was a different story. The new principal had been one of my favorite teachers and a role model for me in my younger days. He had been appointed principal a few years before, after being overlooked many times. I recognized him immediately but it took several guesses before he recalled my name. When he did I found myself wrapped in a bear hug. He was filled with many questions and was more than willing to sit and listen to what had become of my life.

He offered to take me on a tour through most of the classrooms and to meet some of my old teachers who were still there. As we walked down the halls I looked at the photographs of all the graduating classes before, during and after my time at the school.

I saw that my picture was there with the shop project I had been so proud of as a child. In seventh grade I made a stool covered in imitation leather for my mother. I used red and white: typical 50's colours. It won an award that year for being the finest in the class and the photograph had been placed there to honor my achievement. Mom had been so proud. That old stool had followed me around for years. It is something I still have some 55 years later, tucked away in a corner of the garage filled with many small memories of the years past.

After the tour and goodbyes, I realized as I left town that some healing had taken place that day and I was filled with forgiveness as I looked through the rearview mirror at the little town I had returned to so many years later.

In hindsight as I write this today I wonder why it is we fail to deal with the pasts in our lives. Once they are faced they are all but forgotten and we are able to move forward onto better things. If I had some advice it would be to make amends and it will allow you to step out in a new freedom and be the person you are called to be.

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    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 5 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Beautiful memories, thank you for sharing. I think it takes many of us so many years to really grow up and know what life is all about. You are a Godsend with your memories and so many of us appreciate your sharing. God bless you always.

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image
      Author

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Jackie... thanks for the kind words... Yes it does take some of us longer to grow up. Smiles... for me many years and still growing in the process...

      Blessings back at you

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It is always a pleasure to pull up a chair and sit by the fire with you. Best of luck with that garden and may the snows give you a much-deserved break soon!

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 5 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      For some, memories are beautiful. For others, maybe not so much. Glad we both are able to have good memories. They truly are a blessing that not everyone shares. Thanks for sharing yours.

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image
      Author

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Billy .... well the flower gardens have been out of the question for certain. Rest has been on the agenda today and just some good old down time... Thanks for the visit.

      Hugs from Canada

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image
      Author

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Lifegate... you are so right. People have shared things with me over the years that I been unable to comprehend or understand which have happened to them. Sad but so true. For those who have good memories is is a gift to hold them near.

      Hugs from Canada

    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 5 years ago from Neverland

      Ah, memories. They are what we live for and try to make and then love to go back to. I wonder - do you still have the stool? How long ago was this chapter written?

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image
      Author

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      HI Ardie... thanks for stopping by. I do hope you enjoyed the cookies. Stone... yes I do. I have it tucked away in the garden shed and it manages to find its way out each summer. A reminder of those days.

      Hugs from Canada

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I am afraid i have missed some of your chapters. I enjoyed reading this one. What you said about facing your past is very true. Thank's for sharing...

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image
      Author

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Morning Always... hugs and thanks for the comment and yes you are so right. If we fail to face them then we keep adding to them on a daily bases compounding that anger and resentment... A cycle that can never stop unless we choose to do it.

      Hugs from Canada

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      It is always so restful to come and sit by your fireside. Sometimes we need to go back to enable us to move forward.

      When I went back to visit my old school it had vanished, nature had taken over. I felt sad at the time it felt as though part of my past had ben lost forever.

      It was so nice for you to make good with your old teacher, both of you changing and growing over the years.

      A lovely read and thank you for sharing.

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image
      Author

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Morning Rosemay50... It is good to back once in a while and see where we have come from. It acts somewhat like a measuring stick in many ways. Along the way if we can find some reconciliation well that becomes a bonus.

      Hugs from Canada

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Yes, I wonder, too, why we are reluctant to deal with the past. My hometown was a source of so many unhappy events that after I moved away, I'd become nauseous if I got anywhere near it. Stressful events at work, however, caused me to seek twice-weekly sessions with a shrink, who naturally brought things around to my growing up years in the town that no longer felt like a "home" town. It was when he predicted it would take two more years of therapy to break the town's hold on me that I grabbed the bull by the horns and went there, by myself, that very evening. (It was only 50 miles away.) The Tour of old haunts didn't take very long, because most were gone...boarded up or torn down. Hours-long visits with a couple of old friends revealed the town was no longer "evil", and by the time I returned to my current home the next day, it no longer made me nauseous, only sad. I still have no desire to go there again, but because now everyone I ever knew there has either moved away or died.

      On a brighter note, I had to laugh that "The Fallen Barn" went from 'a scared rabbit to standing still like a deer caught in the headlights'! I'm having the same issue with a historical novel set in the late 1920s whose main character is patterned after a favorite great-aunt. Poor dear...I packed her off to England, then left her stuck halfway between Liverpool and the Lake District with a group of what appear to be ne'er-do-wells. Being a huge fan of Jan Karon's Mitford and Father Tim series, I'm hoping Auntie will soon "do a J.K." and tell me in a dream what she should do next!

      Voted up, awesome and beautiful! ;D

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image
      Author

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Jama... thumbs up for taking on the past with such attitude. Sometimes we just need to go back and claim whatever to be ours and dig a hole and bury the fears and the hurts we hang onto.

      I did find it interesting to never feel the need to go back. Like you I have done that and been there and have no need to go back. They are having a large class reunion next year and I have been invited. I think it would be awesome to many return and compare notes. with those who set up their own class distinction at the time.

      Lol maybe even pee on a few posts while I'm in town... who said that?

      Please do something with poor great aunt... I feel sorry for her... I bet she was one of those aunts that always had a peppermint in her apron... save the poor dear.

      I love the Mitford series and have the all lined up in my library. Jan has been a great mentor for many budding writers...

      Hugs as always

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Great minds... lol! I have MY Mitford/FT books lined up on a shelf in the LR! Well, all but the Mitford Cookbook, that is. It's tucked away on a closet shelf until I locate a place in town or nearby that sells Mylar to encase it. I tend to get messy in the kitchen. A couple I grew up with live an hour from Blowing Rock NC, the town Mitford is patterned after, so they're using that as a "carrot" to get me to come for a visit!

      How did you know Great-Aunt Ruth always had a peppermint in her pocket? Has she been talking to you instead of me? lol! (I WILL do something with her SOON...the poor dear has been stuck in that inn with those people far too long.) ;D

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image
      Author

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Morning Jama... Lets face it al great aunts and grams have their ways and remember back in the day a peppermint was a treat. Today you would need twinkies or Gummy Bears. Sticky stuff you know. For some reason she had ended up in the trunk of Characters I have so I sent her home. She was raising cane with all mine... frisky old girl I might add.

      Been through Blowing Rock many years ago. I had no idea the Mitford's were born there... interesting.

      Hugs from Canada

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Having sent off for brochures and such from the Blowing Rock Tourism Bureau (or whatever they call themselves), I personally can't see that B.R. bears much resemblance to the town of Mitford that Jan Karon fans have come to love. But hey, it's her series and if that's how SHE remembers it and chooses to portray it, who am I to quibble over details. As my boss loved to remind us when I was in politics: "Perception is everything".

      Rolly, Great-Aunt Ruth WAS a "frisky old girl"...and you were right to eject her from your trunk of Characters! lol!

      Hugs from Oklahoma ;D

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image
      Author

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Jama ... first it is in the eyes of the writer and then the reader follows... so I was right at kicking her out of the trunk... the old boys in there have been crying ever since... lol... they are just as frisky I have heard.

      Hugs as always

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