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  • If the walls could talk
    By Scott Newport

    Before I could say a word my hunting buddy, Dave, had stopped and jumped out of the truck. Grabbing a small disposable camera from the dash he headed for an old log building.

    After cranking down the window, I yelled, “Hey Dave, what are you taking a picture of?”

    Slowly, he turned his head and looked at me as though I should already know the answer and whispered, “I am taking a picture of a new found home.”

    I thought he must be crazy as he spoke and I started to slip out of my seat. Maybe it was just another one of his southern sayings. You see, we were in the middle of a 100 or so acre rolling hay field in southern Kentucky early one spring. We must have been on top of the tallest hill in Calloway County, as the view was just spectacular. We had been out hunting since before daybreak and I had just shot a fattened turkey in the nearby woods for Easter Sunday supper. He thought it would be nice to have a picture of me, a Yankee, in front of an old “seemingly” abandoned log cabin built in the 1800s.

    I walked up to the overgrown brush still dripping of morning dew. I could see Dave, slightly crouched down and nestled behind the entanglement of honeysuckle. He put his finger to his lips as to silent my footsteps and pointed with the other to a turkey vulture nesting in the top of the tipping rock chimney of the cabin. “Ahhh,” I whispered back. Now I knew what he was talking about.

    After he took a picture of the vulture, and even a few of me with my prize, he pointed to a clump of bushes and tall grass that hid the remnants of an old well or cistern. He pushed the limbs away as we both peeked down the well and, to my surprise, it was near full of water. I wondered how many buckets of water had been pulled out of there for a cool drink or maybe to do some dirty laundry after a hard day of working in the fields.

    Even though that was my first time at the cabin, it wasn’t his. I knew there must have been many here before us. It was surely a legacy that had been passed down for generations. Before I could have my imagination go wild with old tales of years gone by, he stepped on to the old wooden porch that still creaked-- probably the same as it did the day it was built. He stepped inside and invited me to follow as he pointed to a hole in the floor. “Be careful,” he said, still keeping his voice down.

    Before I could even speak I heard the sound of the bird’s footsteps tapping as though a child was throwing small pebbles on to the tin roof.

    As I cautiously looked around in amazement, I noticed half of the roof was missing. This allowed enough light to see the floor’s skeleton, which couldn’t hide the many hand- hewn logs. It was obvious the builder of this home was a fine craftsman. The house had only two rooms. The one in the front was obviously the main room and the one in the back must have been for sleeping. There was even an old wood- burning stove partially falling through the rotten floor. The walls were made of logs, and loose mortar--now homes for hornets--still filled the cracks.

    As we stepped out the door way and off the corner of the porch, my Southern buddy looked back at the home and said as he touched the walls, “If only these walls could talk they surely would have many stories to tell.” He then turned his whole body around as though he imagined we were both there on an Easter, maybe a hundreds years ago.

    “Just imagine all the children who rested on this front porch after playing a game of tag or maybe throwing small stones down in the well just to hear the plunk and the echo of sound off the dirt walls.” he said.

    I joked back at him and said, “I bet a few jugs of white lighting had been sipped here after a successful hunt, too.”

    He laughed and said,” “Yea, you’re probably right, but not today.”

    I started to feel his imagination and love for the cabin. I even felt a little proud as though I just had brought home supper. I am sure there was no guarantee back in that day the father would be able to bring home the sustenance of life.

    This whole particular pioneer journey in my life began a few years back. You see, me and my Southern buddy share more than just hunting stories and adventure, we also share a story few ever tell around a campfire or a Sunday get together. We both have a child with a terminal illness. My son is still alive; his daughter, Lindsey, has gone but her memories will never be lost. We never talk much about it but that’s why we are so close. We don’t have to talk about it. We just know. Even though we live hundreds of miles apart, every time we get to meet, we are like brothers who have come home from a war few have fought. He is probably the only guy I hug.

    After the hunt, I returned back to my in-laws’ old family farm that has been passed down through the generations. Our family was visiting over spring break. I pulled up a lawn chair, next to a fire built by my father-in-law. Watching the fire, I couldn’t help but rekindle the memory of that old log building on that hill and all the history behind it.

    As I kept the fire going, the rest of the kin were getting ready for a big Sunday get together for Easter. I think we had close to 40 visitors that day. My buddy had brought over his big smoker the day before and had a pig roasting on it. The women were gathered on the porch giggling and stuffing plastic eggs full of candy and small toys for an egg hunt after dinner. The children were all playing tag and throwing a ball in the yard that must be at least five acres. The yard is surrounded by 80 acres of rich farm land and a few small pockets of woods. My son, Evan, although not able to play like the others, sat so content on a gray metal cooler full of ice and drinks. His feet dangling nowhere near the ground. I know he was in his glory just to be outside. His sparsely spaced teeth couldn’t hide his smile full of life. His unusually wide-spaced eyes and protruding tubes that can’t be hidden were no match that day for any sadness some may have for him.

    As the evening came to an end, and the last set of headlights made its way down the long, gravel driveway, I couldn’t help but wonder. Could it be some day, long from now, the walls of the old family farmhouse will tell stories of this special day. Maybe it will tell of the morning hunt, or maybe the kids playing tag and searching for Easter eggs. But I hope it will tell the story of just some plain and not so plain folks getting together to share life.

    Falling off to sleep I thought of the legacy of this old farm house which has only three rooms. I cried a bit as I thought of Evan and Lindsey and we were not able to leave them a legacy. But I quickly smiled and then sighed when I pictured Evan on that old metal cooler.

    As I dreamt that evening, I could just imagine a family sitting on and around the country porch just outside the bedroom window and singing on a Sunday afternoon. Maybe the gospel tune, “Give me that Ol’ time religion.” Remember what it says at the end of each verse? “It’s good enough for me.” I also like the part that lets us have peace, “Give me that Ol’ time religion, It will do when I am dying.”

    If these walls could talk, surely they'd have a legacy to leave to anyone who would listen. I know we all, as parents, want to leave a legacy to our children. But maybe in some cases, it's okay for our children to leave a legacy for us. Like Lindsey. Like Evan.

    Just a thought...for those walls to tell some day.
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