Yesterday, I received a letter from my sister Jane. It was an envelope with a “forever” stamp (you remember those) on it. There were a couple of poems enclosed. The first two lines of one I quote, “It’s dismal rainy cold and dreary, It’s been a long time since I felt so weary.”
This came from the pen of someone who always gives you a smile and says something pleasant. Jane is on lockdown in Columbia, MO. at a senior facility named Lenoir, a really nice upscale place.
I’m not worried about her for the next poem said, “I see many wonders in the woods of Lenoir, Jack in the pulpit and may apple galore.”
The walk down to our post office is worthy of the effort if one of Jane’s letters is waiting there. I too am on lockdown at The Mansions, a nice place to live with a lot of others who have gray hair. My apartment has high ceilings and French doors leading out to my porch.
I like to open the door and feel the fresh outside air flow in. Weather permitting I can sit in my rocking chair and listen to songbirds as I slowly rock to and fro. This brings me memories of my grandfather Rogers sitting in his rocking chair on the porch of the old home place while well into his eighties.
I taste the eye candy of my three pots of petunias. My daily trips to the porch with my little red watering can is well rewarded.
I like to tell people that I now live in the Birmingham Jail. There was a song from the era of the Great Depression that told a story to those that have lived it. “Send me a letter, send it by mail. Send it in care of the Birmingham jail.”
This was sung with great emotion by a downtrodden man who just wanted something from home (with a three-cent stamp on it) to carry in the pocket of his faded prison uniform. He may have been sent to this forlorn place for no more than making a little corn whiskey back in the cove behind his cabin and failing to pay the taxes.
He just wanted to have a little extra change to buy his wife a new dress and get his children some shoes in time for school in the fall, or new overalls for himself. He would take this faded letter from his pocket to read one more time while tears would fall on the letter, his only valued possession.
From my prison cell at The Mansion, I talk to the walls. I say, “Hello Wall”. If the wall talks back to me, I know I have a problem. I sometimes ask the wall “How long will I be here?” I ask from my cell, “Is this a lifetime sentence?”
Then I call a friend I haven’t spoken to for a spell and sunshine comes in my door. Later, a small group of friends with our face masks in place, do chair exercises in the hallway and the blood flows faster in my veins. Yes, exercise is the answer and I pedal my bike for a mile or two. I count my blessing for having this exercise machine in my apartment.
Phone calls from friends and relatives help lift up my sagging spirits. Keeping in touch through Facebook makes a contribution.
We residents help each other maintain a better life. A friend and I shared a pizza ordered from a nearby pizza joint. Today, I’m taking a couple of cans of chicken soup for a friend’s ailing dog who loves this treat.
A retired nurse who is a resident here helped me with my eye drops after my cataract removal procedure. Jan helps guide a lot of her neighbors here with their health problems. Acts of kindness are frequent here as we just try to be good neighbors.
My breakfast comes to my door. There is no fresh fruit like we used to have every morning—strawberries, blueberries, pineapple and more. Maybe some cantaloupe tomorrow—maybe a banana. Maybe I should have more gratitude for the scrambled eggs, and bacon or sausage.
We seem to get a lot of grits. I believe the chef has discovered the grits trees back behind The Mansion. Our Yankee friends usually don’t like grits. They don’t know that they are best when freshly picked and slathered with butter or red eye gravy.
Don’t ask me to explain red eye gravy or the little black specks in speckled heart grits like they serve at the little restaurant at Pine Mountain, Georgia that overlooks Callaway Gardens.
We have a chef here at The Mansion. Chefs are created when they take a good ole Southern cook and give him or her a raise and a funny-looking hat.
Then the Chef will take three or four perfectly good foods, mix them all together and put something green on top of the mess that has been made which is called Chef’s Delight. The chef should cover it with his fancy hat.
When I get out of here, I’m going to the Waffle House, Cracker Barrel, or maybe swing by the Varsity. If I get out of here. But I have not been totally alone here in my quarters.
Through the technology of Zoom, my son Bradford brought my three siblings into the room and we talked with each other for over an hour. A blessing. My brother Mark recently told me “You know, Ray, I pray a lot more than I used to.” So do I, so do I.
There is the presence of others here between these walls. The Holy Spirit lives here with me and does not depart as the days turn dark and the light then shines bright again in my heart. My guardian angel has been on my shoulder for these many days. My Lord has blessed me.