As I stand on deck number two of my Deck House—so called because it has six decks and a dock rising above spring-fed Lake Rockdale—I am thinking of the nine decades that I have put behind me.
I face to the West, as I am now living in the land of the setting sun. Even the leaves of the Hickory trees have turned to gold and many have fallen to the ground as I enter the winter of life.
My life has been rich and exciting and I have been abundantly blessed. I sometimes say that I have lived in the fast lane, but when you live in the fast lane you occasionally get run over. There have been a few bumps in the road, but I have managed to survive.
My blessings have included being married for 64 years to two beautiful women divided equally at 32 years each. Both marriages included happiness with laughter and good times only to end in tragedy involving mental illness and dementia. I loved each spouse intensely.
My life included the good fortune of being a self-employed contractor owning a State Farm Insurance agency for almost 58 years. Several times I received the President’s Club Award which went to the Top 50 agents out of 18,000 nationally for the sale of fire insurance products.
Also I was honored to be elected President of the National Association of State Farm Agents (NASFA). I thank my great employees and my fellow agents for receiving two President’s rings. Travel was another benefit from my State Farm agency as I got to visit several other countries and a lot of states.
After retiring a few years ago at eighty-six, I find that the fast lane has narrowed considerably. I have chosen to live at an independent living facility, along with a lot of other gray-headed folks. My son lives nearby.
This day, I made my last trip to Conyers and my beloved Deck House to pick up a few personal items. The previous visit brought tears to my eyes as I thought of the good years there. Today, I had to let the Deck House go, but I have memories that no one can take from me.
Saying goodbye to this place was like leaving a good friend—seeing them for the last time.
I will move on to another box as author Henry David Thoreau so aptly describes in this book Walden. I will bring you writings from this new box. I hope to publish my third book soon and do not plan to stop with the fourth. We’ll see.
When we first moved to the Deck House, I took my then wife Lucy to the kitchen window; and as we looked at the garden area above the wall, I promised her that I would grow flowers that would bloom for her 365 days every year. I kept my promise and pansies along the wall brought us sunshine and happiness even in the cold winter months. Other flowers including azaleas, iris, and daylilies bloomed above the wall.
Daffodils from my Mississippi Little White House bulbs were planted all over the three lots where the Deck House nestled. It could be called Daffodil hill as Miss Essie Lou’s little yellow bloomers show their glory in the springtime.
The steep lot (62 steps from the top deck down to the dock) reminds me of the terrain in Haywood County and my roots in Waynesville, NC.
A rhododendron was planted and nurtured here even though it was far south of where they grow so well in Western North Carolina. It prospered in the most shady location on the property and I watered it frequently to keep it alive.
On my last vist, I didn’t look to see if it was still living. I just wanted the memories of the large purple blooms that came in June to remain lodged in my aging mind. This plant also gave me good recollections of trout fishing in North Georgia streams where they love to grow.
Lucy and I used to talk about the platters of leaf lettuce we’d eaten as kids at church dinners, with a scattering of shallots, sliced boiled eggs and maybe some bacon crumbled about. The lettuce was “killed” with hot bacon grease. I never really understood the term.
Lucy and I couldn’t kneel to pick from a bed of lettuce at ground level, so on the hill above the garage at the Deck House I built a structure of landscape timbers, about waist high, so we could just reach out and pick lettuce without bending.
I also tried raising strawberries there, but a rabbit ended this venture.
Lucy loved a plant named mahonia that had yellow blooms that matured into blueberry-like fruit that the birds liked. A mocking bird once nested in a mahonia bush in front of the Deck House.
She would chase me away if I came too close. Her mate would sing for me every morning when I went up the driveway for my Atlanta Journal.
Tomatoes were my most successful vegetable crop. I would take bags of them to the office for my staff. I saved enough for plenty of tomato sandwiches which we savored.
My niece Desi visited with her four year old twins, Ty and Taylor. When I showed Ty my cucumber vines, he said “Oh, you have pickles on a vine.” Smart boy!
I added a large sunroom on the 2nd floor of our deck house. I would sometimes go early to the sun room to watch the fog lift from the lake.
Other times, Lucy and I would have our coffee while gazing at the mirror-like lake below us with the image of the trees across the lake seemingly upside down in the water. We would make each other laugh while we sipped a couple of cups.
For many years, we had a 20 ft. pontoon boat at our dock. Every afternoon, we would board our boat with our Australian Shepherds. Colonel would take his place proudly standing at the bow of the vessel like an Admiral. Bebe nestled near the stern on a sofa with Lucy.
We cruised around the 50-acre body of water feeding the ducks and geese. We had floating food for the surface-feeding fish and also food that sank to the bottom for the black and white catfish to enjoy. I have never seen this variety of catfish anywhere else. We could observe them feeding while almost swimming upside down.
When we came back to our dock after floating by a miniature Stone Mountain across the lake, three turtles with their little heads sticking out of the water would be waiting for a treat. I didn’t give up my boat until my early eighties when I decided that I was too old to be climbing around on boats.
The pontoon boat with the red cockpit cover and the deck house with the many good memories have been signed over to others. I walk away into the setting sun — adios amigos, adios.