I can still see, in my mind’s eye, my Daddy’s strong and weathered hands, tying the twine. First through the hole on one clay brick, taking his time to tie it tight and knot it well. Knowing how long he wanted it to be, he pulled his pocket knife out of his worn jeans pocket and cut it precisely. He then went to work at tying and knotting it through the hole on the second brick.
The bricks were still warm from the rays of the sun.
He put his knife back in his pocket, and stood up to get on with the task at hand.
Daddy worked quietly and efficiently. I enjoyed working alongside him, comforted by his presence and the songs of the birds near by. He made his land a haven for many, birds included. As he walked out to the plot of land he’d decided to garden that spring, his shadow grew long. He was tall enough, but his shadows could stretch for yards that time of day.
Daddy handed me one brick and walked a ways before he set the other brick down at the edge of the plowed ground. Telling me to keep a hold on my brick, he pulled it taut.
And so it began. Daddy used the hoe to make a straight line for a straight row…..of corn, okra, squash, snap beans, peas…..whatever he decided he wanted to plant and whatever else Mama asked him to. After he finished hoeing the straight rows, he handed me the bag of seed and told me how many and how far apart to plant them.
It just depended on what we were planting.
But the rows were always straight. Daddy made sure of that. As long as I followed what he’d mapped out, all was well. I couldn’t go astray.
As it was for so much of my life.
Daddy guided, showed me the way, made suggestions on what and how much and the timing…..and then he let me grow. I’m not saying I never went astray; there were times I did so with flying colors. But with my Daddy there, I always knew where the right path was. It depended on the situation, but he never failed to share his wisdom when I asked. And he always had brick and twine to lay out the right course ahead of me.
The bricks out back are still warm from the rays of the sun.
But my Daddy’s hands are at rest, as is he. The hands that were so strong–the same ones that held me when I was a baby, that toted the bucket of horse feed and me perched in on top of it, that lifted me up onto my horse, that guided my hands in brushing her and putting the bit in her mouth…..the hands that showed me how to do so many things, the hands that played cars with his grands and read books with them, and shelled peas that he’d just finished picking–those hands aged from the sun and hard work, the hands that wrote stories and love letters to his bride and poetry and letters to his children far away…..the hands that built and programmed computers and lifted knifes to slather peanut butter on just about anything it could go on…..those hands are no longer here to tie the twine and lay the bricks and hoe the straight rows to guide the garden…..or me.
Tonight I am thankful for the man who was the brick and twine in my life. As time gets closer and the memories of those last days become more vivid…..again…..I listen to the birds and feel the warmth of the bricks and smell the fragrance of the tea olives he planted…..and I hug the children he loved so much. I know that I have grown to be who I am because of the ground he plowed, the rows he laid, the seeds he planted and the weeds he pulled out of the garden of me. As time continues to take me away from when he was here, I hope that I don’t grow too far away from the rows he planted, taking the time to lay them out. With brick and twine.
The bricks that are still warm from the rays of the sun.
the strength of his hands
still carries me through hard times
and points the way home
the bricks are still warm
the same sun has watched him live
and knows he is gone
the garden, its rows
so straight and obedient
growing the good things