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Frequency Response - RonLyonsRadio.org  |  General Category  |  Stories from Ron  |  Radio Light « previous next »
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« on: May 02, 2008, 03:55:06 PM »

Winter in Western North Carolina was cold and the
only heat in their house was a coal stove between
the living and dining rooms and a smaller one in
the kitchen. He slept on a single bed and his
younger brother shared the bedroom in a crib. He
woke up most mornings with their black and white
cat staring at him from the foot of the bed. His
mother had named the cat "Patsy Sue". She really
loved that cat.

The boy's most prized possession was an Admiral
radio with a lighted round dial. For a long time,
that light was his beacon in the night and the
radio brought the incredible world of imagination
as the layer of quilts kept him warm. He wasn't
sure what "the war" was but there was a lot of it
with hisses and static flying down to his magic
box. His mother, Nell, was a preacher's daughter
and he had known church all his very young life.
Papaw Grice had 5 children and like many with a
God overdose, 3 of them left town right after
graduation. 2 of them were never heard from again
and one took her liver to the point of no return.

They went to the West Asheville Baptist Church
every Sunday except for his Daddy. Reverend
Starnes said if you didn't accept Jesus as your
Saviour, you would burn in Hell....so he was
worried about his Daddy and talked to his mother
about it. She would look down with those warm
brown eyes and say:"Hush, son, it's not for you
to worry about. Everything is alright".

But it wasn't. Because he know she believed. He
could hear them arguing late at night when his
daddy sometimes stumbled through the door. She
would tell him how the boy worried about him
going to hell. He would loudly reply that the
boy didn't know what he was talking about. There
would be a short silence and eventually you would
hear him snoring and her crying. The boy would
pull the quilts up to his chin but would still
shiver and finally drift off to some far off
baseball game in his ear.

There was a day he would never forget. You could
just feel Spring in the air as he walked outside to
the porch.It was the best part of the house as it
sat above the stairs from one corner to the end with
windows looking inside. His mother was at the yard
end leaning out and yelling: "Patsy S-U-U-U-U".
They always made fun of her because her voice went
way up on the Sue part.

His mother said she had been calling her all
morning and that's when he got the really bad
feeling.  But he told her he would go look for her.
He felt this was something he could really do for
her....and maybe make up for when he tried to put
the cat on top of the stove a couple of years ago.

His name was Ronald and he was 8 years old. He went
down the steps and turned right toward the yard.
There were two poplar trees that were just
beginning to form new buds. But he most loved the
Fall when that whole part of the yard was full of
gold and brown leaves that made him feel like an
explorer when they crunched beneath his feet.

The driveway was there to the right as it came off
County Home Road and there sat their shiny 1938
Buick with running boards and tires mounted in
their cases just behind the front fenders. He wanted
to go sit in it but he was on a special mission. The
yard turned into a small hill on the other side of
the driveway and he even got to do a little sledding
when it snowed but that wasn't very much. At the
bottom were purple dahlias his mother loved and she
had planted yellow jonquils at the top. They were in
full bloom and were so pretty, it seemed to make his
heart ache.

Also at the top was a clothesline strung between 2
pine trees and there was always something special
watching them flip and flop in the wind as they dried.

Ronald kept calling her name as he ventured into the
dark woods by the house. There was this little canyon
where there was an actual grapevine. He would go to
the bottom, get the vine, scurry up the side of the
bank and push off. There was nothing like it as you
held on for dear life...and for those few seconds....
you WERE Tarzan. He rode it to the other side and
dropped off then headed for the small grove still
looking for Patsy Sue. The more he called, the worse
he felt.

He made the circle back down to the white clap board
place they called home and then headed for the very
place he did not want to go and that was County Home
Road. He walked along the other side for a short
distance almost certain of what he would see, And
there she was, a black and white cat with red all
over her. For the first time in his life..and it
would happen again and again at critical points in
his life, every sense of his being was operating at
it's highest.

He could feel the slight breeze down to his toes. He
could count with minute precision each little pebble
and rock flung there by passing traffic. He could
hear buzzing insects and even laughter from somewhere.
The edge of the road where it met the ground looked
like a small cliff. He could smell the earth, the
trees, and he thought...maybe even death.

He had seen death before but that was his grandfather
who seemed to be asleep in the casket. This was a
different thing, This was something that had jumped
in his bed and purred when you petted her. This was
something warm and gentle that used to lay in his
mother's lap as she stroked her. She would meow with
excitement as she trotted toward her food.

Ronald knew this would be something he would always
remember. He did not know it would change him and
would not know it for many years to come.

He was a little scared but he picked up the cold and
torn animal. He had no shovel and did not want to go
and get one so he carried Patsy Sue to the field across
the road where he gently placed her at the bottom of
the sweetest and deepest honeysuckle vines he could
find.

He sat there for awhile still in a heightened state
of awareness.It would be many years later before he
would finally realize he was reacting simply to the
finality of death.

He went back home.

She said: "You were gone a long time. Did you find
her?" "No M'aam" "Well, she'll come back. She always
does. You want a sandwich?" "No M'aam. I'm going to
listen to the radio for awhile. It's almost time for
Tom Mix".

He fell asleep while Tom was telling everybody that
Ralston Shredded Wheat was the best stuff for all
good ranch hands.

He woke up just before supper and it was getting dark,
His mother was out on the porch calling out:
"Patsy S-U-U-U-U-E?"The wonderful smell of frying
chicken hit him as he took a deep breath.
Somehow, on some level, he knew it was better to know.

He opened the door and found the closure.

Email from Ron Lyons
March 18, 2006
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