Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

A Trip to Memory

Jackie K. Cooper


A few days ago I went to Clinton, South Carolina, which is the place where I was born and grew up. I don't go back there very often since my father and mother are both dead. I still have a few relatives there, but no one I am especially close to. The purpose of my visit was to get some furniture out of the house my father and stepmother shared. My stepmother is in a nursing home now and will not ever return to her home.

The furniture I was picking up belonged to my mother. It was Kershaw furniture and I wanted it to be in my home and eventually passed on to my children. I also wanted some family pictures that would mean something to me and no one else.

My father and stepmother's home is right next to the house where my mother and father lived along with my brother and me. I had keys to both homes, so I was able to walk through them. Going into the house of my childhood was the event that evoked the most memories. It had been twenty or thirty years since I had been in it and the memories did come back with a rush.

It was the kitchen that made me the most nostalgic. I looked at it and suddenly I could remember cold winter days when we would rush from our bedroom to the kitchen to stand in front of the oven on the stove. Mother would make us cheese toast and we would have coffee milk to drink.

It was in the kitchen where our dogs always had their puppies. Mother would bring our dog in when her due date was near, and she would keep her inside until the puppies were born. We were kept out of the kitchen during the birthing process, so when we got to see our dog she would be lying there with a large number of puppies around her.

The kitchen had a back door that led into a fenced in back yard. I remember being a child and thinking the steps that led down into the back yard were so high. They don't look high any more. Also the back yard was huge in my childhood memories, and now it is postage stamp size. How in the world did we ever ride our bikes back there? There is hardly enough room to turn around.

As I peered into the bedroom I shared with my brother I could see all the furniture that used to be there. Our beds were lined up in an "L" shape against the corner where the windows were. We slept with the windows open and there was always a breeze blowing into the room. No wonder I slept so good growing up.

Standing in that house I could close my eyes and hear the squeaky voices my brother and I used to have. I could hear the low murmur of a tune my mother used to hum. I could smell the bitter sweet sweat of my father when he came home after a long day's work. It was all there waiting to be remembered.

The house I grew up in is the house I lived in when my mother got sick and died. Even with that traumatic event occurring there, it is still a house with good memories. Unlike the house next door where I have mostly bad ones.

I don't know when or if I will ever go back to Clinton. The past is gone and the memories that were good I carry with me. Still I am glad I made that last trip "home." It was good to visit the past one last time.

***

Jackie K. Cooper was born in South Carolina and now lives in Georgia. He is familiar to people living in the middle Georgia area as the "entertainment man" since his entertainment reviews run in newspapers and are shown on television there. His short stories have been used as commentary on Georgia Public Radio. He also keeps active appearing as an after dinner speaker for various events.

Cooper has lived an exceptionally interesting life and portions of it are contained in his first book Journey of a Gentle Southern Man. The journey continued in Chances and Choices.

Jackie's first two books, Journey of a Gentle Southern Man and Chances and Choices, were reprinted and published by Mercer University Press in July 2004. His third book Halfway Home was published by Mercer University Press in October 2004.

Cooper's fourth book, released in 2006, is The Bookbinder.

Visit his website, or email Jackie.

© Jackie K. Cooper

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012