Stories from my little corner of the world, the South. Some are from the present, some from the past...but all are from my heart.

They reflect my thoughts and views, my musing about the world, and each carries with it a bit of my heart
and soul.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


So in these dreams
you are always leaving
your truck growing smaller
as I watch the sandy road
and forest swallow you up.

I thought the first dream
was a premonition
of your death,
but you stayed here
with us for
almost another month.

The second time I dreamed it,
just days before you died,
I saw someone in the cab
someone talking with you,
laughing, looking back at me
his hat askew on his head,
that mischievous grin of his
him smiling, saying:
"Come on J.T., let's go!"

It was a joke, y'all were leaving
on to new adventures without us
and before I could reach you,
calling out your names;
saying "Please wait, I'm coming,"
your truck would pull away
and then I realized Jack was there
in the truck bed
leaving with the two of you.
Of course, he would be.

It happens often now.
I close my eyes
and the images fills the
darkened screen of my eyelids,
you are leaving us...
going with him,
driving away down the dirt roads
you had traveled so many times.

I finally realized
it was meant to give comfort,
this recurring image of you leaving,
with someone you loved so much
in a vehicle and place
you loved so well,
and traveled so frequently.

Images to reassure me
you are at peace,
so I can let you go,
although the sadness lingers
and the grief fills up the emptiness
left behind with your passing.

But I can let you go...
knowing you two are together
forever wandering down dirt roads
looking for a deer,
or a fishing hole,
or checking a feeder.
Doing all the things
you both loved to do together.

Rose Steedley Williams
©Southernstoryteller~ 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Valentine Box

         The Valentine Box

    It all started  with a plain white box sitting on the table at the front of the classroom. 

    It was second grade, Mrs. Bluma McCrary's class, and the first week of February in 1965. I don't remember much about Valentine's Day in the first grade, but in second grade, I remember it all vividly.

    The box was covered in white butcher paper, and the lid which was wrapped separately,  had a long rectangular hole cut in the top. Thinking back now, I realize it was larger than a regular shoe box, most likely it was a boot box. 

   It raised my curiosity that Monday morning. That seemed to happen a lot in Mrs. McCrary's room.  She didn't thrust teaching upon us so much as she made us curious about things so that we wanted to learn more.

   We got through the normal morning business: roll call, the collection of lunch money, the pledge to the flag, the Lord's Prayer. It was time for reading groups, but just before telling the first group to head to the reading table, she walked over to the table where the box lay. Holding it aloft, she announced that Valentine's Day would be next week and we would decorate the box to hold our Valentine cards.

  We went about our morning routine: reading groups first, then spelling, a short morning recess. After we came inside, we started math and soon it was time for lunch.

   After lunch, and once we were all settled into our desks, she passed out red and pink construction paper and scissors. We were told we would make hearts to decorate the box. I fretted as, I'd already decided at seven, I was no artist. All of my attempts at drawing hearts were awkward, lop-sided disasters. I was relieved when she showed us how to fold our paper in half and draw a half heart that, when cut, would be whole. 

   On the table by the box were containers with paper doilies, bits of red and pink ribbon, small lengths of white lace, red sequins and vials of red, gold and silver glitter. We were encouraged to come to the table to decorate our hearts with the assortment of supplies and the small army of Elmer's glue bottles which were neatly stacked in rows.

    In the next thirty minutes we toiled to create spectacular hearts to adorn the box. Pieces of red ribbon were pasted to small pink hearts which were mounted on squares of paper doilies. Large red hearts were dotted with glue and then sprinkled with gold glitter. Pink hearts with red glitter were edged with bits of lace. Glue covered our fingers, drying to a sticky film, which we peeled off and inspected for the imprint of our fingerprints.

   Our masterpieces were left to dry on the table, we were told we would glue them on tomorrow. Everyone was encouraged to wash their hands and we soon started a science lesson.  

   The human heart, we discovered, looked nothing like our paper creations. We learned basic information about our hearts pumping blood throughout our bodies and ended the lesson by coloring a picture of a human heart.

    Mrs. McCrary incorporated other learning activities around the holiday for the rest of that week. In math we learned that Johnny had earned one dollar and fifty cents for his allowance for the month. He wanted to buy a box of Valentine cards for his class party which costs seventy-five cents. How much money would he have left? 

   We added and subtracted dollars and cents, our brows furrowed in concentration. 

   In English we wrote sentences about Valentine's Day, learning the correct placement of punctuation. We copied the sentences from the board: Will you be my Valentine? 
Valentine's Day is on February 14, 1965. 
Betty bought a Valentine card, some candy, and a flower for her mother. 
She was excited about the party!

