Yesterday we drove to Clarksville Arkansas for my dad's memorial service. I spent much of the time regretting that in almost 20 years I never made it back to Clarksville. Not that I didn't keep in contact with my dad, I had regular phone calls and he was not in Clarksville most of that time, he was traveling all over the place, so every time he came near where I live he would stop for dinner or to stay the night. It was all the rest of his family, that I regret not seeing over the years. It was great though I had tons of hugs and missed yous from the time we arrived until we left.
Then I attempted to take the family to a place that dad used to take us on a regular basis in the summer time. He always called it "Little Piney" however we couldn't find it. Another reason I should have been visiting the place, I couldn't remember where stuff was after all these years. As we were driving around looking for this creek I thought, see I still need my dad, I could have called him and ask for directions. I wanted to take the kids to this spot because it is the place where I caught my first fish. It was the summer between 2nd and 3rd grade. Dad insisted that if I wanted to fish I had to fix my own pole and even put bait on it. I spent a good half hour putting all the stuff on the pole and attempting to worm the hook. I had no fishing experience and no idea what I was doing. In my mind the bigger hooks where easier to use simply because the hole for the fishing line was so big. I eventually got the rod all set up with a huge hook, an evenr bigger bobber and a bout 1/4 of a worm. Dad and I had these 5 gallon buckets turned upside down to sit on. I threw my line out there and waited very patiently for a fish. Once I finally got a bite I was jerking the pole and reeling that line in like I had a fish the size of a whale. When I finally got the fish reeled in, it was about half the size of my hook! There I stood with this hook dangling in front of my face with tiny tiny minow on it! Apparentlty this was pretty darn funny because dad started laughing so hard that he fell backwards off this 5 gallon bucket, he laughed for a really long time before he studdered out " how did you catch that tiny fish with that huge hook!" Then he attempted to inform me that the fish was to small to keep and I would have to throw it back. I was heart broken, it was my first fish and I wanted to keep it! He finally gave in and said "ok, I will build a little circle wall out of rocks to put it in so that you don't have to give up your bucket to sit on" umm yeah he build a circle out of rocks in the water, the wall wasn't as tall as the water was high so when he put the fish in there it simply swam away! His reaction to this was to say "opps, looks like he got away" and I being so young didn't realize he had released my fish, I thought it really excaped!
We never did find the creek yesterday and eventually I turned around and took them to see the place where I grew up. For my entire life the area where I grew was called "Patton Hill" by everyone I ever knew. This was because it was all of my dad's family who owned the land on this dirt road. Unfortunately the roads have been changed, some blocked off by the city when they bought all the land and put in a water treatment plant others created to give access to the area where I used to live. I was disorientated at first because the house we lived in is no longer standing and another building is there. I only recognized the place because there is a telephone pole standing in the middle of the area. Years ago there was a dirt drive that is now covered over with grass, the land across the road had a barbed wire fence that sat back off from the dirt road. Later on my friends Julie, James, Lisa and Brenda lived on the property for a while. Our drive, the road and this empty space made an excellent dirt track for a go cart. we used to fly around this telephone pole at what felt like break neck speed to a bunch of kids. Once my younger brother leaned a piece of plywood against the fence and after a couple of good turns around the pole he drove straight up the ramp and over the fence, caught a huge amount of air time, then landed and kept on driving back through the gate out to the pole just in time for my grandparents to happen to be taking a Sunday stroll up the road to visit. Now my dad had came out and was watching but he arrived to late to realize what my brother was about to do, he saw the event he just didn't arrive in time to see the preparation. Now honestly once the dare devil stunt had already began there wasn't much my dad could have done until after the fact. My grandmother didn't arrive in time to realize that my dad had not approved or assisted in this stunt, so my poor dad got the chewing out of his life. My grandmother threatened to break off a switch and use it on him for allowing us kids to do such dangerous stuff. It was extremely funny, however the downfall to seeing dad get told off by his mother was that the rest of us kids never got a chance to try out the ramp!
I actually drove away from the place feeling let down really. I don't know why I thought it would be the same houses, same people same life sitting there waiting for me to return after all this time but I was just disappointed to see how much it had changed. Growing up on that hill we lived at the end of the dirt road, us kids were allowed to roam around it as much as we wanted because it was all family living in the area. There was a good section of just woods to play in and a dirt road. I spent my summers traipsing up and down that dirt road barefoot, picking berries and plumbs and drinking from a water hose. I honestly don't think I would let my kids walk the area barefoot today, the place seems to have deteriorated over the years and it truly is sad.
Once we left the hill, I took Stephena and the kids into town just to look around. While we were heading into town Tyrel called to invite us over to his house to have a look at the mobil home our dad was living in just before he passed away. He wanted me to look and see if dad had anything I wanted. For me this is just to hard, I feel uncomfortable going through anyones stuff but for certian my dad's stuff. I left with a hat, that was definatly something that my dad would have worn, Stephen picked out a pocket knife from a stock of stuff that I am sure my dad planned to sell at a flee market or knife show or something. I just couldnt go through it like a flee market and take stuff, it just didn't seem right to me.
Afterward we had pizza at Tyrel's house with his wife, son and daughter-n-law. It was nice just catching up and spending some times witht them. We left with the idea that in the summer we will get together and have a weekend at the lake together. It something I pland to do for sure because until this last week the only person in my family that my kids ever met and saw more than once is my dad, its strange for me to have such a strong sense of family when it comes to my own children yet they have never met mine, its another one of those things that just don't seem right.