Thursday, December 26, 2013

That Old Wooden Chair

 That old wooden chair was his favorite spot to be
Sitting in the sunshine in the warmth of the day
Looking out across the land he loved so much
It stirred up memories that carried him away

He always took pride in those big cornfields
 He plowed from sun up to sun down
There’s nothing left but underbrush now
Nary a stalk of corn planted in the ground

Those fields made good corn back in the day
He hauled many a load to the gristmill
Even if it took him all day in that wagon 
On an old gutted out road, most of it uphill

He always tried to share his bounty with others
Everyone wasn’t fortunate to have a good year
Even the stalks made for good fodder
That livestock sure did make it disappear

There was always plenty of planting going on
Whether it be corn or gardens growing so kind
Had to eat come summer or winter
Everything was canned, nothing was left behind

Even before the harvest had time to come in
He thought about winter and what it would bring
He had to keep the home fires burning, or else
If the weather got to bad and firewood got lean

He’d been all over those mountains and hills
Cutting and snaking out wood, it was the only way
That old mule knew how to work hard
He sure could pull that sled on any given day

One can never have enough wood to burn
In the winter when the sun sets low in the sky
Back when he was young and strong
Work was a pleasure, he could never deny 

He could still hear those cherished words
Come on home now, it’s suppertime
He’d grab a dipper of cold, spring water
A sure cure for a hot thirst every time

Sitting on the porch in that old wooden chair
With his sweetheart, wife and best friend
Meant more to him than anything in the world
Oh how he yearned to do it all over again

There’s that pretty little grove of apple trees
Been there many a year, and so content
She helped to plant them, they brought a smile
Even with their trunks so bowed and bent

Her pretty flowers still bloomed in the spring
He always told her she had a green thumb
More beauty than an old man’s heart could hold
He’d soon see her, she was waiting for him to come

Awe, it sometimes brought tears knowing
Time and circumstance had left him behind
Yearning for the things he’d lost and loved 
 Made him feel like he wasn’t worth a dime

He knew his life’s work was over and done
Remembering those bygone days brought a smile
They sure knew how to lift an old man’s spirits 
From the warmth of that chair, if only for a while

Today the old house is so empty and quiet
 Nary a sound but the mantle clock’s tick
Plenty of reminders in every nook and crack
Over in the corner is that little walking stick

The sun still shines on that little window seat
The little birds sing but there’s no one to hear
So much nostalgia and loneliness left behind
In the heart of that old wooden chair

© Susie Swanson, 2013

I find it quite strange what one can find in a picture. I hope you enjoyed what I found. Happy New Year and God Bless, Susie

Friday, December 20, 2013

My Christmas Card To You

                                                      Every name is a blessing
                                                      upon this list of mine
                                                      somewhere our paths have crossed
                                                      in another place and time

                                                      Perhaps it was years ago
                                                      or only yesterday
                                                      but every person on my list
                                                      has changed my life someway

                                                     A simple hug or conversation
                                                     a friendly smile or meal
                                                     a spoken prayer to God above
                                                     has helped me grow and heal

                                                     Perhaps God went through you
                                                     and wove his magic twine
                                                     in some small or kindly deed
                                                     to touch this heart of mine

                                                     You wished the gray clouds away
                                                     and prayed for rain instead
                                                     I raised my eyes to heaven
                                                     and found a rainbow overhead

                                                    Worldly things that trouble me
                                                     just seems to disappear
                                                     knowing you are always there
                                                     across the miles or near

                                                    You restore my faith, love and hope
                                                     a bond that will never cease
                                                     so many wonderful family and friends
                                                     brings to me an inner peace

                                                    Each day my list continues to grow
                                                    and each name I hold so dear
                                                    each one has brought Christmas joy
                                                    everyday of the year

                                                   This Christmas Card I give to you
                                                   is more than just a wish
                                                   it's a thank you to God above
                                                   for putting you on my list

