“One day I just woke up and realized that I can’t touch yesterday.
So why the heck was I letting it touch me?” ~ Steve Maraboli
I mentioned earlier this week that being part of the wedding gave me a unique position for photographs. I used that advantage particularly at the end of the ceremony. The last folks to leave the hay field ceremony was Tony’s eldest daughter Jennifer – whom I absolutely adore, her husband Jon – a brilliant photographer, and their nephew, Tony’s eldest grandson and ring bearer, John Anthony. Tony has been an ardent DAV member for forever it seems, so it was touching that the Morgan County DAV Chapter lined the aisle, as it were, for the wedding party exit. Mom brought DAV uniform hats so she and dad could join in. It was a nice way to end a ceremony packed with symbolism. But what I really loved about it was the beauty of Jon and Jennifer walking John Anthony to the shade. Or maybe he was walking them. The unity of family is the most inestimable symbol of all.
“Do not get upset with people or situations. Both are powerless without your reaction.”
~ Buddhist teaching
I rarely capture an image that I love, but this image is one of those rare exceptions. The path leading to the Adam Terry cemetery goes on up the mountain alongside the narrow hollow stream. At first I thought it was an old logging road since all the mountains in Eastern Kentucky, save for the Lilley Cornett Woods, have many times over been logged. And that may still be true, but I realized that the light leading the way through the trail led to an opening. Maps confirm that indeed it does. It opens to an enormous strip mine that has flattened the ridge above Ball Creek and the cemetery.
This part of the Eastern Kentucky landscape has been radically altered by strip mines and highways. When I was a little girl, almost 50 years ago now, the family made a trek to Ball Creek. It was still pristine back then. You could only drive the road up the creek so far before you had to drive in the creek, and then eventually, take a footpath to the head of the hollow where the Terry homestead used to sit. I think that part of the hollow is now Highway 80, filled in, the waterway changed accordingly and shown on the map as Big Branch. (Terry Branch of Ball Creek is closer to Soft Shell, a ways from the cemetery). Bad Ad owned the whole mountain I’m told. His oldest son, my grandfather, would have known all the details, and on this Father’s Day, I wish he was here to ask.
If I’m not mistaken, Adam and Lettie Terry’s graves were relocated when Highway 80 was built, hence their close proximity to it now. As much as I like the faster transportation through the mountains, I hate the thought of how much progress has changed family history. In fact, dad said time and again yesterday how he could have never imagined such a road through the mountains. I’m thankful for the easy travel, but I am especially grateful that I saw the mountains as God made them all those years ago (well, closer to the way God made them than they are now). They are part of me through and through. You can take the girl out of the mountains, but you can never take the mountains out of the girl. Not this girl anyway.
“Where there is great love, there are always wishes.” ~ Willa Cather
I got to spend another Father’s Day with this guy, the best dad I could ever wish for. We grabbed mom and off we went for another Eastern Kentucky adventure. After pigging out on excellent BBQ ribs at Prestonsburg’s Pig in a Poke, we went in search of Adam Terry’s grave. Known to many in Knott and Perry counties as “Bad Ad”, Adam was dad’s grandfather. When he wasn’t farming, or drinking, he made a living protecting moonshiners particularly during prohibition. According to family lore, he had over 20 stills in his care at one time. He killed an estimated 9-15 men. Four revenuers came up Ball Creek (it follows highway 1087/ Vest Talcum Road). They never left and were never found thanks to Bad Ad. They say he was so mean the preacher refused to bury him in the family plot at Ary where his first wife, my biological great-grandmother Elizabeth Jones, is buried. Instead, he was buried on his farm on Ball Creek with his second wife, Lettie Creech. Today, the cemetery sits beside Highway 80 near the Knott/Perry County line (it’s actually in Knott County). Dad and I tried to find it last year, but the trees had grown so much that we drove right past it, and we would have done it again if not for mom’s eagle eye. Some of dad’s cousins are now buried alongside Bad Ad. Even though the cemetery sits just off the road, the trees have provided a decent barrier, making it a quiet, beautiful spot. I love my Father’s Day adventures with dad. Today did not disappoint.
“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” ~ Maya Angelou
Like most Americans, I am descended from a melting pot of immigrants. Take, for example, this line of German ancestors buried at South Fork, Malone, Morgan County, Kentucky. Rebecca (Patrick) and Patrick H. Risner are my great-great grandparents. They raised my grandfather Adams. He was born in Magoffin County, where they also lived (on Puncheon Creek probably). In the early 1900’s, they bought and moved to a farm at Malone very near the cemetery at South Fork. Mom remembers being at their house when she was a little girl. The house is no longer standing, but you could have seen it from the cemetery. I’ve traced Patrick Risner’s line back to Joachim Reissner, born 1620 in Germany. His great-grandson, Hans Michael Reisner, of Gemmingen Germany, came to the U.S. in 1732 aboard the ship Dragon. He landed in Pennsylvania then moved on to Maryland, Virginia, and Tennessee. He died in 1805 presumably in Knox County, Kentucky. It’s suspected that he came to Kentucky because he was moving west to fight Indians after losing all his land and money to supplying Braddock’s failed campaign during the French and Indian War of 1755. Fitting then that one of his grandsons should marry a full-blood Cherokee in Letty “Hatchet Grey” Durham; my 7x great-grandmother. I get a real kick out of genealogy, and this line of ancestors continues to prove interesting.
