I remember my dad telling me a quote. I think it was attributed to Mark Twain. He spoke of the definition of a classic work of literature.
The quote was something everybody wanted read, but no one wanted to read. As a kid, I had to read quite a few of those classics in school. At the time, I grumbled about some of them; many were so long. Now, in hindsight, I’m glad I read each one. There were some great books among them!
There was one book I didn’t read, as a child; that is, “Where the Red Fern Grows.” A while back, I had a chance to see the first movie version, and found it deeply moving. Then, recently, I lived my own version of the story.
Now that the bank is taking away our house, my wife and I had one final duty to carry out. We had to clean the place.
The term is, “broom clean.” We take out the trash, remove all debris and sweep the place. This meant the water bowl I’d left on the fireplace hearth, the one for Shakespeare and Romeo, had to go. Well, I couldn’t bring myself to throw it out; that just couldn’t be. I put it aside, on the counter by the back door, and set to work. I carried all the final bits and pieces of our lives out to the street. I left the trash of our lives for the garbage or the “vultures” to pick over. I went room-by-room, sweeping and cleaning, filling the trashcans.
It was a hot dusty day. I was glad for my bottle of water. Finally, after my last inspection of the place, I was done. The house was truly empty, in so many ways. It was time to say farewell. I took the water dish out to where Shakespeare and Romeo rested. I set it between them, I put a couple of their toys there, too; then I knelt before them and said my final goodbye.
I hope the new homeowners will respect their resting spots.
As I rose to leave, a bright flash of orange caught my eye. There, slightly off to the left was a flower, some kind of lily, I think. What I found so very touching and special was that the flower was actually two flowers; two flowers on one stem.
Yeah, somehow that seemed so very appropriate. At that moment, I knew how Billy, the boy in the story, “Where the Red Fern Grows,” felt at the end of the book. It took me a few minutes to get my emotions in check. Then an idea presented itself to me. I needed a memento, as I knew the flower would, like all living things, wither and die. Fortunately, in this modern day and age, my phone has a camera in it.
I snapped a picture. In a way, I looked upon this as a final gift from “the boys.” Now, when I think back to my final visit to our old home, it is not a sad memory of defeat and failure, and loss. No, now it is a memory of the one true eternal power in the entire universe.
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
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