The Literary Corner: Renegade Writers Guild
Published 9:03 am Thursday, August 3, 2017
“The Last Time”
By Linda Barnette
I wish I could talk to you today, but since I can’t, I’ll do it in another way.
During the days when you were here, I thought you would be forever near.
But time has a way of passing by, and we don’t even realize it until we sigh.
You were the best without ever having to take a test.
Always there and always fair.
I remember the last time you saw our street, the last meal you would ever eat,
the last visit with my mom, the last kiss for my little son.
When I went home to take a break, they called and told me to come back quick.
So I was there when you breathed your last, and I thought for the first time that life was much too fast.
By N.R. Tucker
At 0433 a cold nose and heavy breathing wake me up. Since Zephyr, our mixed breed herding dog, is in his mid-teens, he’s usually more than willing to sleep until my internal alarm clock rings around five a.m. Not today, apparently. Thinking he wants out because he doesn’t feel well, I’m now wide-awake and ready for action. I leap out of bed, navigate the bedroom furniture, skirt the living room, and enter the sunroom, moving to hold open the door for his escape to the back yard.
That’s when I hear the heavy rain pounding against the house. Although Zephyr loves to jump into rivers, creeks, and ponds for a little fun, he doesn’t like to get wet in the rain, but he’s not afraid of the rain. I stare at Zephyr as if my stare will determine the actual problem. The crash of thunder provides the answer to this puzzle. Zephyr hates thunder.
Knowing I won’t be able to go back to sleep, I move to the only couch the dogs are allowed to use. As soon as I sit down, Zephyr jumps up and lays his head in my lap so I can scratch his belly and his ears. After a few seconds, while the thunderstorm rages, Zephyr calms down and falls asleep.
I sit with Zephyr until the storm passes. Seventy-five pounds of furry home protection, as long as there are no thunderstorms.
“Reflections on a Mission Trip”
By Julie Terry Cartner
This past week, a small group of us from Salem United Methodist Church went to Fayetteville to help with the ongoing project of getting homeowners back in their homes after the devastation created by Hurricane Matthew. Twelve of us, from teenagers through senior citizens, spent five days putting up sheetrock, mudding, sanding, mowing, hanging doors and doing trim work. But, as I have learned in past experiences, the people behind the projects are the heart of mission work.
“It’s all good!” was the response I received when I told a woman who lost everything how sorry I was. “Really, it’s all fine,” was her response to my skeptical look. With a beaming smile that could light up the darkest room, or in her case, what many would see as their darkest nightmare, this lovely lady told me that the hurricane had accomplished two wonderful things. “First, our neighborhood is closer than ever. We have always been friendly, but going through this has made us care more deeply about each other. Like the night of the hurricane, my neighbor, an elderly widower, said he was not going to leave his home. I told him, ‘Your wife would have wanted you to evacuate, and I’m not taking no for an answer. You need to do what she would have wanted you to do.’ And so, he went with me.” As it turned out, the flooding water reached at least a five foot depth in their single story houses, so if he hadn’t gone, his situation could have been critical.
“It also brought us closer to God,” she added. “I look at it this way, God cleaned out my house for me.” In a world that is so wrapped up in having “things,” God changed this lady’s focus. They lost everything. Every object in the house, soaked in water, mud, and other hurricane debris had to be dragged out of the house and discarded. Every photo album, every book, every family heirloom, was destroyed. Every wall, every ceiling, every heat and air conditioning duct was ripped out. Every cupboard, cabinet and countertop was removed. They had the clothes on their backs and the few items they carried with them that night.
Some people were able to rebuild on their own, but the impact of the hurricane will be with them forever. “I’m from California, and I had never seen anything like that in my life,” said a woman who was outside throwing a ball for her dog. “The night of the hurricane I called my husband and told him to come get me.” The couple had only one car, and he was at work. “I was eight months pregnant, and I watched the water roar down the street. It was taller than that stop sign,” she said, pointing towards the nearby corner. “My husband couldn’t get the car down here,” she added, “so he parked as close as he could, then rushed in on foot to get me. We walked out through mud and water. We had to climb over fences and barely made it out.” Then, “I lost my baby,” she added quietly. “But we’ll be okay. We’ve rebuilt our house and we’ll be okay,” she repeated.
Others are totally reliant on volunteer help. One lady on the street is wheelchair bound with three severly autistic children. The lady has a lift to get her into and out of bed, but when the flooding occurred in the wee hours of the morning, the power went out. Her children had to lift her out of bed and put her in her wheelchair. They called for help, but it was hours before a rescue team arrived. The family watched a boat coming to get them, then in shock, they saw it turn around and leave. To their vast relief, a short while later, another boat headed their way, this time a larger boat. They found out later that the smaller boat could not withstand the force of the water. By the time the family was evacuated, the water had reached the chin of the lady in the wheelchair. Despite this experience, the family is appreciative of the help and eagerly await the opportunity to move home.
As I re-learn every time, we mission workers receive as much, if not more, than those who receive the help. Hearing the stories of loss was heart-wrenching. Seeing the homeowners appreciation for what they still had, mostly family, neighbors and friends, helps us to prioritize what is important. Experiencing the faith and strength of these people was a humbling experience, to the point that their gratitude for our time and work almost seems too much, and we should instead thank them for allowing us the opportunity to serve.
“The Love in Tea Cakes”
By Stephanie Dean
There was a day when family cared for family in every sense of the word. Every few months, my family and my dad’s parents, Alto and Bobbie, loaded up in the car and drove from Nashville to Shelbyville to see Uncle Albert and Aunt Cora. Albert was my grandfather’s brother, and years prior, he suffered a stroke which left him paralyzed from the neck down. Albert’s wife Cora, a tiny woman, rendered all his care single-handedly. They lived out in the country in a small but neat clapboard farmhouse with a large porch on the side.
When we arrived, my siblings and I would go inside and greet Cora. We made our way to Albert’s bedside to greet him. His condition was a curiosity to me as a child. I had never known anyone who was paralyzed. Albert was not able to move or speak but would simply acknowledge us with a stare and grunt like sound from his throat.
Our family never ate lunch at their house because preparing a meal would have been additional work for Cora, but Alto and Albert’s sister, Odon, always came with a snack of homemade tea cakes, odd shaped golden biscuits that were sweet and floury. She carried them in a wicker basket lined with gingham checkered cloth.
My parents would stay most of the afternoon and visit with Cora while the kids played outside. Albert could not talk, but could hear well so he listened. Cora appreciated the fact that Albert’s brother and nephew took the time to come and visit him. Confined to the home, she welcomed family who took the time and made the drive. Cora stayed by Albert’s bedside right up until his death, fulfilling her legacy as a dutiful, faithful wife. A sense of duty is what people felt then. Family cared for family.
Aunt Odon’s Old Fashioned Tea Cakes
2 cups sugar
½ cup butter
½ cup shortening
½ cup buttermilk
½ tsp soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup flour, sufficient to make a soft dough
1 tsp. vanilla
Cream butter and shortening, add sugar, then beaten eggs. Sift soda and baking powder into one cup of flour. Add this to sugar mixture. Add buttermilk and vanilla to make a soft dough. Mix well. Drop by tablespoons onto cookie sheet. Bake about 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven or until golden. Yield: 6 dozen.