DNA

Clara Friddle and husbandEarlier in the year, I had my DNA analyzed by ancestry.com and received my results within a few weeks.  It was so amazing to see all the areas of the world where my ancestry began, and how those early relatives scattered and connected, and where we have all established ourselves today.  I now have the confirmation that my family tree connections were correct, even generations back. If you haven’t researched your ancestry, you should.  The kits are not that expensive.  Our son and daughter-in-law gifted my husband and me with ours last Christmas, and it was exciting for the whole family to see the results.  My husband is adopted, so it has a special meaning for him to connect with birth relatives, most of whom he was unaware. Continue reading DNA

Best Laid Plans

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I came across this piece I wrote over ten years ago and decided to post it.  Reading through it I thought, oh my, what a difference a decade makes!  I am not as audacious now as then, for sure.  I know I TRULY have no more time to waste, not to mention money to spend!

Since I wrote the following piece,  I have fallen as much in love with jewelry making, acrylic painting, and decorating hat boxes (not at the same time) as with all the other creative endeavors preceding them.  Those things naturally ran their course the same as did the others I wrote about back then.  Always I come back to my writing.  It patiently waits for me, my old, most faithful, long-suffering friend.  I will never say never, but for now, I believe my addiction to dabbling in various distractions and dalliances, has truly lost its passion, I really do.  The years have gotten away from me, and now the time has come to settle down and seriously focus.  I have two books to finish.  But again, the best laid plans. . . .  Continue reading Best Laid Plans

Choices: Chapter 9

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Chapter IX
A New Leaf
1836

I left Tennessee toward the middle of February, halfway thinking about following my old friend Crockett to Texas to see what was happening there. The Colonel had lost his appetite for Washington politics, according to a man who came into the shop one day saying he had read about it in a copy of the Alabama Watchman.  I suspect Davy simply tired of having his honor trampled by the likes of Andrew Jackson, and opted for more worthy pursuits. For whatever reason, most likely adventure, he went to Texas. Continue reading Choices: Chapter 9

Choices: Chapter 8

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Chapter VIII
Loose Ends
August, 1822

Upon my return, I noticed something peculiar in CB’s behavior.  He seemed preoccupied, on edge, not at all himself.  At first I thought it had to do with me personally, something I had done, or said. It nagged at me that he could be holding me accountable for the death of Louis, finding himself somehow caught in the middle, between the Friedel loss and my part in it. He had become close with the Friedel family, visiting their farm often, tending a full blown romance with Isabel.  Or, I surmised, perhaps he was simply ill at ease with me, not knowing how to address my loss.  He had expected me to return with my wife and baby, my family. It could be that my bereavement was more than he was sophisticated enough to process, not as acclimated in the white man’s ways as I had thought. Continue reading Choices: Chapter 8

The Family

Sitting on the old front porch swing, Julianne waits for the arrival of the unfamiliar, for the seventy-year-old-woman who gave her life.   Gently pushing the toes of her left foot against the floor in rhythm with the suspended motion, Julianne is struck with the profound comfort of her own immobility.  In the midst of the constant procession of life, I wait here, she thought.   Had always waited, it seemed to her now, while her environment ripened around her, touching her, sustaining her, as the patterns of living changed routinely, yet predictably, through the years. Continue reading The Family

The Dream

tom and minnie on wedding dayMammaw Minnie came to me in a dream recently,
As a child near the age I was when she died.
She wore the dress and hair ribbon I’d seen in an old photograph.
Until the dream I did not know they were yellow.
Relatives drifted in and out of familiar old rooms,
forming groups.
Everyone laughed and talked at once. Continue reading The Dream

Choices: Chapter 4

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Chapter IV
Things Change
Autumn, 1821

Crockett rode up one morning wanting to know if I’d be interested in doing some exploring, a little surveying in the territory northwest, almost halfway to the Mississippi, and thought I might want to look around there, perhaps laying claim to a homestead for myself. I had been splitting logs close to the boat’s mooring when he rode up behind me.  Everyone else was over at the Wilkes place.  I was glad it had worked out that way. Continue reading Choices: Chapter 4

