Daddy’s Final Resting Place (for his bones, anyway) Friday, Jan 28 2011 

I’m honored and blessed that I was able to be in Daddy’s presence part of yesterday afternoon in his final hours.  Honestly, it wasn’t a pleasant scene, but by the end of the day he breathed his last and went on to his reward.

The cemetery rises on a hill above the old church building.

Watching a loved one die is not high on my list of “things I enjoy doing,” but there really is something sacred in the process of life and death.  The same as we go into the delivery room with our wives at that end of life, so it’s fitting that we sit with our dying parents on the other end: The cycle is complete, and on either end, we offer thanksgiving.

My sister and I visited the New Zion Cemetery yesterday afternoon and picked the perfect burial spot at the top of the hill.  The plot presides over a lovely view of the old church that Daddy pastored (and largely built with his own hands), of the grounds where we played as children growing up in the parsonage next door, and even the field in the back that Daddy sowed with rye grass every fall so Daisy the Moo-cow (our family milk purveyor) would have nourishment through the winter.

Even though Daddy won’t be in that casket in the ground, the grave marker will provide a Beth-el for our family for generations to come, a granite remembrance that  Daddy’s character and the character of this place and its people are woven into the fabric of generations of his descendants.

What’s in a name? (Even in mine?) Tuesday, Jan 25 2011 

What’s in a Name?  Maternity Rulz, I think.

A Casual Essay Composed July 2009: Writing with kids In the WordUp Youth Writing Camp At Louisiana State University.

             Me llamo David.  Je m’apelle David.  My name is David.  The same in many

Mon nom de plume!

languages.   So what?

            I’m named after a very famous Hebrew king of Old Testament antiquity.  After my oldest sister got the only secular name in the family (“Janice”), Mama, out of an act of Christian consecration, determined to give strong biblical names to the four of us who followed.  On that basis, I could have been named Methuselah Pulling.  Or Habakkuk Pulling.  Or Festus Pulling.

 Or how about Zepho Pulling?   (He was one of Esau’s sons.  Sounds like the nickname for a gangstah.)

 So David wasn’t bad, considering what could have been.

            The sum of this casual analysis, whether we like our names or not, is that names are for parents.  And mostly for moms.  Like Sarah declared to me when we were thinking of names for our kids and she didn’t care for my suggestions, “When you can climb on that table in the delivery room and have the baby, then you can name the baby!”

            Yes, naming babies is the privilege of maternity.  So I am David because my mom liked the name above all other possibilities.  And, she never consulted me in the choice.  I live with the result, and “Hey, it’s OK.”  If naming me David made her happy and proud, then I’m happy and proud, too, because without her, I would not only NOT be David, I would not BE!

Country Roads Acadiana: Who shot the horse in Arnaudville? Thursday, Jan 20 2011 

Arnaudville, Louisiana, rests off the beaten path in the heart of St. Landry Parish, right at the confluence of Bayous Fusilier and Teche.  All roads leading into Arnaudville follow one or the other of the gently winding bayous–very picturesque, very “Louisiana.”  I’ve only been to Arnaudville a couple of times, but each time I had the sense I was in a place where time has stood still for a generation of two.

Some low-life shot a man's horse in Arnaudville!

The sign photographed here reinforces that consciousness of place standing still.  A horse shooting?  That’s like the wild, wild west of Gunsmoke and Wagon Train!  Indeed, those western genres reinforced the honor code of the American cowboy, who considered a horse thief with the same disdain today that we might consider a pedophile (Pedophilia didn’t exist in the black and white moral code of the TV and movie western–horse thievin’ was about as lowlife as there was!).

And so there was a horse shootin’ recently in Arnaudville.  Incredible.  I can’t imagine finding a sign like this at the city outskirts of Spokane or San Antonio or Indianapolis–Only in a place like Arnaudville, a place delightfully preserved in time, an icon of small town Acadiana-on-the-bayou that we should cherish as long as we can.

Dr. King’s Birthday: more than a day off . . . Tuesday, Jan 18 2011 

As a rhetorician, Dr. King was beyond eloquent.

