"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mother's Day journeys, no silence in my memories

Francis Faye Culp Clark
Sunday I will head south into memory.
It took a long time for me to begin this annual trip, I'm sad to say. But now, I look forward to the trip
to the cemetery a mile west of Waurika, Oklahoma, where the prairie wind never seems to stop. After we moved from the little town where Mom lved with us until she died, I avoided coming back to the grave and planting flowers.
My brother Jerry at the grave.
But for the past several years, as I've faced my own mortality more and more, and had my own deaths and tragedies.and missed her more and more, I always look forward to talking with her again. Oh, I know she's not at that grave, but for some reason I know I can talk with her there...she and me, alone.
In the morning of Mother's Day, I put a garden trowel in the car, and stop and buy a gallon of water, and a few flowering plants from Lowe's, preferably ones that will last longest in sunlight. Then I head down the Bailey Turnpike to Chickasha, and south on US 81, back through memories of Rush Springs and Marlow and Duncan and especially Comanche...through Addington to Waurika, county seat of Jefferson County, where we lived for 12 years owning the Waurika News-Democrat, and she with us for a few years, till she got cancer and died a couple of weeks after her birthday in that 100 degree heat storm that lasted more than 30 days.
I'll go down some old WPA 1930s pavement, listening to the thump, thump, thump of the tires, and then after passing through Waurika, up the hill on US 70, pul off the pavement, and listen to my tires crunching across the pavement, and the meadowlarks singing, till I come to her grave.
I'll get out and come talk to her, and use the trowel to clean off the grass intruding on her grave, and dig down at the stone to plant the flowers some of the dirt from last year still there. I'll plant most of the red flowers, use a lot of the water to saturate the ground. No plastic flowers for my Momma's grave. She loved real ones. Yes, they'll eventually die, but so what? Better than fake. More of the water will wash off the stone, and the wind will soon dry it off, except for the water lingering in the incisions on the stone--her name and dates. They fade last, like my memories.
Reunion of memories
Such a travesty to summarize a life with so few words...no love, no memories, no humor...but that awaits us all. And then I kneel down, and talk. Our conversations are private and personal. I know she hears me. I sure hear her. Last year my brother Jerry and I were there. I'm sure he talked to her in his own way too. I'll lean over, and kiss that grave, because I can no longer kiss her.
Then I'll leave, meander through Waurika and memories and joys and regrets where we lived and worked. I'll head north 15 miles to Comanche, and stop at my Dad's grave, clean his grave, plant some flowers, and talk some more then I'll head home.
Silence is part of the trip... No radio, other distractions, other than wind and birds. But there is no silence in my memories.

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