Caussey's Corner

Caussey’s Corner: Walking Through Tall Grass

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It was unseasonably cool in Texas for a late June day. Low hanging, puffy-white clouds moved quickly westerly like fleeting foxes across the landscape, as higher, thinner, protein-drained clouds seemed to hang motionless like spider webs in corners of an old barn.

Bowie is a small farming and oil community resting in a mid-‘50s time capsule between Fort Worth and Wichita Falls. It’s just a few miles from the water- cresting current of a fully bloated Red River. Record rainfall has turned north Texas into an ocean of green.

My family had lived in this quiet, close-knit community for decades. Mother is buried there in Elmwood Cemetery. Each time I journey down Highway 287 that skirts Bowie, I stop off to visit my mother’s grave.

On this mild summer’s day the cemetery was still, except for an occasional skittish grasshopper that might take wing only briefly, landing near the weeds along the fence that separated this quiet place from the road. There he would continue to make noise until a startled cricket would raise the noise a higher octave, hoping to attract an amorous mate.

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Photo: @janetwindham via Twenty20

There among the tall blades of Neptune green were the tombstones that chronicled the deaths of family generations. Wooden windmills, plastic flowers and American flags peeked above the foliage, with each seeming to compete for the attention of this lone intruder.

A breeze began to stir the evergreen trees that provided a degree of eternity to this peaceful place, as well as the nightly roosting house for black birds that fed on the insect harvest.

The wind gains strength from the east, and the horizon darkens in the west and sings its whispers along the treetops as the smaller shrubs provide a voiced harmony.

Mother’s grave is near a far road that carves the cemetery up, allowing others to be placed there, and provides a journeying place for folks like me who make pilgrimages.

Before I continue my narrative, I have a confession to make. I go to my mother’s grave and I talk to her. This was my secret until now. There will be no attempt to explain practicality in this act, nor develop some Biblical reasoning to this measure. Rather to tell you what I do, and leave the judgment of this event up to you. I do it because it makes me feel better to remember my mother and share what is happening to me.

I tell her the events in my life, and reminisce about the times of joy we knew together. I share with her many of the things I should have spoken about in her life and didn’t because of forgetfulness or neglect. I tell her how proud I was to have her for my mother, and thank her for all the sacrifices she made and things she did without in order to give to me. I apologize for the times I must have disappointed her and let her know there are still more failures than there are successes. I laugh as I recall a humorous anecdote and tell all the stupid things I still do.

I share with her the fact there is a great love in my life. A love that she would be proud to know about. And now she does. I had written a poem a week earlier and read it to her. Mother rarely understood my poetry, but always gave me reams of praise. Today she understood.

I tell her how her grandson Chad said he would rather eat her chicken and dumplings and fresh baked pies than anything else.

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Photo: @kinek00 via Twenty20

Mom and Dad always called me “Son.” I do not hear my name, but my heart feels an honored presence. I can recall her smile, and the hospital where she passed away, and the last time she called me “Son.”

Lightning flashes and thunder rumbles among the housetops and stately elms that line the road. The tall grass is still damp from the early morning shower. The fragrance of rain strengthens the air. Mother will like the rain. Rain meant not having to work in the fields, while refilling the cistern. Water for drinking, cleaning, cooking and washing our hair.

Large raindrops begin to fall. I tell Mother “goodbye.” Just as I take cover inside the truck’s cab, a wall of water descends. But the darkened sky and heavy rain can’t dampen my spirit. I feel as refreshed as the tall grass must feel with the abundant rain.

In a few moments the storm front passes and I drive toward the gate. Funny though. The sun has come out, and the inside of the truck smells just like coconut meringue pie.

Durhl Caussey is a columnist who writes for an audience worldwide. He may be reached at this publication or [email protected]