Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Family I Left Behind

Photo courtesy of Nathan Self
One thing about leaving an area to live in another is the family you leave behind.

It isn't my extended family of cousins. It isn't my mother, who plans to follow me to Iowa, or my sister, who decided to stay, and her children or my in-laws that I feel as though I am leaving behind.

It's the family that has left before me.

Some left many years ago. A couple were recent.

Photo courtesy of Nathan Self
My grandpa, Willie Gant, died when I was three, but I have many memories of him. Although he was my mother's stepfather, Papaw Gant claimed me as his own. I was his birthday present, born on July 8th. He used to buy me presents or recondition toys he found in the junkyard. I still have the felt faced babydoll and red ceramic piggy bank. My fondest memory was when he lived outside Brandon, MS and when we went to visit, he would take me out to the chicken coop. He would open the door to the coop and in I would go to chase the chickens. With one eye on me and another on the trailer door, he let me play. Before my grandma could peek out the door, he had me back outside the coop throwing feed to the chickens. When grandma closed the door, back in I went. Papaw was the love of my life back then. About twenty years later, my grandma died. So many memories of watching baseballs games on television and betting on who would win: the Mets or the Cardinals or the Braves. Some many nights asleep on the couch listening to her conversations with my mom that lasted way into the night. Family games at the table during Thanksgiving. Watching her crochet blankets for the grandchildren to shopping with her after a doctor's visit, Grandma shared so many things in life with me. She taught me how to play rummy. She shared my love of animals. She taught me how to grow beautiful plants, although that quickly became a talent that was not mine.
Photo courtesy of Nathan Self
Although many of my cousins do not remember her, Aunt Jeanette was a woman who I thought was beautiful. Her smile was infectious. She loved my mother and often visited us while we lived in the country. Sometimes we went to visit her down in Ocean Springs, MS. It was there where I had my first dip in the ocean. I clung to my father, fearful that a shark was going to eat me (I was only four). At night I watch television while she and mom talked or watched her lamp and its mesmerizing raindrops. To this day I still look for a lamp like hers. She died when I was eight and life seemed to changed after that.

Photo courtesy of Nathan Self
My Aunt Puddin was my mother's sister, Mary Jane Davis who married my dad's uncle, Steve McGregory. Yeah, imagine explaining that to people, a great uncle who was also my uncle. Throughout my life I spent days and nights with Aunt Puddin and Uncle Steve, playing with my cousins, sneaking down the hall and peering around the corners to watch movies we shouldn't have seen. My mom and Aunt Puddin fought during their childhood and sometimes while adults, but it made our small family seem larger. She was my beloved aunt and I can still hear her voice today. One of the reasons why I dedicated my last two chapters in my devotional (30 Days: A Devotional Memoir) to her.

Photo courtesy of Nathan Self
 This was a part of my life that taught me how to live. He taught me what it meant to be loved and how to love. Although the marriage was short-lived, the mark he left on everyone's heart lives forever. My boys emulate his teachings. Jimmy was a man of God who taught much more than earthly love, he showed the world how to love as God intended...with an open heart. As a fireman, he risked his life for others and he sacrificed without thought to protect those who needed him.

Photo courtesy of Nathan Self
My dad, Gary Dennis Tutor, was more than just a dad or a husband or a brother or a son. He was the most amazing man alive. It was his love, never spoken but always shown, that kept me believing in dreams. He wanted the world for me, but to me Daddy was my world. I never wanted to disappoint him. I never wanted to be away from him. Even when I married, I was always just a hop and a skip away from him. I spent so much time around him that I grew to love the smell of motor oil and grease, the feel of sawdust, and the aroma of a newly built house. He wasn't popular or well known, but when he died the funereal home overflowed with people whose lives he touched. My dad was a simple country boy who would drop anything to help another. Life seems empty at times without him around. He taught us all so much and so many memories flood my mind that the pain of his passing sears into me; but even though I dream of him from time to time, I know that someday I will get to see him again.

As I leave the home and say goodbye to the house that my dad built from foundation up, I remember one thing. He built his dream: his family and his house. He would have wanted me to build my dream, too.

They left before me. They already said goodbye. I leave only their markers behind and look forward to a new day in a new land.

A life's journey to a dream....

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

What do you see and hear?

