Catching up, on Mother’s Day

By Stephen Harris - For The Tribune

Stephen Harris Back In The Hometown

Dear Mom,

I have so much to tell you, and this letter just is not sufficient to cover it all. And I’ve invited my “Hometown” friends to read along, so I’m going to hold off on some things till later.

But first of all do know things here are just fine. In the nearly 40 years since you’ve been gone, I think you’d be surprised with how some things haven’t changed much at all.

All of the next-door neighbors are the same, for instance, except for the Grays, the elderly couple who lived across the road. Four young couples have come and gone from the old Gray house, and I think you’d get a kick at seeing the young family that’s in there now.

The Sunbeam plant where you worked is long gone, as is Chatham, where Dad worked. Yes, Chatham. I know that one’s hard to believe. I’ll have to explain that one in detail later.

I remember you said one time that the only thing remaining that you really wanted to do was to see me married. I’m sorry that the cancer did not allow that, but I was just not going down that road when I was only 19.

A year later it was hard to lose you. It was not as bad as, say, someone losing their mother when they’re 6. But it was hard nevertheless. There have been times since when I still longed to run to you.

But guess what? I did get around to marriage. And today you have a wonderful daughter-in-law who I know you’d adore.

She talks about you sometimes when I make a mess in the house, like tracking in wet leaves and grass on the kitchen floor. Your daughter-in-law says she’s going to have a talk with you someday about my messes.

But I warned her that she’d better not mess with you. You always were so protective of your little boy.

After Dad died I thought long and hard and finally decided to move back into your old house. I think you’d like the new kitchen stuff and the new bay window in front.

I carry the flat-screen TV around from room to room like a suitcase now — the screen is actually bigger and brighter than the old console TV set you bought from the old Elmore’s in downtown Elkin. And I carry the phone around in my shirt pocket. I’ll have to save the details on those for later, too.

And we have this thing in the kitchen called a microwave oven that can cook things in seconds. You’d love it.

I know that you don’t know what I’m talking about. But briefly, the microwave from the 1980s is a little bigger than a breadbox, and we use it more than the regular oven.

Don’t ask me how the thing works. I asked a college friend one time who was on his way to earning a doctorate degree in physics just how does a microwave oven works. He looked up, thought a minute and then said, “It makes the water jiggle.” I didn’t have to the nerve to ask anything more, so I had to let it to go at that.

All of your siblings are gone now except for Uncle Blaine. He loves to talk about you, especially about the ring you bought for him one time at the old Jewel Box in Elkin. I’ve been pumping him for other old stories as well.

I don’t get up to Austin, your old home place, much these days. But I keep in touch with some of my cousins via the Internet.

Simply, I write things on a fancy typewriter that’s hooked up to the telephone line, and I send them notes and pictures, and they do the same. We keep in touch that way. I feel closer to them now than I did when you were here. I know it sounds kind of weird, but then this 21st Century is kind of weird.

You know that newspaper thing I talked to you about? Well, it worked out.

I worked in newspapers for 20 years and was never too far away to not be able to come back and look in on Dad and the hometown from time to time.

I saw live and in person four presidents and five governors and had one of them, Jim Hunt, one time call me by name, though he seemed a bit unsure.

For a time I worked in the state capital and once in a while dropped in on your brothers’ old buddy from Austin, John Brown, who was a member of the state House. Would’ve loved to have shown you around Raleigh and introduced you to some of the bigwigs there.

Now I’m writing a weekly column in “The Tribune,” and I must confess that once in a while I’ve told on you and Dad.

Like that time when Dad told you that Sunbeam had called with a job offer, but when you rushed to return the call you found that he’d tricked you on April Fool’s Day. It was the phone number to Dial-A-Prayer.

Hope you don’t mind all of the newspaper stuff too much. I had to do it, for you two have been such an inspiration and I must share.

Once in a while I still have somebody mention how much they miss you. Often they’ll say something about how sweet you were. Do know that you made an impression around here.

Now I see myself spending my retirement years (yes, I’m about that old now) here in the home that you made, close to my memories and your continuing influence. The future is bright.

My generation has picked up from yours quite well and handling things nicely. We look like your generation, too. Old. Now that’s VERY weird.

And the younger generations behind us are coming along quite nicely, too. I’m sure you’d be pleased.

And do know that I love you very much and always will. I look forward to seeing you again in God’s good time.

Happy Mother’s Day,

Stephen (your little Stevie)

Stephen Harris, a Wilkes county native and resident, returned home to live in State Road.

Stephen Harris Back In The Hometown Harris Back In The Hometown

By Stephen Harris

For The Tribune

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