                                                   © Susie Swanson, 2013

                                                   Merry Christmas Everyone. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Memories

Christmas is a time for joy and happiness, spending time with family, remembering Christmas past when times were so different, simple but grand.
Sadly, a lot of the old ways have been left behind and Christmas has become a commercial holiday. Not so, back in the day when all we had to wake up to was an orange and apple or one present a piece if we were lucky. We felt rich as a king in our hearts. We’d search through the woods for the perfect tree and sometimes that took days and every year it looked the same. We had to tie the top of it to the curtain rod to get the star to stay in place. It was cut from cardboard with aluminum foil wrapped around it to make it shine. Our decorations were holly berries and popcorn strings wrapped around the little droopy tree. The stockings were hung near the tree the night before, anticipating our once a year Christmas treat.
Then as I grew older I noticed something was missing, mama and daddy never did get a present. I felt so bad on Christmas morning when we all opened our stockings or the one present that Santa had managed to bring each one of us. So one year I fell on a plan to make sure daddy and mama had a present. I started saving every little penny I could save, mostly pay from an older lady that hired me to come in the summer and do some house cleaning and yard sweeping. I put them in an old quart jar in my bedroom closet. I didn’t want anyone to know about them so I kept quiet as a mouse. When Christmas Eve rolled around I kept asking mama if she needed anything from the store for her baking or cooking. I knew she always made a black walnut cake from the walnuts we’d cracked and hulled out earlier in the fall. We always saved some for our Christmas cake. She also made a homemade apple sauce cake too. The rest of Christmas dinner consisted of food we’d canned from the gardens in the summer and fresh hog meat that had been killed just before Thanksgiving or Christmas.
I prayed she would need something really bad, bad enough to send me to the store. We always walked to the little country store just over  the road from the house. I kept asking are you sure you don’t need anything from the store and finally she spoke up and said, well if you want to hoof it bad enough I need a dozen eggs for these cakes. Just what I’d been waiting to hear.
 Since our hens didn’t lay much in the winter we only had enough eggs for breakfast if we had any at all.  I ran as fast as my legs would take me towards that quart jar and grabbed those pennies and put them in my pocket. Mama gave me a list to fill and I found out she needed more than she thought. I just about run all the way to the store. When I got there I gave the list to the storekeeper to fill as usual while I looked around. I already had in mind what to buy for mama and daddy’s Christmas present. When he got done filling the list and I paid him with the money mama gave me and stuck what little change she had left back in my other pocket I reached in and brought out the handful of pennies I’d saved. I handed them to him and said will this much money buy a small box of Garrett Strong Snuff and a pack of Camel Cigarettes? He said, well let me count what you got. He counted each penny and told me I had just enough, which I surely doubt today every time I think about it.
He put the little box of snuff for mama and the cigarettes for daddy in a small, brown bag and I stashed them in my pocket so they couldn’t be seen. I felt happy as a lark walking back home. I didn't even stop but long enough to sit mama’s eggs and stuff on the table and took off towards the bedroom. I took out the little bag and looked for something to wrap the presents in. I came up with a plan to wrap each one in a piece of brown paper cut from the paper bag  that I carried mama’s groceries in. I slipped in the kitchen and found the paper bag mama had emptied and grabbed some scissors and run back into the bedroom and cut a big enough piece to wrap each present in. I felt so much joy in my heart and couldn't wait to see their eyes come morning.  I was all set, come bed time I’d slip back up after everyone went to sleep and put mama and daddy’s Christmas presents under the tree. I laid there so quiet and listened to the old clock tick away until everyone was fast asleep. I had the presents hid under the bed covers. I eased up and tip toed into the living room and laid the presents under the tree. Then I slipped back into bed and finally fell asleep. The noise woke me up come morning and I jumped straight up and ran for the living room. Everyone was there opening their presents and we all got one present. Daddy and mama must have had a little extra money to pay Santa with that year. I got a puzzle cause Santa knew I loved putting puzzles together. After all of us kids had opened our presents I crawled under the tree and got mama and daddy’s present and handed it to them. They both looked really serious and said what’s this? I told them it was something Santa left for them. They opened it up and their eyes lite up more so than the tree. Daddy said, I wonder who told him what kind we used. Mama said, I wonder the same thing but I sure can use it.
At that moment I had the most joy in my heart and worth more than diamonds and gold. Now, I know a lot of folks reading this are thinking how did she buy that snuff and cigarettes and her being just a kid. You gotta remember it was a very different time and era and everybody knew each other. We’d patronized that little store so much and the storekeeper was kin to us. I remember sometimes when we went in there and he had some bananas that were getting to ripe to sell he’d give us a bunch. Times sure have changed today and like I said the old ways have fell by the road side, left behind to fade into the past. Christmas is not about buying presents and spending big bucks just to make sure the kids are happy. It’s about love of family, sharing, thinking of the less fortunate, being satisfied with what you have, teaching your kids the true meaning of Christmas. The little things are the most important in life, not the big things and putting God in our hearts every day of the year.  I cherish those long ago Christmases, although we weren't rich in money, we had wealth a thousand ways more. I wish I could go back to that simple old time when the little things were treasures and worth more than money could buy.

