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I am lying abed, adrift in that special land between slumber and deep sleep. Outdoor sunlight begins to ratchet up, peeking between blinds, scrawling patterns on the bedroom wall, drawing me gently into wakefulness.

Once alert, the only lingering memory is the fragrance of sun-dried linen, linen that is waving in the breeze from its perch on a countryside clothesline in Cuba, Alabama.

My eyelids rise and I know immediately what the dream of fragrance means. I am standing in memory beside my Aunt Margaret in the back yard of her home in the tiny town of Cuba. She and I are removing freshly dried clothing from the clothesline prior to bringing them in through the back door. It is a ritual I wish I could perform again, but those days are gone. Those days are warm and humid, sunny memories of a time when I could sit and look her in the eye and see faint images of her eldest sister—my late mother, Frances—smiling back at me.

Aunt Margaret is the final direct link to Mother I will ever have. What’s left is kinship, what remains are my brothers and sister, in whose eyes I also see my departed parents.

Aunt Margaret’s husband of 72 years, my Uncle Lamar, died just the other day, and now she is left in the care of her sons and daughter, my cousins, and in the care of that small clotheslined back yard and the small immaculately-kept home next to a beautiful little church where she spends many of her days.

I was born into an enormous family and was lucky enough to spend time with many aunts and uncles scattered about Tuscaloosa and Holt and Peterson and Brookwood and West Blocton and Northport and just about everywhere else as time went by. Each of them left indelible memories, each of them expressed their love of my family in many different ways through the decades.

As I say, I am one lucky man. I am learning to be satisfied with the stories and memories left behind by these kind folk. Aunt Margaret is the final aunt, and I will be visiting with her soon.

Wonder if the clothesline is still standing

© Jim Reed 2017 A.D.

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