“Inner peace begins the moment you choose not to allow another person or event to control your emotions.”
~ Pema Chodron
Mom and I went out decorating the family graves today. We went to the Terry Family plot on Stacy Fork where we ran into Francie Lacy and her brother whose name I can’t remember the save my life. Francie was a year or two ahead of me in school, and she went on to work with mom at Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex until mom retired. I’m pretty sure the two of them kept the rest of the staff in stitches because Francie is one of the funniest people I’ve ever known. It was sure fun to catch up with her today. One of the beautiful things about being from a small town is that you can visit with people almost everywhere you go, even the cemetery.
“The sun is daily reminder that we too can rise again from darkness,
that we too can shine our own light.” ~ Unknown
This guy was one of the coolest dudes I’ve ever seen in my life, and I’ve seen some pretty cool dudes in my day. But this is pretty much what we all thought of him. He was hired to escort our buses through town. It was like watching Moses part the Red Sea. He was aggressive, fast, serious; a no BS kind of cop and a mountain of a man. I saw stark terror in the eyes of drivers so shocked at his commands that they froze. That only made it worse (for them). And the people in crosswalks looked like they’d just come face to face with Jesus and he was angry. Mom and I were in the front bus (we had three) and we got to watch him work all day. He had the entire bus cheering at times. We learned that he works the presidential motorcades, which explained a lot. He sometimes gets so pumped that he accidentally takes off side mirrors with his fist. Mom adored him, and the longer the day went on, the more seas he parted, the more she wanted her picture taken with him. He gladly obliged. Someone from the Alumni Association who’d met us at the Lincoln Memorial offered to take my picture with them, too. Have I mentioned what a great day we had?
“If you have only one smile in you give it to the people you love.” ~ Maya Angelou
Without a doubt the highlight of our Shero’s Honor Flight was the Women’s Memorial situated at the entrance of Arlington National Cemetery. One of the key components of the Memorial is to catalogue every woman who has served in the United States armed forces. Mom’s entry was one of the first provided to the memorial by former Morgan County Women’s Club President Jewel Smith, an enormous advocate of veterans and women. Alongside Jewell, our Shero and others did what they could from Morgan County to provide support for the memorial’s creation. So, after years of hard work, it was a sad moment when, a few years ago on a trip to DC, there was not enough time for our Shero to visit the memorial. She was convinced she’d never get to see it. However, I think she would agree that it was worth the wait given the reception she received during yesterday’s visit and lunch at the Women’s Memorial. She was the star of the party.
In case you can’t read the stats of her register entry above, it says PFC Shirley F. (Adams) Terry, born 1942 at Malone, KY; hometown West Liberty, KY; served 1960-1962 in the Women’s Army Corp (WAC) (incidentally, she was assigned to the Signal Corp at Ft. Huachuca, Arizona where she decoded maps for the White Sands Missile Range). She earned the Army Good Conduct and National Defense Service Medals. Of her service she says, “Although my term was during peacetime, for me to have been capable of serving our country was a most memorable experience I will never forget. I shall always honor the memory of my military training and the friends I acquired with great pride.”
To build the Women’s Memorial, The Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation was spearheaded by Brigadier General Wilma Vaught, here meeting our Shero. Brigadier General Vaught, the first female Brigadier General in the U.S. Armed Forces, was on hand at the memorial specifically to meet mom and the one other female vet aboard the honor flight. As you can see, the women clearly share a bond, and I believe if our trip had ended after that moment, mom would have been just as happy. She never expected to meet General Vaught let alone visit with her. It was a brilliant moment that she will never forget, and it made our 25 hour day totally worth it.
“We account for one-sixth of the forces of gravity we see in the universe. There is no known objects accounting for most of the effective gravity in the universe. Something is making stuff move that is not anything we have ever touched.” ~ Neil deGrasse Tyson
Because I was mom’s guardian at yesterday’s Honor Flight and posted photos to Facebook throughout the day, I thought I’d put them all here together to walk us through the day in one view. What an incredible experience!
“The only thing we really have any control over is our own experience.” ~ Traleg Rinpoche
Who better to feature on Mother’s Day than two of the best moms I know. Mom and Martha have been the best of friends for as long as I can remember. Martha raised three great kids, Betina, Hope, and Charlie Jr. They were invaluable to me when I had to get Janet’s belongings out of the house after the tornado. They came to my rescue even though they had to do the same thing for Martha and Charlie Sr. Sometimes family isn’t family by blood but by love alone. Happy Mother’s Day to our real mothers, the mothers we choose, and the mothers who choose us.