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.
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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Link to Chapter 7
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