STONE AND CANVAS©️
Nana Cook and Charlotte Madison
Copyright 2019 offices;
#34 Home Again©
Two and one half months after the burn, it was seeing the road sign Welcome to Arizona that filled me with the first surge of channel fever. My mother had accompanied me on the drive south as far as Barstow, California. By then she knew I could do the last lap on my own. I had been recharged by my family and found myself filled with anticipation and excitement to be home.
A few hundred miles and I was watching for off ramp #123 that would lead me back onto Old Route 66, G.B., home and my life in Ash Fork.
Seven miles west of town I saw G.B. in his little old short bed Ford pick up, waving wildly from the I-40 westbound lane. I pulled over and still bandaged, I stood by the car and watched him disregard all traffic, screech to a stop, illegally bounce across the median, tear along my side of the freeway, skid to a stop, jump out then run toward me calling “Oh Charle, my Charle.” He grabbed me, locked me close and kissed me, “I missed y’all so durn much Charle, I love y’all Baby.”
“I’m home G.B. I love you.”
So later that evening he was a “teensy” bit miffed to discover that I was going to sleep in one of the guest rooms. I still needed a dark uninterrupted sleep, with my legs and feet safe from being kicked.
At eleven P.M. after the T.V. news we headed for bed, he followed me to the guest room and he was not at all amused when I held up my hand and asserted with laughter “BACK G.B.! BACK!”
At twelve thirty I was dredged out of my sleep. “CHARLE! GET UP CHARLE, THER’S A FIRE! And sure enough the siren was wailing calling volunteers out of their beds.
“Oh don’t leave me G.B. the town might burn down!”
“I ain’t leavin’ y’all, I’m here to getcha.”
Oh just what I needed, a fire . . . .
“How y’all a-gonna get over this, if yall hide away. I gotta see if one a my houses is a-burnin’ — com’ on.
”The next day he took me for a lovely drive deep into the hills where he could show me — an out of control forest fire. He ended up scarring not only me, but for one moment — himself.
My customary method for healing my thoughts is, once purged, deliberately forget, and do not wallow in the thing I fear. But the persistent memory of the explosion, temporary poor balance and hearing, the inconvenience and discomfort of the burns and a lessening limp, all made it difficult to forget. Plus one other peculiarity I had to contend with that classified me certifiably insane in G.B.’s mind.
Intermittently, maybe ten to twenty times each day, I still smelt smoke that was not there. I needed people to reassure me then scoff at me in jest, or, tell me what was burning because that smell immediately put me on the razor’s edge of panic.
Each time my mind touched on the memory of the explosion, I was forced to relive it all. It was like a rattlesnake determinedly and slowly passing ear to ear through my thoughts, over and over all through the day and wakeful hours of the night.
It wasn’t long until I discovered how I was going to heal my thoughts. I would continue to speak freely to people about the explosion and the burns until neither I nor they could stand one more telling, then with unaccustomed determination and self control, I began to fight back.
With uncharacteristic perseverance, I learned to struggle with the insidious memory, until I could nip off the last bit of that snake’s rattle and determinedly think of something positive. With time and great relief, I whacked with my mental machete and chopped thin slices off the end of the rattlesnake, shortening the duration of each long hypnotic memory with each cut, until at last I could say of it all, “NO! I will not think of that.”
Amazinglly the thing which would hep G.B. heal, was the art ehibit. I had lost four months but I decided ass soon as possible, I would go ahead with it. Painting was much more inviting than work and before G.B. could entrap me or lure me back to work, i had a few things to prove.