Growing up, Lookout Mountain was my second home and my second place of being. Second only to Marietta. It was definitely a place where I belonged, if only from time to time. It was a place where the land was unspoiled and where the houses were cozy and where it seemed time had stood still.
My grandparents lived there most of their lives. My grandfather and his family left the Pumpkinvine Creek by wagon and moved to Dekalb Co, Alabama. My grandparents lived in a three bedroom house with a pond, a creek (Bear Creek), and woods. I cherish the memories I have of that little house and the warmth it had. ( I mean that quite literally, my grandmother would keep the heat on about 90 degrees!) The rocks behind her house seemed to be as big as houses; the woods seem endless, but I felt like I knew every acre and could name every rock back there, behind her house. I would climb to the top of the rocks and have picnics, or play Indian princess.
Even though I was not raised on Lookout Mt, my dad was, and his stories were my connection to the Mountain and his adventures brought it to life for me. This was the mountain my grandmother was afraid to leave, looking back she was a little neurotic about leaving. I never could figure out why you would live on a mountain, if you were scared to drive off of it?? Well, she really didn't need to leave. She never got sick, thanks to her endless supply of Lysol she kept sprayed and wiped all around her house. She never ran out because next door was the little country store, that kept her supplied with all the necessities, such as Lysol. She always worried about everyone, but I think her greatest worry was that someday she would be left on the mountain without Papa Wills. She ended up leaving the mountain first, by ambulance. She later died of the stroke she had on Lookout Mountain. That was in 1989, and that was the first time a bit of that mountain was taken away from me.
|Mama Wills with Kristi 1986|
|Papa Wills and the pond|
My parents moved back to Lookout Mountain to take care of my grandparents. They bought 20 acres down the road from them and started remodeling an old farmhouse. It was where my dad wanted to be the whole forty years he lived in Marietta.
|Mom and Dad right before they moved back to Alabama|
Yesterday, I passed through the double doors of Wilson Funeral Home, once more. I sat in the same family pew, again. I said good-bye to my daddy's younger brother. I stood at the cemetery and looked at the majestic Lookout Mountain. I saw the beauty that filled my grandparents and my father everyday. I went to the top of the mountain and stood in my uncle's driveway; looking down at my grandmother's house, and the old pond. I took a mental picture. It hit me, that my mountain was gone.
As I drove down the mountain the sun was setting in my rear-view mirror, the most gorgeous sunset with the colors vibrant oranges and reds. The new moon was starting to rise in front of me, so bright, with a wonderful glow.My tears are flowing like the waterfall at the Little River Canyon, as I say good-bye to my mountain, to my father and to the rest of the family and pieces of this beautiful Lookout Mountain.
Addendum to this story:
I have since gone back for more funerals-
One was for my partner in crime and mudpie making cousin; Pam died in 2009. Much too early, at 57. She instigated taking turnips from Papa Wills' garden for our "store and restaurant" and to mix in our mudpies. She also showed me how to go buy bootleg beer, because Ft Payne was a dry county at the time. She showed me how to have a cattail fight. Our best adventure (although scary at the time) was getting stuck in the mud, in the middle of no where off a dirt road, somewhere near the brow, in her Camero. No lie, someone in a horse and buggy saved us. There is a lot more to this story, and it will be saved for the grandchildren, like a Porky Story, that is hard to believe.
Also to be added to my mudpie story, just last year my mom brought me a rolling pin. She said, "Your dad picked this up in Mama Wills' yard, and wanted you to have it. He said it is the one you played with in her back yard." I could have cried at that piece of my mountain coming back to me, and that rolling pin is now displayed in my kitchen. Maybe one day, Kinsley or one of the other granddaughters can make mudpies for me and I can buy them for a dollar.