All day today Ralph Stanley's song, Daddy's Wildwood Flower, has flowed in my mind. All day. Such a beautiful song that only Ralph Stanley can sing right, like every song he sings. It is one of those mournful songs that pull the tears out of my eyes, the kind his brother Carter loved so much. The beauty in it is of the heart. Daddy played the guitar and Mama loved Wildwood Flower. When Daddy played Wildwood Flower our house became a home. Later Mama dies and Daddy is left mourning her loss. Daddy grows old, falls into dementia and one day they can't find him. The community goes out looking for him and they find him lying on Mama's grave among the wildwood flowers. Sung as only Ralph Stanley can sing.
I've found that when I look at a song that's in my mind all day, I can find
by examining it what's going on beneath the conscious mind that's connecting with everything going on around me. The feeling in that song, Daddy's Wildwood Flower, matches perfectly my feelings today. The very place that song takes me to is where my feelings are. It gives beautiful music to my feelings, which today have been beautiful in a sorrowful way. Saturday morning playing it at the radio station tears flowed down my face for the beauty of the song itself and Ralph Stanley's soulfully emotional voice. Ralph Stanley does that to me, as does Carter Stanley and Sara Carter. They make me happy I live in the mountains unto tears.
I've thought that if something out of my control forced me to live outside these mountains, my heart would break every time I hear any mountain music. I would play it all the time, all the time breaking my heart and mending it simultaneously. I cannot leave the people of these mountains. When I say Alleghany County is the home of my soul, I mean the people. I don't know all the people by any means. There are a lot more people I don't know than there are people I know, which is how it is with everybody. Let's just say it's a given. But the people I know are interwoven with the people I don't know, so in that way I can feel connected with the whole county. The radio show is a connection too, where I play the music of home to the people of the county who love mountain music.
This day between death date and funeral has been full of love all day long coming at me from everyone I saw. It's like being on a battery charger, the energy of the love every one of them felt for Jr they were passing to me in appreciation for helping their friend. My cup runneth over all day. The genuine love in it is humbling instead of head swelling. I find I go around with my head down much of the day, looking at the floor the way Jr did receiving gratitude. All of this came to me from out of the blue. It was between Jr and me, I had the time, he was my friend who shared good liquor with me for 5 years, told me the story of his life from childhood to present, and eventually said I'm better than his friend, more like his brother. It was between us, growing into friends over a span of time sitting talking at the table, getting to know each other, respecting each other.
Suddenly it's not only public, but it turns out the community of Whitehead was watching, happy to see that the one they all loved was cared for by someone who appreciated who he was, Jr Maxwell, and for that reason only. Along the way there were times of mistrust from outside, but I knew that time would tell my truth, that I simply wanted to help out a man I'd come to respect enough . Because of our bond as brothers I couldn't turn away from him with the nursing home the hole he would fall into. I knew him well enough to know what a horror those places were for him. I could not allow them to kill him of despair. Jr Maxwell did not deserve to die of despair. I could not do other than what I did. I did it against opposition several times. I was prepared for any kind of fight that might come along. When I fought for Jr, it wasn't to lose.
This tsunami of love I'm receiving from Jr's community of friends and kin has the appearance of Jr's gift for holding him up in his helpless time.