   For spelling we learned new words: Valentine, February, card, candy, mail, sent, present, decorate, love. We played a word game to see how many words we could make out of the words-Valentine's Day.

  My mother bought me a box of Looney Tunes Valentines cards to give to my classmates. As a seven year old, I thought they were hilarious. My favorites were the Tweety card saying: "I'm tweet on you" and Pep Pe LePew, with that poor cat desperately scrambling from his grasp,  saying into a heart-shaped dialogue balloon: "You know you can't resist me."

   Sitting at our dining room table one night, I labored to write each classmate's name on a card. I suddenly appreciated the fact that I had a short first name. The cards were carried reverently to school and deposited in our Valentine box, which by now had been covered wi th our beautifully decorated hearts.

   By the time February 14th came that year, I was completely recruited into the splendor of the holiday. After lunch, we filed into our classroom to sit anxiously while two children were chosen to hand out the cards. Mrs. McCrary helped them distribute the bounty and we tore into our Valentines in a fevered frenzy while a couple of mothers readied the party refreshments. 

   Reading the cards we laughed at their corny jokes and bad puns, sometimes finding a Sweetheart candy heart inside with sayings like: "Be Mine" or "I Love You" or the one which drew the loudest howls of laughter: "Kiss Me."

   After all the cards were opened and the refreshments enjoyed, we headed out to the playground for a recess. Spirits were high as we compared our cards, teasing each other about whether we might have an admirer. 

    February fourteenth, 1965.

It was an initiation into a childhood ritual repeated for the rest of my elementary years. It's one most children, whatever their ages now, can remember experiencing.

   And to think, it all started with a plain white box.

Rose Steedley Williams~©Southernstoryteller~2002
An column I wrote for the Clinch County News way back when, seemed like an appropriate post for today.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Struggle to Understand Loss & Finding Peace in What I Choose to Believe

    How fragile we are...such fragile beings of blood and bone, skin and sinew, muscle and memories, wrapped in our earthly forms, mottled with emotions and the yearning to understand the great mystery of Life.

 All the days of our lives here on Earth we are working, struggling to live and make a living. We wrestle with the great mystery of why we are here, and where we go when we die.

 Some subscribe to various religious beliefs which give definition and answers, comfort in words written long ago. I do not subscribe to those beliefs, but I am glad it gives comfort to those who do.

 I contemplate, as we are all want to do, over the answer of the great mystery of what lies beyond this mortal life. We can never truly know or understand the answer, not for sure, until we pass from these fragile forms we are to become beings of Light and Spirit. 

 It seems to me that lately, my family and I have been confronted with this question far too often.

Daddy, Micah & Jack during the fire of 2007

  Losing four family members and one very dear friend to death in just a little over two years has left me feeling quite vulnerable and raw, the wound of grief never quite healing before another loss comes. 

 My heart feels weary and scabbed with the losses. My body feels tired- physically, mentally, and emotionally. I fluctuate between tears and anger, between denial and acceptance, and all the while questioning the meaning of it all.
My birthday celebration planned by Micah in '99. MaMa, Micah & Daddy with noisemakers

 It’s led me to ponder deeper about what lies beyond this mortal world. The mystery of the unknown seems to mock me and has been ever constant source of frustration and inquiry for these past two years.

Daddy and MaMa at Christmas, early 1990s
  I am not asking for answers from anyone with this writing. I suppose I am "talking" to myself through my writing, as writers often do. I suppose this piece is more a confirmation to myself of what I have come to believe. 

 I think, for my own well being, I will not worry so much about heaven or hell, but perhaps more about the thin veil that separates us from our loved ones who have passed. 

MaMa & Micah after one of his birthday parties at Fargo
 I am searching for peace and finding great comfort in believing they are capable of being near us when we need them most. 

 I also believe they can choose where they want to be, and that they look upon us with love, gently lifting us up when we are in sorrow and the tears will not seem to stop. I know they've come to me in my dreams, and I've even felt their presence sometimes when awake.
Daddy and Micah fishing at the Suwannee River
  So this is what I choose to believe for it gives my heart some solace when there seems to be none. It helps soothe the crushing heartache that seems to come upon me without warning, at any time day or night. 
MaMa in 2008, we had ridden to the pond at Baptist Village to see the geese.

Daddy & Micah the day of MaMa's funeral in Nov 2009
I believe that my loved ones who have passed are as near as the very thin veil that separates our two worlds and it gives me comfort. To imagine them there close to me, looking on with love, is what I have chosen. 

The struggle to understand and the peace in what I choose to believe are, for me, for now, more than enough. 

Rose Steedley Williams