There’s a feeling as I ascend the mountains around winding roads leading back home. An anticipation, an appreciation, a heart-warming emotion overcomes me as I draw near my childhood roots in Bluefield.
In spite of all the busy-ness currently in my life, I heeded a calling that I should head for the hills! A few weeks back I left Tallahassee, stopped a night in north Georgia to pick up my cousin Phyllis (thank you Tom) and began our girls road-trip to the foothills of East River Mountain in Tazewell County. I hadn’t been there since my Mother’s funeral seventeen months earlier, so understandably I was a bit melancholic with uncertainty that I was going home for the first time without Mom. Her house was empty, the home where I spent my teenage years wasn’t home anymore. She had been the anchor; Mom and Dad were the ones I could always count on to love me; the baby of the family.
Driving through the beautiful North Carolina mountains, Phyllis and I chatted about our children briefly, but soon found ourselves talking about our family, our history and our good times growing up back home. I’ve always found my time with Phyllis fun and full of laughter. We’ve matured; both of us since our crazy days at Claytor Lake and Myrtle Beach. But six years my younger, her wit and wisdom are still delightful. Conversation and miles clicked away and soon we pulled into the driveway at Aunt Clara’s house. I was home and it felt good and right.
Anytime I have a listening family ear, I tend to bore them to no end with genealogy trivia like William the Conqueror being our 27th great grandfather or Dad’s boyhood discovery under the seat boxes of Grandaddy Buckland’s 1924 Nash. Shhhh….
I’ve been at this roots searching thing since the 1980’s and have more recorded than I can ever bring to mind, but I’m always eager to share when I can.
Once settled in at Phyllis’s childhood home, she sent a couple of texts to cousins in search of THE Buckland Family Bible with names and dates recorded. Eureka! Every genealogist’s treasure chest of data. (photos below) Before long, a couple of cousins and my brothers arrived to share fun times as we sat on the screen porch at Aunt Clara’s. Good summer times!
Family connections run deep in our mountains. There’s something sweet when our conversations pick right back up where we left off years ago. It’s that bond of family ties that is unmistakably the best – the very best.
I enjoyed time with both my brothers, Ellis and Larry, sister-in-law Susie, cousin Mary Ann (Uncle Walter’s oldest) and her husband Joe. I enjoyed breakfast too! Aunt Clara’s biscuits and gravy shared with Phyllis’s long time friend, Kim Beavers. Aunt Clara’s hospitality and genuine kindness are gifts that cannot be surpassed. I know first hand that she’s always had this gift. In the days when we (a bunch of us) used to go to the lake to spend the weekend with her and Uncle Charles and their family, and all our friends, and all their friends, and the friend’s friends, she would start her day perking coffee and cooking a full breakfast of bacon or sausage, eggs and the all time favorite – biscuits and gravy was the crowd pleaser. While we all went out on the water to ski or cruise in the boats, without missing a beat she worked tirelessly in the kitchen preparing our next meal and the next. A constant servant with a heart of love. And if you ask any one of the many young teenagers that passed by her table, they will share with you the stories of her love, her hospitality, the fun and the memories that were made along the banks of Claytor Lake.
Thank you Aunt Clara and Phyllis (and husband Tom) for giving exactly what I needed – love. Thank you Larry for jumping headfirst into THE LIST! Thank you Buck for the sweet visit. Thank you Mary Ann and Joe.
Family is special to me and I want you to know that. I love that I’m from these mountains and the rich heritage we share.