© Susie Swanson, 2013

Merry Christmas Everyone

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Next Time I See Mama

                                                     The last time I saw mama
                                                     She was sad and broken down
                                                     Her hair was silver gray
                                                     No sunshine could be found

                                                     Her body was wracked with pain
                                                     It brought heartache and tears
                                                     My mama suffered bravely
                                                     For so many days and years

                                                     The old homeplace is now empty
                                                     In the corner sits her chair
                                                     I can still hear her sweet voice
                                                     As it lingers everywhere

                                                     The next time I see mama
                                                     She'll be walking streets of gold
                                                     A shining crown upon her head
                                                     Truly a sight to behold

                                                     She'll wrap her arms around me
                                                     As when I was a child
                                                     Oh the joy my heart will feel
                                                     To see my mama's smile

                                                     We'll talk through out the ages
                                                     Then hug and talk some more
                                                     Nothing but joy and peace
                                                     On heaven's golden shore

                                                     The next time I see mama
                                                     She'll be waiting there for me
                                                     I know my mama's not gone
                                                     She's only been set free

                                                  © Susie Swanson, 2013

I lost my sweet mama 16 years ago today. My heart still hurts and is so empty but the good memories keep me going. This is for you mama until we meet again. I love and miss you more each day. Love always, Susie

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


                                                      Reflections in the window
                                                      of the early morning sun
                                                      streaks of silver hair glow
                                                      another day has begun

                                                      Two chairs sit together
                                                      with hands clasped beside
                                                      another day is a treasure
                                                      God lovingly does provide

                                                      Youth has passed them by
                                                      youth was oh so sweet
                                                      as the oak tree facing the sky
                                                      from their window seat

                                                     A parent's bond is strong
                                                     father, mother and friend
                                                     the children are now grown
                                                     voices still linger in the wind

                                                    Loneliness may surround them
                                                    each day together they pray
                                                    the sunshine never grows dim
                                                    even upon a cloudy day

                                                   There's no regret or blame
                                                   when death comes to call
                                                   one heart they'll remain
                                                   in heaven standing tall

                                                   Reflections in the window
                                                   two empty chairs are there
                                                   sunshine from heaven's halo
                                                   streaks across silver hair

                                                  © Susie Swanson, 2013

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Old Timey Meetins

I don’t reckon I’ve ever been in any better church meetings than when I was a young girl and we went to those spirit filled revivals and singings. The whole church house would rock from the preaching, shouting and singing. They were called meetins back then and everybody for miles around packed in those little churches and it was standing room only if one was lucky. A lot of the time most folks would just stand outside and listen.

