David Byron Waltz
I was born on the type of day when you snuggle by the fire with the one you love or with your favorite blanket and a good book. It happened in a simple house, yet a house that is grand with the pleasures of life – home – that was on a straight dirt road leading to nowhere.
My mom died that day on the cold January morning when I was born. Granny tells me that I was just too much for her when I came all screaming and hollering into the world, throwing a fit to the awakening of life. She just looked at me when I snuggled up to her breast, my screaming gone because I knew I was safe. She kissed me, then she just passed on, with a look of contentment and knowing what she had just done was the best thing in all the world.
I never knew her, but I’ve seen pictures of her on the mantel above the fireplace in the living room. My favorite is the one with just her, even though there are others with my father and older brother. It’s the one where she is standing by the big oak tree in the middle of our field out back. She is leaning against the tree in what looks like of those simple, yet pretty flower dresses, like the ones you can still buy in the clothing store in town, where a field of blue color makes the flowers of yellow and red stand out all pretty like.
What I think of most when I look at that picture is her face. She had a young face, the type of face that when you got past the smooth pretty features and looked into her big green eyes you knew she was older than her looks told you. She was only 25 when she died.
I guess when you have a child and husband, along with making sure everything on the farm is taken care of, you tend to grow older before your time. This is my favorite part about her. While looking at the picture I see a pretty face smiling that blinds the sun and then finding the eyes that look wise and purposeful.
I used to play in that big oak tree in the middle of the field. I never knew how it got there, with it being the only tree in that field of tall flowing grass, the type of grass which cuts at your legs as you walk in springtime. That big oak tree held me in its strong outstretched branches through all my years growing up. It held me during the times when a mother was required, when all children need that special touch, that caress. I imagined the rough bark as the smooth soft skin of my mother’s face against my cheek and the sun beating down to be the warmth of her presence.
Thinking, now, I remember that the tree was the only thing on my mind throughout my childhood. I couldn’t wait for school to end so I could go and tell that big oak tree everything about the day and to play my favorite games in its arms.
As the years past and I got older, I started spending less and less time with that big oak tree. I don’t know what happened. I guess dating and everything in high school was just more interesting than playing kid games in an old oak tree.
But as you would know it, I went back to that tree when things weren’t quite working out or I had some things on my mind that required talking. I would sit, leaning against its solid trunk, with my eyes closed and just think. Sure enough, the answers to my problems would come like the wind blowing across the fields in September.
When I left home to find what everyone looks for – myself - I came to the realization that maybe I didn’t miss that big oak tree so much. But sure enough, I would think about it from time to time and the feelings that surrounded the memories would come forth like the breath of angels whispering in my ears and all my troubles would be whisked away by their words. I found that I really did need what that big oak tree had to offer.
Even now being grown, with my own family with children and everything associated with them, I think about the time I spent with this tree and I want my children to experience the same feelings. They need what I found in those branches so long ago.
I am once again standing in front of this wonderful friend. As I stand here looking at its immense arms and watching sunlight dance between its leaves, I feel warmth and comfort yet again.
The funeral ended about an hour ago. I am thankful for the memories of my father even though I will never hear his stories of how things used be or see my children’s smiling faces and hear their cry of mock terror as he chases them roaring like a lion, eventually sweeping them up in his big burly arms. I have the memories, just like I have the mother I never knew in this big oak tree.
Motivation: Memories is one of those works that when you sit down to write, the words just come by themselves.
Bio: David Byron Waltz lives in the Atlanta area. He is a former journalist who is now devoting his time to write fiction and poetry full time, actively trying to publish his work.