I'd walked this road many times before. Enough to know each bump and turn, even the gouges left unfilled where large stones had been removed to save on tires as they rolled through this small Georgian town.
Unpaved, there was almost a comfort floating above the road ahead. Dust blanketed my warm cheeks as I passed a long line of Cleveland Pear trees, marveled at a beautiful Autumn Purple Ash and quickly approached a single Weeping Willow in a clearing to my right.
Somewhere in the distance a Laughing Gull cackled as sparrows flew playfully above my head. It was a clear, warm autumn afternoon ...not too hot nor too cold...temperature near perfection as I paused to rest under the willow's shade.
It was here where my mind continued to wander. Years before, as a child I'd saundered down to the swimming hole with my brother, fishing pole in hand, eager to catch the biggest pickerel just to show him I could. After all, I was young and little but still could not be shown up by a boy, even if he was my brother.
Other travels along this roadway included Sunday jaunts to church. Always dressed like a little lady right down to my patten leather shoes and golden locket with my puppy's picture inside. After a couple of hours of sermons, singing and community connectedness, I'd skip home, often stopping under this same willow tree to catch my breath and steal a few more moments of childlike independence. "Oh to be so carefree again." I thought with a sigh.
My memories were abruptly interrupted by a sound I hadn't heard in years. *Creak* The wrought iron gate behind the willow tree had been loosened by a gentle breeze and in its old familiar whine it spoke to me.
Could it be? Even after all these years? Quickly I jerked to face the sound. Sure enough, the gate was still hanging from one hinge- three decades since I'd first noticed its dilemma. As a child, it had been the focal point for several ghost stories told by summer campfires or during teenage pajama parties. A smile crossed my face as I remembered telling my best friend one day I would write a screenplay about that eerie little gate.
Of course, the years melted away without another thought of my cinema creation, but today here I sat, still intrigued with this particular spot along the roadway to my childhood home.
Behind the wrought iron gate, gravestones painted the grassy hillside, tangible symbols of those who once frolicked these same neighborhoods long before I cut my first baby teeth.
The gate, untouched and unfixed, seemed to act as a passageway for the past to touch the future. Its whine, the suffering of those who walked before me. Their pain healed only by the goodness brought into the future from their efforts.
As my eyes squinted against the sun's piercing brightness, a thought materialized. Perhaps this gate's creaking should never be fixed. Let it catch the breeze and remain a constant reminder of past sacrifice. Allow that love to continue to touch our future, our now. Only by remembering where we came from, can we ever hope to move forward.
Youth Baseball and the Old Men Who Coach It
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