Today is hair day for mother. I scurry to get my afternoon errands ran and head on down to her house, arriving an hour early so we can run to the local bank before it's time to drop her off at Linda's for her hair appointment. Thinking that I have allowed just enough time, I suddenly find us pulling out of the bank with a few minutes short an hour on our hands. For some reason, I have had a longing to take mother on a trip down memory lane for some time now, so I quickly turn the car in the direction of Lynn, NC.
It isn't long before we arrive at the entrance of Skyuka road where I lived, some 30 years ago. Located just at the entrance is the old building where as a child, I had slipped away without permission on my pony Dolly, to buy candy and sodas one hot summer's day, only to reap the consequences from mother as I returned.
As we travel on up the road, I see the house of old church friends of mother and daddy's. I ask if she remembers who lived there, "Not really" she snaps. "Russell and Betty" I say, "Russell and Betty who?" she says. Years ago, the Gibson family attended Pacolet Baptist Church. Mother and daddy soon became friends with the Constances; Russell, Betty and teenage daughter, Patsy. Russell worked at a bank in Tryon, NC and compared to a young mechanic like my dad, had considerable means. Every Sunday night, my sister Sue and I, two other friends whose dad was a banker as well, would jump into Patsy's mustang convertible and head up to "the Willows" for a cheeseburger. On this particular night, my mom had warned us that daddy was a little short an insurance payment and not to be asking for money to finance our usual trip. Not knowing this information, our banker's daughters begin to beg my dad when the answer "no" was given. Daddy, being the proud man he was, reached deep into his wallet and pulled out a folded twenty dollar bill and handed it over. Eyes meeting my mothers, I knew that there would be a price to pay worth far more than twenty dollars, when we got home.
Driving by, I glance at the driveway which leads to the fancy houses where my sister and I peddled our bikes, selling girl scout cookies many years ago. Continuing on, mother sees through the woods; the house of my childhood friend "Shem." Now this wasn't her real name. It's unclear as to how "Sue Cannon" came about this childhood name, but to this very day, her name is "Shem" to the Gibson girls.
Around the curve is a bridge which holds painful memories for me. My bicycle brakes had given way, some half a mile up the road and I had taken a frightening trip all the way down. Sister Sue running close behind ending on a rocky place in the creek beneath the bridge. Luckily, a bruise to my forearm muscle was the only casualty. A high bank still stands on the side of the road where I had climbed up, thinking I was a big girl, only to refuse to come down until sister Sue ran home for mother's trusty arms to rescue me. It isn't long before we arrive at the old Gibson home place. The house doesn't look the same as my memory holds. The first thing I notice is the absence of the mailbox. Mother comments that a new shed has been built behind the house and seems very uninterested in seeing the place which housed her precious family for many years.
Heading on out, we pass the family cemetery where my dad, sister and mother's family have been laid to rest. I ask her if she'd like to stop, but she seems annoyed, commenting only on the beautiful red leaves of a nearby tree. Next is the old swimming hole, "the cathole" where snakes and muddy creek bottom held no danger for mother's children. I remember pulling my first tooth sitting on the side of the road in our old '54 blue ford while everybody enjoyed a Sunday afternoon splash at "the cathole." Just up the road is "Mountain Shadows." As a little girl, mother and I would shake walnuts from a tree and crack them on huge rocks which stood in the field.
It's not long before we near the end of Skyuka road, only to see the house of my good friend Joan; the one who stole my homecoming crown one October night back in '71. Finally we pass the house of my first teacher crush. Biology might have been difficult for many, but for me, it was the highlight of my day.
Our journey down Skyuka road has come to an end. Mother is disturbed at our long trip and more than ready to keep her hair appointment. I'm not sure who it was that needed this trip the most, me or mother. As I drive on to Linda's, I think ahead in time and wonder which of my children will do the honors of driving me down "memory lane" one day.