Diane and I traveled to West Jefferson a few days ago to meet my parents. They were staying in Banner Elk for a few days and wanted to see us. We had lunch together at Boondock's Taphouse and Restaurant. We made it easy for the server, all of us ordered the Quiche of the Day. Mom and I had wild rice and sausage soup on the side. Dad and Diane had a house salad. It was all really good. We sat outside and enjoyed the sunshine and the clear mountain air along with every bite of our lunch.
Just after we placed our orders, I reached inside my camera bag, which I carry just about everywhere, and removed a square, aluminum foil wrapped package. It had a thick greenish cloth ribbon tied around it. I slid it across the table to Dad. He looked at it for a second or two.
“What is this? A block of chocolate?” He asked with a smile.
“Nope, it is something for Father's day and for your birthday, just in case I should forget it later.”
Dad picked it up and admired the wrap job.
“Hey, when you live in a motorhome, you sometimes have to improvise, cause you can't carry everything around and that everything includes gift wrapping stuff.” I replied.
“Before you open it I want you to know that I wasn't sure what to get you for Father's day. I thought for quite awhile, and then Hazel inspired me.”
Dad unwrapped the aluminum foil. I helped him take the tight white cardboard sleeve off of the blue hinged box. Dad opened it and saw a gold skeleton mechanical pocket watch. He removed it and pushed the latch, the front flipped open. I pushed the button again and the back flipped open.
“My dad had a gold pocket watch” He said. “He pinned it to his pj collar”.
“I know” I replied. “I wanted you to have one while you have time to enjoy it. I got one for father's day too. When you look at yours you can think of me, and when I look at mine, I will think of you.”
“Do you like it?” I asked.
Dad put the watch away and then he carefully re-wrapped the box.
He looked up at me and slowly nodded his head.
“Very much” he said.
We finished lunch, payed our bill, and then headed out to main street for a bit of shopping.
We took our time roaming in and out of the gift and antique shops. As we walked up to one shop next door to the Old Hotel, I saw three mountain goats made from, as I soon found out, old car parts. I fell for them. They were three different sizes, each with a red cow bell around its neck.
“These are great!” I said.
“If you want to get one, I will buy this small one.” Mom informed me.
I couldn't pass that up. So I came home that day with two “old goats” as Diane calls them, to go with my three old crows on our lot.
While I was carrying my new goats to the car, bells clanging the whole way, Mom, Dad, and Diane kept browsing in the shops. I came back and we made our way to an ice cream parlor. We each had some and by then our day was winding down. We went back outside into the heat.
Mom started feeling faint.
We sat her down on a bench while Dad went for the car.
A storekeeper saw us and brought Mom a bottle of cold water. Very nice of her to say the least. Mom took a couple of sips and started to feel better. Diane and I helped Mom into the car, as she gave us a both a hug goodbye, and they left for Banner Elk.
Diane and I were driving along Route 21 when my cell rang. Diane answered it. It was Dad calling to tell us they were almost back at their time share and that Mom was doing fine. Diane could hear her chatting in the background and she sounded like her old self.
That was a relief.
Mom is safe, Dad likes his watch, and I have two goats standing peacefully on our berm.
Last night Diane and I attended the Steep Canyon Rangers concert at the Blue Ridge Music Center. The opening performance was by Dori Freeman. She played and sang an old Appalachian Song called “Gold Watch and Chain.” My new gold watch and chain, exacly like the one I gave to my Dad, was in my pocket. I took it out, looked at it and thought about my Father, my Grandfather, and Hazel.
I bet you are wondering who Hazel is.
My Aunt Hazel is Dad's sister. She recently passed away or to be more accurate passed over. She is with the Lord now. I am sure He is enjoying her company. She was ninety six years old. She was Dad's Big Sis and practically his second Mom. Hazel Hedrick had a light about her. She was a leader of the Parker and Hedrick families and inspired us all. She was a published writer and poet. Maybe some of her talent has rubbed off on me, I sure hope so.
It was one of her poems that left me no choice as to what to get my Dad for Father's day:
Watch of Gold
Here it is Christmas time once more
My mind goes back some years before
Our Daddy lay there sick in bed
We knew that he would soon be dead.
We ask our Dad what he would like
He smiled and said, a brand new bike
Then he was as serious as could be
Took Mama's hand and looked at me
I'd like to have a watch of gold
One my new suit vest pocket would hold.
That's been my dream for all these years
And then his eyes filled up with tears.
Our Dad, like us, was raised up poor
The wolf, stayed just outside the door.
He never received a store bought toy
Not even as a little boy.
We kids scraped up every cent we could
And bought our Dad a watch, real good.
It set us back a few hundred greens
A gift far, far beyond our means.
When Christmas morning rolled around
Mom with Dad's gift, we all sat down
Around our dear, sick Daddy's bed
When he unwrapped it, this he said,
"You shouldn't have spent so much dough,
But this is super great you know.
It's the nicest gift I have ever received"
As he wiped his tears on Mama's sleeve,
"Mom, find for me a safety pin"
He pinned the chain beneath his chin
To the collar of his P.J. top
And wound it so it would not stop.
He pressed the gold watch to his heart
As I felt my tear drops start.
We kids moved quickly from the room
As Mom picked up her near by broom
And tears rolling slowly down his cheek
Our Dad, so happy, sick and weak
Dropped off to sleep and to dream land
With his new gold watch in hand.
Our Daddy seemed like a little boy
And this his very first new toy.
When he received the gift we gave
Which he took with him to his grave.
By Hazel Hedrick