"Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat."
Last week I dug way down into an oversized cardboard box marked "fall decor from Mississippi," pulling out glittered pumpkins, ghords and fall leaves clinging to grapevine garlands almost as tightly as I cling to the memories of time gone by.
I was that shy, awkward little boy in elementary school who lived for turning ordinary pinecones into colorful turkeys with just the help of Elmer's glue, construction paper and glitter.
Some people are terrified of clowns, but they have never scared me much, well, except for a moment or two in childhood. Mama was determined I would not be afraid of them.
The gardens of my childhood spill over in my mind, growing still today thick with old-fashioned roses and their delicate pink petals decorating the sides of Mawmaw Bell's little red brick house on the hillside where I played.
Mama made candied apples and cupcakes all afternoon, and as I licked the frosting from the beaters, I thought surely Heaven must smell just like her kitchen.
The first one I acquired from a dusty corner of a flea market in the French Quarter of New Orleans for only a few dollars.
Why do we wrestle with who we are?
Joan Crawford, eat your heart out!
I remember the feel of Mama's heartbeat and the creak of the rocking chair as she held me close, humming some old gospel hymn. When she held me close, I was home.
Daddy won it from an auction one Sunday televised on our big console television while Mama, my brothers, and Uncle Wayne sat around the living room cracking jokes about Jerry Lewis's hairstyle.
I never met my grandmothers on either side of my family, yet I feel a longing for both of them.
Each person's story is a patchwork quilt of memories sewn together by time. If I had a quilt to tell my storied past, what would the squares of fabric reveal?
Narrow daylight entered my room. Shining hours were brief." Not my words, but the lyrics of a Diana Krall song that reminds me of my darkest season.
One thing that doesn't change much is a dirt road.
I am not sure that I have anything new to say about the horrific crimes against humanity committed in Orlando, but I feel compelled to say something, anything really, that keeps the conversation going, that pays respect to the memory of those who lost their lives, that offers solace to their families and friends, and that calls us all to own our part in the open warfare being waged in our cities and towns.
"It's Colorado rocky mountain high. I've seen it rainin' fire in the sky."
I have heard this lyric by the late John Denver all my life, but recently it has come to mean a great deal more to me.
I remember sitting for hours turning the white knobs left, then right, on that little red square from my toy box.
My favorite book when I was a little boy had to be "Coco's Candy Shop." I traveled across the colorful pages with Coco and friends as we all learned valuable life lessons.
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