This is my baby friend, Vada. She is two and a half, the great-great granddaughter of a friend who has gone on, Faye Wagoner, guitar player, singer of the old songs, extraordinary woman, worked a farm with her husband, Jimmy, who played banjo and fiddle until he lost the fingers of one hand in a sawmill incident. Vada is great granddaughter of my friend Clair Francis, daughter of Faye. Vada's grandparents, Ronnie and Robin, were my friends, her daddy and mama are my friends. I've told Vada's mother, Crystal, I'm on my way to prison; I've fallen in love with a baby. I've known Vada's daddy since he was a baby. Justin, has been my friend all his life. He mentioned a month or so ago that I have seen him in every phase of his life and he has only known me with white hair looking the same, from first memories to present. This is the family I love as my own. They're all my babies. I would die for any one of them, and that's not spoken idly. I have thought about it. Four years ago a neighbor and friend died who was up in his 80s, I took care of unto his dying. Hospice was such a help, I wanted to volunteer, a way of expressing my gratitude, plus I believe Hospice is a wonderful thing. Unfortunately, Hospice in Sparta did so well a corporation bought it and all the nurses left, the whole staff left, they've brought in new staff and it is a totally different place that lost its credibility overnight. I sat with two separate old boys who were dying, sat with them once a week, and found myself fading down, down, down, thinking about dying all the time, looking at those old boys, thinking I may croak before they do, until I found myself depressed looking at dying in the face. It's not that I'm afraid of dying, but continuous focus on it left out everything between now and then. I needed younger people in my life.
mother and child
About that time Justin and Crystal moved into a new house and Crystal was on the verge of childbirth. I helped them paint the interior of the house. I visit regularly on Sundays and sometimes during the week. They have become the focus of my social life. Justin and I watch the race on Sunday and, in this season, football. Melvin, who works with Justin, is with us most Sundays. Today I rode with Melvin, who lives near me, and sometimes he rides with me. Both of us like to take the back roads and stay off the highways where the highway patrol lurk like spiders in the corners of windows. The back roads are paved just like the highways, but much less traffic. You very seldom see another car on the back roads. Driving home, Melvin said, "I aint much of a driver. I hope I'm not scaring you." I said, "You're keeping it in the road." Upon arrival, first thing is play with Vada time. She loves Melvin like crazy. She wallows on him like he's a big teddy bear. She loves me too, so much it's humbling and brings tears to think about it. Vada has had a charismatic charm since the day of her birth. I would love to watch Vada grow up, but know I won't be seeing her into her teens. But I already know what Vada will be like as a woman. She's a balanced mix of her mother and dad. It's in her horoscope too. Justin is still the little boy I knew; he's just grown up. Same personality. It tells me Justin has never left the track of who he is. He is unrepentantly himself. Justin has grown up into a man I am happy to know. He has a brilliant mind that is fast and retentive. At his core, he is a true human being. I'm impressed by his abilities and knowledge in his own field, which right now is house painting. Saturday I was given a house tour of a new house he'd painted the interior. The line where two walls of different colors met was a perfectly straight line.
melvin in the mancave
justin in the mancave
Here is Justin wearing his tshirt that says Shit Creek Survivor. Melvin usually wears a tshirt that says something about redneck pride. His tshirt here has a tag that says Carhart. Melvin is somebody who does not call attention to himself and goes his own way. He's had some hard times. He grew up outside Murphy, NC, in the southwestern corner of the state near Georgia. They lived next to the dirt track where the races happened on weekends. Melvin's dad maintained the track, leveling the dirt after a race that puts deep ruts in the curves. Later, he lived in Arkansas. While there, his sister was hit in the head by a stray bullet and has spent her life since in a wheelchair. Now he lives about five miles down the road from me in Whitehead. Melvin's wife, Ellen, is the aunt of my friend Tina, who is older than her aunt. Tina is the only Wiccan I know of in the county. In fun, I call her Bat Woman. In the time we were both working in the courthouse, sometimes I'd cut a bat out of black construction paper and tape it to her computer monitor when she was out. Tina is one of my favorite people on the earth. For several years somebody would ask me from time to time if I knew Tina, saying I need to know Tina. Several people in that time before we met told her she needed to meet me. One day we met and we were like, It's you. It was like we already knew each other when we met. She's what we call in the mountains a catbird. It means she's a lot of fun. I suspect a past life connection with Tina like I do with Justin. I also suspect Vada of being the same soul as her great-great grandmother, Faye. Vada moves like Faye, has Faye's light-hearted attitude, her eyes. Vada already sings several children's songs.
Neither of todays football games went to suit Justin and Melvin. They were pulling for Carolina and San Francisco beat them in a tight game. The other game, San Diego and Denver wasn't a very exciting game either. Both their teams lost. I don't care who wins. I just like watching the plays. Like in racing, I never care who wins. They're all excellent drivers in my assessment. I figure they all have what it takes to win. We watch the game awhile, then descend the stairs to the mancave in a corner of the basement. There we smoke and laugh and have a sip of good mountain liquor from time to time. We listen to the game on the radio in the mancave. Everything we talk about makes us laugh. We spend much of the time laughing. We hadn't played darts in several months and this evening threw darts at least an hour. My last game, I never scored one time. I was weary and sat down, letting them throw the darts. Vada came to the basement to visit us. She wanted me to hold her when I was not taking my turn. I'd put her in the chair, throw my three darts, then pick her up again. She loved watching us throw the darts. I held her while she watched Melvin and Justin take their turns. She watched with the fascination of seeing something new. She'd never seen us throw darts. I feel in their company as comfortable as I feel at home. However, after several hours of expending energy and attention, it feels good to walk in the door at home, go straight to the bed and lie down for a half hour or so to settle in to home. No matter how much I enjoy the company wherever I go, returning home, I fall into my own stillness, my quiet, glad to be back to my favorite spot on the earth.
vada makes a face
vada makes another face