“Everyone has deep in their heart the old town or community where they first went barefooted, got their first licking, traded the first pocket knife, grew up and finally went away thinking they were too big for that Burg. But that’s where your old heart is.”
A few years back my siblings and I took a nostalgic drive into the Florida Everglades to see if our old homestead was still standing. During that long drive, we poked, laughed, cried and prodded as we shared memories.
Our oldest brother’s favorite story was when he didn’t get a licking for slapping me silly. Here’s his version:
“We three older children had exited the school bus and began a long walk on crushed seashells to the settlement where Mom and Dad had built a modest home by a canal. A small metal awning provided cover for the front door steps.
On those steps sat our Momma holding her latest newborn and standing behind her, in a frilly pink dress stood another baby sister with her auburn hair tied up in palm tree fashion.
As we got closer, I noticed a snake hanging down from the awning. Leba began screaming and me and my brother yelled, waved and pointed at the danger uncoiling above their heads. Momma quickly skidded backward into the house.
Within seconds, the snake dropped but Leba’s continued screaming escalated into hysterics. I had just earned my Eagle Badge in Boy Scouts and knew immediately what to do ... I slapped her back into the real world.”
Except for the ending, his version is mostly accurate and as I reminded him that day, the real ending goes like this:
“Screaming at the top of my lungs, I began running to save momma. To my surprise, my oldest brother tackled me from behind and knocked me to the ground. He then excessively applied what he had learned in the Boy Scouts ... sitting astride my stomach, he slapped me silly.”
In loving disagreement, our sibling glue spread into even more stories being recalled in distinctively different ways ... ways that targeted one of us as the blunt of the joke.
Or as Will Rogers would say, “Everything is funny as long as it happens to someone else.”
I didn’t realize it at the time but our old hearts were fast at work pumping sentimental joy into every moment of our brief time together that weekend.
This joyful trip into the past this morning has reminded me of one of my favorite Will Rogers quotes ... as it pertains to an old heart getting ready to meet its maker:
“When I die, I want to die like my grandfather who died peacefully in his sleep ... not screaming like all the passengers in his car.”
(Leba has been a contributing columnist, feature writer and photographer to the Banner for over 10 years. Leba.email@example.com)