In the yard, garden and barn yard are all the tools of a life in full throttle. A couple of tractors waiting to be repaired, a mud-spattered four wheeler, a pickup truck piled high with the debris of farm life, a tiller, a garden with the remnants of winter vegetables, and all of them awaiting the hand to put them to use.
The pasture is dotted with a few mules, a few horses, a couple of ponies for the grandchildren to ride, and a herd of cattle with their spring calves nuzzling at mama’s udders. Four dogs are doing what farm dogs do - chasing rabbits, eating the table scraps and howling at the coyotes who keep the night air lively with their awful eerie cries.
There are ponds full of fish - white perch, bream, catfish, turtles, snakes and frogs so loud at sunset that you have to shout over them. Even crayfish ponds, lately turned into holding tanks for fracking water are waiting.
In the barn is a life-sized version of a covered wagon, a hold over from the time of the mule-raising adventure. It sits, and so does the bright blue antique Model T.
On the carport is the smoker for making fresh game delectable, a huge grill for cooking at the big family reunions and church suppers. The hard-working fish fryer is ready for the next big gathering of hungry friends and family.
In the house are the wife of 62 years, the three children who now are grandparents themselves, those grandchildren and many “greats.” Everybody is mourning the loss of the man whose hands activated all those waiting tools and whose hands fed the animals, fished the ponds and made the gallons of gumbo to be shared with all of us.
Hearts are broken because those hands are stilled by the very waters in which he loved to fish. The fisherman is gone, and so are his tales; the hunter is gone, and so are the times spent in the deer stands with his grandson.
C. B. Leatherwood Jr.’s life is over, but what a legacy he left for those of us who loved him. The stories will be told and retold as they were at his funeral where the pickup trucks lined the country road as far as the eye could see, as the whole parish turned out to say good bye to one of its favorite “good ole boys.” The people, the never-ending offerings of food, flowers and tears made for a party C. B. himself would have loved.
Good bye, Uncle C. B., and thanks for the memories.
These are reflections on the loss of my uncle, who drowned in our fishing lake in Louisiana, at age 79 years, 358 days. He was one of a kind.
Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him (Psalm 128:1).