What do you see in this world? What do you hear in this world?

Tonight I sat with my husband and watched The Piano Guys DVD. As they played Beethoven's Fifth Secrets, I couldn't help but be moved by the sound of the cello. Two wonderful songs combined to induce an emotional response.

It made me do others view the world? Do they see music in the wind? or in the trees? or even in the busy streets of the city?
Do they see the colors of the world? The clashing tones of green and yellow in a flower garden? or the wispy white against a brilliant blue? or the silver shine of water on the ebony asphalt at night? or the reflections of the rainbow on the streets during a storm?

Does anyone hear the laughter of children? or the soft murmurings between a devoted couple? or the bells that ring at midday?

Does anyone see the dandelion seed float on the wind? or the lazy bird pecking at bugs on the air conditioning unit? or the water droplet running down a window pane?

Does anyone reach out and touch the world? Do they want to grasp its colors and surround themselves in its richness?

Or do they only see the gray future, the dimness of life, the withering structure of society? Do they only concentrate on bills, and jobs, and what has to be done?

I wonder...does anyone live life to its fullest knowing that it can end any day? Do they trust God and continue with life soaking in all the wonders that He has provided?

It wasn't just the DVD that had me thinking this. As I browsed the internet, bored out of my skull, I glanced out my window and at the streetlights shining down. I'm in a new place, a new home, a new town. It's all a discovery with me. And as my eyesight grows weaker and my hearing starts to dull, I realize that even if I lose my sense of sound and sight, I will always have my touch.

Of course, I hope that it will be years and years before my eyes and ears worsen to that extent; but it helps me appreciate even more what I've always appreciated.

God's world holds too many wonders for anyone to ignore.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Journey of Faith

A Journey of Faith

That's what it took to uproot myself from my childhood home and make the journey to a new home, a new town, a new state. Despite my years of traveling from Idaho to Florida, South Dakota to Indiana, and from Texas to North Carolina, I found that my time spent in Iowa was by far my favorite.

In this blog I will share a few photos of my former home and the significance of the subject captured.

Photo courtesy of Nathan Self
The town became Batesville in 1866. It's easy to google Batesville and learn the history and facts of the place. But that's not how I saw it.

Batesville was a great place for me to grow up. From bike rides with friends all over the town to town parades during Christmas time. I went to high school with Deshea Townsend and Dwayne Rudd, both NFL players. My uncle, Steve McGregory, became and still is a well known gospel musician. He used to play in the old gazebo on the square during the SpringFest weekends.

Photo courtesy of Nathan Self
The downtown square offered a number of stores, most remembered Stubbs and Williams. On the corner of the public square and Panola Avenue was a superb ice cream shop. The most delicious, creamiest and sweetest ice cream cones around.

Now it hosts flower shops, an indie craft/bookstore store, a few clothing stores, and law firms.

Photo courtesy of Nathan Self
Before long, the square was revamped and became a central part of Batesville. The Farmer Market held its venue here.

But Batesville was more than a public square.
It was a home of memories.

When I was younger, we had a garden. Not just a small garden or a backyard garden. It was a ten to twenty row, ten to twenty yards long. And the best place to buy seeds was at Brown's Feed store.
Photo courtesy of Daphne Self
Not only did Brown's offer seeds and plants, but rabbits, ducks, deer feed, and feed for the farm animals; plus everything needed to grow a beautiful and lush garden.

Late spring meant hours spent at Brown's choosing and buying what we needed for the garden. And best of all, I was able to choose at least two vegetables and a flower of my own. That usually meant a quarter of a row of radishes and half a row of squash with marigolds in between.

Photo courtesy of Nathan Self
Batesville became the host of many artists. Some well known in the state and some just starting out. Painters, singers, and authors, most of us called Batesville home at one time in our lives.

Life has a meandering road for all of us and sometimes it calls for us to leave the comfort of home to start a new journey elsewhere.

And that is how I took a journey....

Photo courtesy of Daphne Self
I left the town of Batesville and moved to Marion, Iowa.

A new life, a new home, and a new town to begin a new journey, at least a new path in this journey called life.

Batesville is my birthplace, but Marion is my home.
Batesville holds many memories for me, but I look forward to the memories to be made here in Marion.

And life holds many surprises and rewards... It was a journey in faith that brought me here.