As an educator, the MLK holiday is a January highlight.  Just a couple of weeks after the rudeness of having to return to work, here comes a long weekend!  Sarah and I took advantage of the freedom this day, in fact, to browse the shopping centers in Lafayette.

But lest I be accused of appropriating Dr. King’s birthday weekend for selfish diversions, let me post this memorial to the Civil Rights leader’s memory and to the significance of his influence on history.  As a rhetorician, the “I Have a Dream” speech stands  as one of the absolutely grandest demonstrations of effective English in the tradition of American oratory.

May we not forget “I have a dream.”

Country Roads, Acadiana: Marketing at the Corner Store Wednesday, Jan 12 2011 

The portable marquis invites patrons in to buy beer, wine, liquor, and propane.

Collagan’s Grocery rests alongside the Prairie Ronde Highway in rural St. Landry Parish, Louisiana, between the prairie villages of Lawtell and Plaisance.  I passed Collagan’s today on the way to a meeting at a rural high school.  The portable marquis at the roadside beckoning patrons to come in and buy their wares intrigued me: beer, wine, liquor, and propane.

Hmmmmm. . .  Perhaps  the proprietor reasons that the word “Groc,” obviously an abbreviation for grocery, assumes that patrons inherently expect to find milk, bread, egg, and other grocery staples, so the proprietor wants the patrons to know that he  also carries other commodities that folks in the region may want or need: beer, wine, liquor, and propane.

Wanted or needed in that very order? Who knows?  Market research into the wants and needs of the Prairie Ronde neighborhood could provide a reasonable explanation, and maybe that’s a project for a future post.

At any rate, it’s apparent that whether one wishes to get smashed, bashed, trashed, lit, hit, gassed, hot, or light-headed, Collagan’s Grocery peddles just the wares.

Only in the fabled land of Acadiana!

 

Life’s Sun is Sinking Low . . . Friday, Jan 7 2011 

We enjoyed seeing Daddy in the nursing home for Christmas during the holidays.  His Altzheimers notwithstanding, and

Sarah (left) and Mama (right) pose with Daddy.

not knowing who he recognized or not, at least he grinned and laughed a lot while we were there.

I like this photo we took with Sarah (my wife) and Mama (in her mid-80’s, believe it or not).  Daddy really seemed happy during our visit.

I should find the pictures of Payton that we took–He beamed at the sight of his great-grand daughter, though I’m sure he didn’t know exactly who she was or from where she came–But he so obviously loved her and delighted in that child.   Such is the mystery of his illness.

Bless his heart, Payton is his own flesh and blood–I think he understood that in his own way. Thank God for a day in eternity when  his present frailty will pass and he will again know clarity and perfect joy.

Bowl Season Endeth? Gather ye rosebuds while ye may! Tuesday, Jan 4 2011 

Football kicked off in late August; then, early January seemed ages away.  But we arrive at the dawn of the new year.  Football as we have known it is about to end.

Arkansas qb Ryan Mallett leads the Hogs against Ohio State in this evening's contest (Go, SEC!)

One more week of nightly games, one more football Monday night.

Alas, ye must gather ye rosebuds while ye may, merry men of fandom.  Drive the family from the TV room, seize the remote, chase the dog off the sofa, and stake your claim to your birthright: Man’s privileged status to savor these remaining hours of football without distractions, chores, phone calls, or interruptions.

Yay, verily, the days hasten soon when you will languish on Monday nights (and Thursdays and Saturdays and Sundays) contemplating the meaninglessness of existence in the offseason.  You’ll dawdle away hours in idle channel flipping from NatGeo documentaries on wildebeest migration to re-runs of Andy Griffith and Leave It to BeaverAmerican Idol and the NBA on TV will bore you–You may find some relief when spring comes and the days lengthen so you can spend more time out doors, but your heart will yearn for the end of summer and the beginning of life again as you have known it in seasons past.

May we live to cherish these final days,  and may the best teams win (meaning all teams SEC, of course).