Clay County, Alabama is in the most southern Appalachian Mountains and where I grew up. The majority of my family still lives within 100 miles of there. Earlier this week I had great concern due to the historical storms and tornados in North Central Alabama, especially for my brother who lives between Birmingham and Tuscaloosa (hardest hit by the storm). My brother said they spent several hours in his basement and were genuinely concerned. I am relieved and grateful today to know that all are OK. When things scare me like that it brings feeling and emotion to the top and I wrote what follows in about 15 minutes to express my morning gratitude today.
My Little Brother
I remember well those childhood days,
In Shinebone Valley where we romped and played.
“Catch-ah-ma-doggie” Creek and Gray Hill,
Clear, vivid and strong in my memory still.
Playing soldier and building forts in the July heat
Using haybales in the loft to make ’em was quite a feat.
Catching little crawfish and darting minnows too,
And tying to a thread June bugs of green-blue.
Evening’s early summer lightning bugs blinking in a jar,
Steam rising after rain from the road’s black tar.
Riding our bikes on pulp wood roads
With Willis teaching us about the woods,
Catching snakes and sometimes toads,
And turtles and all the fish we could.
Stepping on rusty nails and telling no one,
Kick the can in the yard till the sun was done
That time with V. & C. and mud to our knees with them.
Sweet memories strong within of those childhood whims.
Then we did not see how the days just flew.
Through the all pain and difficulty we knew.
Coping with a self-absorbed and distant mother
In our lives no choice and no chance for another.
We know it’s true as a parent she was unfit,
And without each other we’d not have made it.
We have our scars, but we are alive and well,
And it’s only on the good of childhood days I dwell.
You’ve always made me proud like no other.
Always you will be my cherished little brother.
There is a calmness to a life lived in Gratitude, a quiet joy. Ralph H. Blum