The great ones

Comer

There is so much to say about Ed Comer, and I don’t know where to begin. I don’t think I’m ready yet. I can’t yet tell my favorite stories without getting choked up – but someday, I’ll be able to share with you about his strength, his kindness, his fairness, his quick wit, his sweet whistle.

My grandaddy passed away on Friday afternoon. He was one of the great ones, and I’m going to miss him so very much.


Song for Sid

Langhorne Slim

As the earth stood still, Sid began to move
I understood the words he said, he understood mine too
I watched Sid suffer, I saw Sid strong
Now tell me where do the great ones go when they’re gone

He told me it would be alright, go and have fun
He said he loved his family, but it was time to run
I loved that old man, I wrote him this song
Now tell me where do the great ones go when they’re gone

I’m so glad, I got to say goodbye
And when you run into Jack, Sidney, tell him I said hi
I loved that old man, pray he’s where he belongs
Now tell me where do the great ones go when they’re gone

I loved that old man, I wrote him this song
Now tell me where do the great ones go when they’re gone
Now tell me where do the great ones go when they’re gone
Now tell me where do the great ones go when they’re gone

Don’t scare me!

World’s Scariest Baby, right here in my own living room! This is Henry’s latest trick – he’ll circle the room, giving everybody a good scare before letting out one LOUD, LONG scream for good measure.

I know it’s probably terrible to encourage him like this, but it’s also hilarious – plus, he ate an avocado with his dinner last night, so I think I’ve got some accrued mom karma to cash in on.

Hymn of Promise

image via

image via

In the bulb there is a flower; in the seed, an apple tree;
In cocoons, a hidden promise: butterflies will soon be free!
In the cold and snow of winter there’s a spring that waits to be,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

There’s a song in every silence, seeking word and melody;
There’s a dawn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me.
From the past will come the future; what it holds, a mystery,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity;
In our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity,
In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

My mom, my aunt, and I attended my great aunt’s funeral this afternoon. It was a truly beautiful service for a beautiful woman.

I grew up in the  Methodist church, and my favorite part of any service has always been the music.

Today, the reverend mentioned that my great Aunt Dot often turned to the hymnal as a devotional, and I can absolutely see why. So many hymns are written with such beauty, peace, and hope — the one quoted above, Hymn of Promise, is especially sweet. I had forgotten how much I love it until we sang it this afternoon.

Grandaddy and Cat Skeletons

I first posted this story years ago. Today I feel like posting it again. Because it makes me happy, because I like this picture of my Grandaddy, and because there’s a lesson here that I need to be reminded of.  Things will only go one way: the way they’re meant to go.

photo taken on our wedding day by The (amazing) Schultzes

Folks, this is Grandaddy. He is a retired fireman, a Rock Hill native, and one of my very favorite men on God’s green earth. He was probably joking with my brother about making him pee blood when this picture was taken. That’s an actual running joke with him. “Boy, I’ll make you pee blood,” he says menacingly. It’s an old joke. Don’t judge.

See the watch on his wrist? As a little girl, I used to sit on his lap for hours fiddling with the links and the clasp, sliding the band off of his wrist and onto mine, running my fingers over the shiny glass face and the brushed metal back, trying to figure out what he learned from this little machine on his arm.

If you’ve met him, you know he’s a character. He has a story for everything, and I don’t think he’s ever met a stranger.

One of my favorite stories is from his fire-fighting days. You know, firemen used to actually get called to people’s houses to get cats down from trees. That didn’t only happen in the cartoons. It happened regularly in real life.

One day, a woman’s cat ran up a tree. Or telephone pole. I forget which. It was a tall, wooden thing. Distressed, she called the fire department. Mind you, my grandfather once had a rat terrier that he trained to chase and kill cats — but that was on his own time. On company time, he was a feline hero. So, being the good firemen that they were, they loaded up the truck and drove across town. When they got to the lady’s house, she was a mess. She was crying, wailing, lamenting her poor kitty — certain that he was on the brink of his ultimate demise. My Grandaddy tried the ladder and found that it wasn’t tall enough to reach the cat atop his perch in the tree/telephone pole.

“What do you MEAN you can’t get to him?!” she cried. “What are you going to DO?! What about poor FLUFFYYYYY?!” (Confession: I don’t know the cat’s name. I also don’t know that this is an exact quote. I like to picture this woman in hysterics, a hand thrown daintily across her forehead, seconds away from the smelling salts.)

“It’s not tall enough,” he said. “That’s all there is to it. Give him time, he’ll come down on his own. It’ll be ok.”

“He CAN’T come down on his own!” she wailed. “He’s TRAPPED, he’ll DIE!” Here, I like to picture her in full on panic mode, clinging to my stoic grandfather, hyperventilating, searching the pockets of her housecoat for a hard candy.

“Lady,” my Grandaddy said. “Look around. Just look.”

She looked.

“How many cat skeletons do you see hanging from trees on this street?” he asked. “He’ll come down when he’s ready, and you’ll just have to wait ’til then.”

The Hundred-Year House

Oak Tree in Park“But here at Laurelfield, there was something more in the mornings, a buzzing sensation about the whole house, as if it weren’t the servants keeping it running but some other energy. As if the house had roots and leaves and was busy photosynthesizing and sending sap up and down, and the people running through were as insignificant as burrowing beetles.”
— Rebecca Makkai, The Hundred-Year House

I finished The Hundred-Year House tonight. I really, really enjoyed it.

When I worked for Biltmore, my favorite perk was free admission to the estate. I loved visiting the house late in the afternoon, in time for the last (least crowded) tour of the day. I would drag my feet through each room, trying to drink in as many details as I could, imagining what life in the big house would have been like through the years. What was it like to sit in the library with the windows open during a rainstorm? How was it to eat breakfast on the patio? What was the house hide-and-seek record? And most of all, what were the people really like?

The Hundred-Year House is written in installments by generation. It starts in 1999 and ends in 1900, spanning four generations of life in the house (in reverse) at Laurelfield. With each new section, the reader gets some (but not all) of the answers to the questions asked by the people living in the house. You’re a fly on the wall, learning the secrets and the truth (but not quite the whole truth) behind the house’s ghost stories and bumps in the night. There are hate-able characters and love-able characters and (best of all) characters who you can’t quite pin into one corner or the other.

If you’re into historical fiction, ghost stories, or old houses, you’ll probably be into this book and its secrets. It’s one of my favorite reads of the year.

Next up, I’m due for a nonfiction book (which means I’m working hard to resist the draw of The Miniaturist). Any recommendations?