Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Papa’s Throne

Jimmy’s Papa was a king. It never occurred to Jimmy that this bit of information meant that he was also royalty. He and his family lived like everyone else he knew, not that he knew all that many people since he was only 6. Jimmy had never met his Papa. The family would get letters from him quite often and Jimmy would get cards and presents at Christmas and his birthday. Jimmy had even heard Papa’s voice twice on the telephone down at the general store!

Jimmy loved his Papa. He would write the most amazing stories, telling Jimmy all about the world and the fascinating things in it. The boy longed to visit with his grandpa, the King. He had visions of sitting on his lap while he was on his throne, listening while he dispensed his wisdom to the masses. He would be so proud!

Lazy summer days found the young man lying in the field, watching the clouds go by and daydreaming about what his Papa’s castle must be like. It was odd that his parents never talked much about how his grandpa was a king. Maybe they were just being modest; not wanting to put on airs. He never spoke of it either. Once, he had said something to Ronnie Simmons about how his grandpa was a king and Ronnie had laughed at him and called him loony! A very unpleasant experience, one that the boy didn’t wish to repeat. It didn’t really matter that no one else knew of his grandpa’s important station, Jimmy knew and he was proud.

Papa was getting older. Jimmy could tell because sometimes his letters were a little confusing and he’d overheard his parents discussing their worry for him. While Jimmy was sad that Papa wasn’t feeling well, he was delighted when he learned that they would be travelling to see him! It was a long journey but his parents decided that it must be done. Jimmy could hardly contain himself. Plans were made and bags were packed. Their neighbor gave them a ride to the train station and then they rode for the longest time! Jimmy enjoyed looking out the window at things he’d never seen before. He couldn’t wait to tell his Papa about his adventure. Eventually, he fell asleep despite his excitement.

When they arrived in Papa’s town they started walking. Why hadn’t Papa sent a car to pick them up? Maybe he didn’t know they were coming. It would be a wonderful surprise! It was Jimmy who experienced surprise when his parents stopped in front of a modest house on a regular street and announced, 

“Here we are”.

Jimmy stood stock still, just staring at his parents.

“Jimmy, what’s the matter?” his mother asked.

“This can’t be Papa’s house, he lives in a castle.”

“Now whatever gave you that notion young man?” his father asked.

“Well, Papa is a king! All kings live in castles.” Jimmy couldn’t believe how silly his parents could be sometimes.

Jimmy’s father said, “What makes you think that Papa is a king?”

Clearly exasperated, the child replied, “You always said that when you were a little boy, Papa ruled with an iron fist. You said his word was law. And don’t you remember the letter he wrote to us telling us all about his new throne?”

Jimmy’s parents were speechless! There just wasn’t any way to argue with that logic. They all went up to the door and went inside to see the old man.

Jimmy wasted no time climbing up onto his Papa’s lap. Though they’d never met, Jimmy felt right at home. He hugged his Papa's neck and patted his cheeks and began to tell his grandfather all about their trip on the train. Papa was tired but his eyes glowed as he listened to his grandson.

After supper, Jimmy had an important question for his grandfather.

“Papa, may I see your throne?”

“Why of course Jimmy. Right this way. It’s in its own room”

Papa slowly lead Jimmy down a hallway, opened a door and there it was.

“Isn’t that the fanciest darn thing you’ve ever seen?”

Jimmy didn’t know what to say. He just stared. His parents, who stood a ways down the hall, could barely contain their mirth.

“Jimmy, what’s wrong?” his Papa asked. “Don’t you like it?”

“But Papa, it’s a privy!!”

“Yessiree it is! A privy fit for a king, don’t you think? Everyone else I know has to walk out to the outhouse, rain or shine, day or night, but not your Papa! I’m a lucky man.”

Words matter.

Photo credit: Kathie Schulte

Wednesday, June 29, 2016


The house was too quiet, and hot. She wasn’t used to being home alone. It’s not that she was scared, more that she felt unsettled without him there. She locked all the doors because she was easily startled and got ready for bed. What else was there to do? The fan in the bedroom was necessary due to the excessive heat. It swayed back and forth, pushing hot air over her as she lay on top of the sheet. Her mind was a jumble of thoughts and she wondered if she would ever be able to sleep.

Then she heard it; a voice.

It wasn’t a speaking voice, more like someone singing far in the distance. She couldn’t make out the words or the melody, just a vague sense that someone was singing.

“Maybe one of the neighbors is playing their Victrola. Maybe there’s a party.”

She lay there for a bit longer and the sound never stopped.

“If I turn off that noisy fan, maybe I can hear it better.”

She got up and turned off the fan. It slowly came to a stop and she stood in the warm night air, listening. Nothing.

“I must be losing my mind!” With her nightgown sticking to her damp skin, she turned the fan back on and lay down on the bed.

There it was again! She could just barely hear a voice, singing. As she lay there listening, she grew sleepy and eventually drifted off to sleep.

Her days were filled with work at the shop followed by visiting him in the hospital. She worried: about him, about money, about everything! What would she do after he came home? She had to work but who would take care of him? What if he never came home? Her nights were hot, sweaty and miserable. Her only reprieve came at bedtime when she heard the singing. The music soothed her. Sometimes it sounded like a tenor singing opera. Other times it was more like hillbilly music, something you would hear in the Ozarks, not that she’d ever been there. She only heard it at night as she was trying to go to sleep. She came to look forward to the music; it felt comforting. At first, she worried that she was losing her mind but, eventually, she stopped wondering where the music was coming from and just let it lull her to sleep.

He came home, weak but alive. She managed to find someone to check in on him while she was at work. After work she would hurry home to cook for him and help him in any way she could. Having him back home was wonderful and she slowly stopped worrying about the future. It would take care of itself while she took care of her husband.

You never know where comfort and solace will come from in your time of need. It might be a neighbor or family member who is there for you when you most need them. Or, it might be a fan on a hot summer night, singing you to sleep.