Wednesday after work my youngest and I took off for a visit with family in Giles County, where I grew up. We took a slightly different route and headed west on Route 60 cutting over at Appomattox to finish the drive home on Route 460. That took us by McLean Courthouse in Appomattox. It was too late to stop, but we got a pretty good glimpse from the road.
I’m still not quite sure what was so different about the drive, but I had a strange sense of nostalgia remembering back to the first time I came to Appomattox as a seventh grader more than forty years ago. I remember our teacher talked for what seemed liked days about a bridge carved with the Confederate stars and bars. And I remember that when we saw it we said, “that’s it?” This time I was relieved to see it still there.
As we’re getting ready to head back to Richmond this morning I realize that this is a trip I need to make more often. None of us, myself included, is getting any younger.
Because of the death of a family acquaintance, a prominent man in the community, I also heard lots of stories. It’s a common practice around funerals to tell stories and share memories. I’m at the younger end of my generation in my Dad’s family, so I missed a lot of the stories, or people, over the years. I had to stop the conversations and ask “I know Wirt married Zenobia, but how was Alice related? And what about Snow?”
I am not making those names up.
My son and I also took a walk “around the mountain” to the site of the home place built by my great grandfather and where his youngest daughter lived churning her own butter and raising most of her own food until, as an old woman, cancer finally took her. Oh, to have a drink of that spring water that ran off the mountain. The house is gone now, destroyed by fire long after Aunt Clara died.
What I’ve been realizing over and over is that there are stories to be written. There is history to be told.
And perhaps I need to tell it.
I didn’t really come prepared to write this weekend. In fact because free wifi is non existent here except for McDonalds, I didn’t even take the laptop out of my bag. I’m writing this from my phone in the only corner of the house where I can get to 3G. And I’m afraid to even stand up before I post for fear that I will lose it.
What I know is that I need to write more. And I know that all the inspiration I need is right inside.
Or it’s here in the New River Valley at the foot of a mountain I call home.