I’ll never forget the night the Lord spoke to my heart. It was during one of those old, timey meetins that I hit that alter faster than a cat could lick. I was 13 years old and remember it as if it was yesterday. I got baptized in a little swimming hole called the Tadpole Hole.  In that moment in time my life surely changed and it gets sweeter by the day.

We had to walk to get to most of em but that didn’t sway anyone from going. Very few people owned a vehicle and there wasn’t many on the roads. 
I started out walking with my grandma when I was very young. There wasn’t any roads that were to long or wide for her to hoof it on. She was a shoutin woman for sure. She’d shout the hills out come Decoration Day and Dinner on the ground, and when we’d get in one of them kind of meetins she never stopped from the time she walked through the door, never knew when to hush. Mama and daddy went when they could but it was hard on em with a whole gang of kids to drag along.

After my grandma passed away things changed. More folks got a vehicle and were able to haul their families to church. My daddy loved a good old, timey spiritual singing better than anything. When he found out where one was gonna be, he’d always ask me if I wanted to go with him. Needless to say, me and daddy went to a lot of singings together.
He’d put on his Sunday go to meetin clothes which always consisted of his best pair of overalls, best shirt and his cap of course and his polished and shiny slippers.

 Daddy loved to run his mouth outside the church and knew everybody there and they knew him but when he entered the door and pulled his cap off he became a different man. I enjoyed those singings but I enjoyed watching daddy’s reactions too. He’d get in such a way and so caught up in that spiritual singing that it touched my heart so much and oh what joy just to see that smile come upon his face and watch him shake his leg , pat his foot or take his old cap and slap it against his legs. He really enjoyed it so much and had his own way of praising the Lord.

We’d go far and near in that old truck of his, didn’t matter what church or affiliation. He didn’t care how big the crowd was or how small, he made himself at home.
My grandma had her way and daddy had his way but I sure did enjoy going to those old timey, meetins and good, spiritual singings with daddy.

A lot of things have changed over the years but there’s still plenty of singings around and every time I go to one I think of daddy and can just see him there with that big smile, pattin his foot and slapping his cap against his legs. I know he’s there in spirit and enjoying it as much as me. I can only imagine the many singings he’s enjoying in heaven each day and mama’s right there beside him and they’ve both got a big smile on their face. I’ll see you both real soon, save a place for me in the front right beside both of you. 

© Susie Swanson, 2013

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Love Holds The Key

There’s a little felt hat hanging on the wall
A faded apron hanging behind the kitchen door
 Such cherished old memories so easy to recall
They are still hanging there like always before

He with his overalls, hair and beard of gray
She in her kitchen cooking on a woodstove
That tantalizing smell always made my day
Like cattle to market, they came in a drove

My heart still yearns for that little porch swing
In the warm, summer breeze, they could be found
Watching grandchildren grow, made their heart sing
That little house was a regular stomping ground

When the north wind blew making itself known
The old quilting frames were hanging down low
A masterpiece she made, each square was hand sown
Each stitch was in place lined up in a row

And the little work shed under the maple tree
I can see him there making handles for each tool
He took such pride in his work and artistry
Such a wise man, he never had much school

So much goings on, eyes were bright as the sun
Those cathead biscuits in the oven I still see
Oh how I miss his jokes and tricks, all in fun 
That crabapple sure didn’t taste like an apple to me

 Today the hat and apron are still hanging on the wall
The little porch swing squeaks, calling, calling to me
Although the house is quiet, my memories I still recall
To this granddaughter’s heart, love holds the key

