Going Lisa Gist Walker copyright 2011, Lisa Gist Walker
I find myself in the Pettus cemetery, 3 miles and 79 years from the front bedroom at rural route one, box three-o-four. A fine berth, here, beneath my beloved sky and its travelers jetting their ways between Atlanta and Memphis, between Birmingham and Cincinnati, journeying above me and my earth.
I suspect the sun will set in its usual way. Its children will gather at the house and catalog accumulated sympathies. They, with our mama’s hands and our papa’s nose, will arrange squash casserole and cornbread and three-bean salad and coconut cake along the top of the deep freeze on the back porch. We are all tall. And nearsighted.
1927 papa delivered a load of fertilizer way up above the state line. He came home with an oak wardrobe in his wagon instead of money in his pocket. Tomorrow, its 23 quilts will scatter to the comfort of nieces and nephews. Its old-growth doors and boards and drawers will be disassembled into the hatch of a late-model Japanese automobile.
Kay will search for the enameled pins -- a boy-Lenin, hammer and sickle, red and gold -- traded for a stick of Doublemint Gum with a child on the streets of St. Petersburg. She’ll find the diplomas from Peabody, she’ll find the ring unworn, she’ll find the dismissal letter from the superintendent, “Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service are not suitable as teachers for our school children.”
I’d packed the night before, ready to leave the next morning at 6:45 for an 11:07 flight. Grapefruit, toast and coffee; plants watered and a quick phone call to sister. A fall sunrise. Road clear. The curve at Bluewater sharp. Cousin Edith’s Winesaps bounce to the floorboard.
They sang Beulah Land today and In the Garden -- not my favorite but mama’s; each death invites fresh grief over all that came before. Brother searches, “at least she didn’t die half way ‘round the world.” He’d always worried I’d do exactly that. I’d always told him I was worried that I’d die close to home.