South by Southwest vs. West by Northwest
It was just a spur of the moment trip. I really had not planned to go anywhere last Friday, but there I was, driving west and headed to an old familiar place. I’d taken this road many times—back and forth to my dad’s place over the last 30 years. The road felt like an old friend. I knew where each turn was, where the speed traps were, and how far it was to the next bathroom. I knew where you had to stop and fill up with gas because THAT gas station was always the cheapest. And I would stop there again–just because. I knew I could make the trip in less than 4 hours.
You start off heading west on Interstate 20 as if you were going to California—because, if you don’t stop for several days, that’s where you’ll be—or at least El Paso for an overnight stop! In El Paso, you can catch Interstate 10 and then scoot across the edge of New Mexico around Las Cruces and Lordsburg. From there it’s just hours on to Tucson. That’s where your compass might become confused because you come to a crossroads.Crossroads can sometimes be confusing if you don’t have a clear idea of what your final destination is. But I didn’t need a map today…I knew the road and my destination.
From Tucson, you can continue to California by taking a hard northwest on to Phoenix and then set your sites on The Los Angeles area. Of course, don’t get me wrong…that’s more than the 4 hour trip that I’m making to west Texas…but if the music on the CD is right and the gasoline card and credit card have enough available balance, I just might keep on those west-bound roads and be sipping a cool drink on the pier in Santa Monica. Tempting!
But I’ve overshot my daydreaming just a bit. I’ve just arrived near the small town of Cisco TX so this is one place I have to make a decision. Do I make that south turn and go on to my dad’s place—or do I set out on a 5-day trip that takes me all the way to California.
I know deep down he would think the trip west was a good idea. He traveled all of those roads for many years and told great stories of traveling across the US during the depression and WWII years working when they could.
I would love nothing more than to sit with him again and hear all those great stories. But a few years ago, his life, well-lived, came to a close. I’ve gone back only a couple of times since then…and maybe that’s enough…to see if everything is still the same in the town’s rock-road cemetery. What do I expect will change about it? I don’t know, but it feels as if I ought to watch over his place like he always watched over me.
…could do anything—and I mean ANYTHING! A carpenter by trade, that didn’t stop him from fixing my dainty jewelry, helping with homework, building a house for us, or making sure that we had enough to survive.Seems it didn’t take as much in those days to get through—something about our greedy desires have increased since the 50s & 60s. What we didn’t know about, we didn’t need.
I have just picked up a hamburger and cherry coke and I’ve made the south turn onto State highway 183 that will take me on to Brownwood, then a connect with US 377 on to Brady, TX.
A town of about 5,500 located in the geographic heart of Texas, Brady had been a place I had looked forward to visiting every summer when I was a little girl. My mother and dad would go for a visit to my Mama’s & Papa’s house there, and I’d get to stay for a couple of weeks.
That was just great—especially when I was the last of the cousins (and the youngest of a dozen) to still think it was cool to be gone for a couple of weeks in the summertime staying with some old people. My Papa grew vegetables and they had chickens. I didn’t like that at all so I’d just stand at the wire and watch my Mama feed the chickens from the pockets of her always-present apron.
My Papa would pick and dig up vegetables and put them on the big picnic table under the tree to ripen. I could already imagine those juicy tomatoes, that warm yellow watermelon, and those snap peas cooked in a big pot with potatoes!
Yes, my grandparents were old, but I didn’t mind because I was alone with them and my thoughts. They had lessons to teach if I would just listen.
The town hasn’t changed too much from those days. The roads are still made of shale rock and unpaved in most of the town. Many of the old houses still look like they did when we would drive slowly (because everything in that town was/is slow) to the town square.
The square, built around an old county courthouse constructed in 1878, never changed. There were maybe 40 stores around that square. As I drive in today, some are still closed up and some have transitioned from a theater to a hardware store, to a boutique, to a coffee shop, to another empty store in a dying commerce of downtown shops.
My destination is just a little off the square northwest on Highway 87 There, in the constantly blowing wind of west Texas, is the old cemetery. My dad’s place is looking sleek and clean—because nothing can stay long under that incessant wind. I tell him how much I love him, think to myself of how hard he worked, how much he liked Country Music & TV, how much he loved me from the time I could remember to those recent few years ago. Many times he rode his white horse (really a brown Ford pickup truck) to save me from a bad decision I had made or a situation that surprisingly turned bad.
I put some yellow roses in the vase near his name with birth and death dates. Then I blow him a kiss and let the wind clear my eyes. The skies look clear out here because the wind just blows the clouds out of those west Texas skies. I look up and I feel the power of God in that wind and I know my daddy is resting in His arms.
I’ll get another cherry coke and start that ride back. It’s less than 4 hours. When I get to the crossroad again, I’ll turn east back into central Texas. El Paso, Las Cruces, Phoenix and Santa Monica will have to wait for another time.
Driving away from the setting sun with the road humming along and my music set to old country music–the kind my daddy loved. I start to sing along, like my daddy always did. I felt sad but comforted by the trip to my daddy’s place.
In some ways, today I carved out a new journey down this old road. Traveling never looks the same when your purpose changes.
It’s good to know God will help you if you develop a new vision
or if you need to take a new journey
even if it is down an old road.
Such a good story. You’re stories are so touching and others so very funny. Keep up the wonderful words. Makes me miss my daddy too.
What a great remembrance:)
Carol: Thanks for your kind words about my blog.
Thanks for sending her blog on to me. Good for her, doing something she has always wanted to do
From: Carol Johnson