                                                      ©Susie Swanson, 2013

Sunday, December 1, 2013

My Mama's Cure

The old time ways are fading into the past except in our hearts, but my mama’s cure for the Thrash  (Thrush) lives on in many hearts and minds. 
She had a special way of doing it and it was her secret. If anyone ever found out about it, it wouldn’t work, that’s what she always said. It was handed down from her father. He told three women and each one of them could tell three men, so on and so forth. He told my grandma and my aunt ( mama’s sister) . They didn’t carry on the tradition like mama did. They kinda turned it over to her, and boy did she run with it.
 So many little children were brought to her that we lost count years ago. Some kept coming back in later years as well. Their parents found out that whatever mama did worked and word spread fast. There was a special leaf or herb that she used. We always suspected it was a leaf from some bush or tree. She told daddy over the years cause it was wearing her out to fetch it. I asked her about it one time and she said it didn’t hurt for him to know as long as he didn’t find out what she did. Daddy never did want her to tell him. He didn’t want any part of the doctoring as they called it. 
We could always tell when someone was coming to get cured of the thrash or bringing their kids,. When mama saw them coming up the road, she’d slip and tell daddy to go get the  medicine and he always slipped it into her hand when he came back.
 There were a lot of grown ups that came as well. Mama had to blindfold them so they wouldn’t see what she did. I can attest to that. She always said, there were three kinds of the thrash, red, white and yellow. They appear as little blisters in the mouth, usually inside the lower lip or on the tongue or jaw area. Mama could just look at it and tell if it was thrash and tell them what kind they had. 
I’ll never forget having it myself one time after I was grown. I told mama that my mouth was sore and she said, open your mouth. She looked at my mouth and told me I had the White Thrash. I knew something was bad wrong but never did think about it being the thrash.
 Whatever she used always seemed to be close by and in plentiful supply, even in the winter months. She ran over across from the house in the woods and came back and we went in the bedroom. She put a blindfold on me and told me to open my mouth. It wasn’t but about five seconds till she said, you can take it off now, I’m done. I never felt a thing inside my mouth or anywhere for that matter. I never asked any questions except for where she thought I might have got it at. She couldn't give me an answer for that but I’d heard her many times over the years telling people when they asked about it that it was sometimes caused by a kid chewing on a comb that had been used to comb hair or a nasty bottle nipple or paciefier that had been dropped in the floor and never washed before it was stuck back in their mouth. I asked her one time about grown ups and she said it was very often caused by something they’d had in their mouth that wasn’t clean but had no way of knowing.  .
We could always tell when a child or grownup had it when they walked in the door. Their mouth and lips were purple. That was the doctors method of treatment and mama always said it wasn’t worth a dime. After she did her thing they’d always get better. She always told everyone that it might get a little worse but after three days it should start getting better, and if it didn’t to come back and she’d do it a second time. 
I knew one older lady that had to come back three times before she ever got better. Mama said she’d depended on the doctor medicine to long. It went all the way through her. Yes, mama always said if that stuff wasn’t taken care of early on it could go all the way through a person’s body. They’d get diarrhea, fever, chills, etc. That lady had it all but after the third time she got better and praised mama the rest of her life. There were plenty of kids that it happened to as well. 
Between mama and God they always cured them, it may have took more than once but they always got better. Her own family doctor found out she was more successful than him and started sending his patients to her. It got pretty rough on her but she never did charge anyone a dime, said it wouldn’t work if she had of charged anything. 
Over the years there was this one man that kept coming to her to be doctored and he kept bugging her to tell him and she told him she would  if he promised to help her some. I don’t know if he ever kept his end of the deal or not. You couldn’t tell it by the way people kept coming. She wanted to tell one or two of my brothers and I begged them also to let her tell them so they could tell me but nope, they wouldn’t hear of it. She finally told one other man, and he and his wife are still carrying it on today. 
I’ve heard about a lot of different methods and cures over the years and whether they work or not is not to my knowledge but one thing is for certain, my mama’s cure worked and there’s a lot of folks out there today that are living proof. Mama’s faith was the cure, she would do it and walk away knowing in her heart it would work. 
Even though my mama is gone today she left some pretty big shoes to fill in more ways than one and especially when it came to curing the thrash. 

© Susie Swanson, 2013