21 hours ago
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
All Roads Lead Home
On a recent trip out west where my ancestors settled just a few hundred miles south of Fort Worth, Texas; I had the opportunity to take my father's sister, Aunt Earlene on what possibly could be our last journey together. We have always had fun talking and laughing about the fun times she remembers having with her family and my deceased father, her favorite, and only brother! We again begin talk about family I remember, or might not. My quest is to chronicle my genealogy trails...
Once again I share how my dad told stories of the two of them sneaking off to cross county lines. A chance to dance in another seedy joint. A chance to shake a leg together, something they both enjoyed. My grandmother really never cared, as she knew he would watch out for her. He was good looking and great dancer, but he had his wild side. Aunt Earlene always thinks of him in the fondest way, in spite of his rebellious ways. He was her baby brother, but also her protector.
Of all the things he shared with me before he passed, was that he would pack up an old doctors bag with some clothes and tell his mom he was going to visit his grand parents in Mineral Wells. He was only thirteen years old. He would then head out to the River Oaks highway and thumb an hours ride to their house just to the west. Today you would never believe anyone would do that. I sat in awe as he told me how old farm trucks and other vehicles would stop and let him hop in the back as they slowly moved down old highway 180.
When he finally reached my great grandparents road, all he had to do was hop off, say thank you, and walk right across the street to Clarence and Delia Estils property. I bet grandpa and mamaw Estil were sitting right there up on their porch waiting for him. I also bet they had a cool glass of that mineral water they always gave their guest, and some cornbread. My dad had a great fondness for a hot pot of beans, and I remember it waiting for me as well when I was a girl. Hospitality was a good southern trait.
As my aunt and I drove up to the old property in Mineral Wells we could faintly see the old path that still lay blended in with the grass, as if it were still welcoming us.
Someone had bought the land my grandmother could not let go of before she passed. She loved her parents dearly, and often we cannot let go. If you follow the path up to where the old house used to sit...you see that the new owners have planted a garden and left a few of the corner stones. The old owl that once and still protects the fruit trees from smaller birds sits and honors what was. They must have realized how precious the love was that filled that old house.
This part of the country is and always will be a rough way of life in spite of its every growing concrete invasion coming from the east.
Still filled with cattle ranches, cowboys, cactus, oil pumps, rocky and sliding hillsides, still flowing Brazos and Red river, mesquite and thorny brush, snakes, and hot sweltering dusty roads that seem endless, but unmasking new territories.
Heat drenched foreheads can be wiped away with one motion of our hand, but memories of a way of life that still haunt this land can never be erased...even by progress, or unattended history...