Choices: Chapter 3

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Chapter III
Colonel Crockett
1820

We got married on June 30, 1820, on a Friday evening at the Wilkes’ house. The preacher came down from Pitts Burg Landing to perform the ceremony.  He was a Baptist, quite young, a red-faced Scotch-Irish fellow, another Wilkes’ relative.  Danny was not a religious man, as far as I knew. The subject never came up. I had been baptized at Christ’s Church in Montreal, but had never taken to the church life myself, having found it to be an inconvenience, as had my parents.  Mana and her family, on the other hand, were Baptists. Mrs. Wilkes belonged to The Primitive Baptist Church, but Mana must have taken after her father in that respect, for Homer rarely attended services.  Mrs. Wilkes spent a lot of time excusing their absences. Continue reading Choices: Chapter 3

Choices: Chapter 2

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Chapter II
Home on The Tennessee River
1819

I stood on the deck of the houseboat, looking out over the Tennessee River, the sun just coming up over the treetops.  A cold wind blew that fall morning, for which I was grateful. It had been a hot summer, although Danny assured me Tennessee summers were nothing compared to further south. The day Danny brought me home with him, now a few years back, he took me in as his own son.  The turn things took after that was most certainly on my mind that morning. Continue reading Choices: Chapter 2

Choices: Prologue and Chapter 1

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PROLOGUE and CHAPTER I
Journal
of
WILLIAM FEATHERSTONE
Born on July 13, 1801 in Canada, the son of an English foot soldier.
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I, William Featherstone, shakily ink my pen, early on this morning of the twenty-fifth day of February, in the year of eighteen hundred and eighty-eight, with mixed purpose and aged hand.  I pray the prudently written words about to be spilt upon this journal lying blank before me, can somehow bridge the chasm too long existing between the offspring of my daughter I left behind in Tennessee and my children in Texas, for my blood flows through all your veins. Perhaps the words to come will reveal as much to myself as to those of you who read them when I am gone.

Aware that my sun is sinking low and that I have reached the end of my worldly pursuits, I have a few regrets.  I have only one move left in me, that great mysterious exodus just over the horizon, so close now I expect I could reach it in a day or two, if I hurry.  But I am weary, and choose instead to drag my feet a bit, to bide my time.  I need to examine the choices I made in this life, ponder those I did not.  I spend much time lately wondering about the role Fate played in it all, and whether the choices I made were ever really my own.

Just as I am being drawn away, I feel compelled to record my existence on this planet, and to expose myself, the good and the bad — to you, all my offspring, wherever you are, desiring, of this I am certain, to know and perhaps vindicate your own history.

My eyes, though dimmed, have seen all of what humanity has to offer, the best and the worst — the kindness of gentle folk and the brutality of the devil’s own.  I have known good fortune, terrible loss, hardship, and recovery.  Always recovery, for I am a man of strong will and resilience.  I come from good people, as well as I can remember, although I, myself, have not always behaved accordingly.  My greatest regret is my act of desertion, not of my country — no, for that I have no compunction — but the abandonment of my own, not once but twice, lies heavily on my heart.

My youthful quest for new adventure, shadowed later by a driven need to escape my own shameful past, drove me onward still, chasing that elusive ideal called freedom. Ill-conceived actions born out of anguish and fueled by rage set in motion deadly conflict and ruin. The bloody adversity left in my wake haunts me relentlessly, even after all these years.  I fear the consequences of my mistakes will revisit you, my descendants, long after I am gone.

Perhaps old age is affecting my sensibility, leaving me superstitious, irrational, but I implore you, heed this warning: be knowledgeable of the sins of your ancestor, lest history repeat itself.

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Chapter I
A Drummer Boy
1812

Continue reading Choices: Prologue and Chapter 1