Ensconced at the northwest corner of North Carolina and much like an overexposed backbone, there lays the Blue Ridge Mountains …
There are quasi mystical stories which have been handed down many generations in these(those?) parts. They are all about the people and the harsh but beautiful environment in which they lived and the way this lifestyle has shaped untold generations of hardy mountain men and women.
On the one side there is the Tennessee land… the land of music and good ol’ Tennessee Bourbon Whiskey… Mr. J. Daniels’ legacy, I believe… On this side is North Carolina with the city of Asheville sitting at the junction corner, much like a guardian of the ways into this general domain… Then, to the north(East) of this corner, lays the sprawl which is West Virginia. This particular area is one of the last bastions, in many ways, of what life was for the mountain families of yore. Full of simplicity and hard work… all wrapped in a heavy shawl of spiritual beliefs. The natural scenery provided by the Blue Ridge Mountains is a beautiful frame within which this part of the world can be seen… and truly enjoyed.
However, all of the above is not what this entry is about. I just happen to really enjoy the beauty of these mountains and of this particular area. But these ramblings are not about those great and colorful people but about what it is I have seen in this part of the country, what it has meant to me and why. Perhaps too much information, more than what you may want to find out… but then, what is a personal blog if not … well … personal.
|Grandfather Mountain, Asheville.|
Late in 2007, as mentioned already in one or more of these entries (after a while it becomes difficult to keep track of all of them) I was given the eye popping news that my body was hosting a number of unwanted visitors in the form of viruses and things strange, which gave life to a cancer in my prostate. As a man then in my early 60’s, it was well within my knowledge and understanding that I was open to many possible illnesses and maladies which had never really crossed my path before. Including this one but since the sum total number of days I had spent in a hospital along the prior 60 years, probably did not go above 20, these possibilities did not cross my mind as probabilities.
After I was told, I went into a deep personal funk… and this lasted for some time. Yet, in all of this, it never crossed my mind that there was a possibility that I would die. That concept simply didn’t exist for me. Yes, I know we all will at some point or another but, in truth, I hope my point of eternal entry –so to speak- is yet somewhat removed. Too many things yet to do and all that… My personal life had also suffered a setback and I was not happy at all with the goings on… In the end, it was my brother who came to my rescue, inviting me to come to these parts and share a home with his family.
I have to digress for a moment… I am not a good family man, in the biblical and traditional sense. The chance to experience this kind of people union as a growing young man simply wasn't there… Yes, I do love my children with all my heart and suffer because my communication with the two younger ladies has been restricted due to a disagreement (hmmm… is a divorce considered a disagreement?) between their parents. So, when it came time to share a home with two adults and three plus one children (the son of a good friend of my brother was already there, being sheltered as well by these two good people) it was a major adjustment for me. It was interesting to experience, from the outside, the kinetics of a marriage which has issues but where both people work at them, each giving in a little bit to meet somewhere around the midsection which, in my brother’s case, is a good sized territory.
Eventually, my wife decided to come up and join me in these parts. I think being sick of life in Miami then was a more defining issue in her coming here, than the need of my company. I understood, my own life in Miami had become a burden difficult to bear... Not the fault of Miami itself, although this has become a sprawling, crazy like environment. The true fault rested on not well thought out decisions made along the way (along with non-decisions) which created a very difficult setting in which to go on.
|Carolinas Med Center... "home away from home in 2009"|
There had been an elusive quest for peace… be it of life or of mind, as it were, and it was found in these parts. Or at least the promise of it. Of course, the cancer shadow was hanging over my bedposts as I tried to fall asleep every night but I knew this would be conquered, as it eventually was. I became a very grateful example for cancer awareness… with my own inner phosphorescent glow included… (only kidding… I think…) My hip, which had reduced me to a very painful limping, leg dragging half gait, was also corrected through surgery. Since there were two other minor surgeries to go along with the preceding issues, I considered that -a good aging wine comes to mind- 2009 was a very good year.
While still convalescing from all the “friendly” attacks it had received, my body was on its way to redemption. As can be had after 65 years of taking a beating…
My mind… well, this is a story all of its own…
I am going to play coy and simply say… “to be continued”…
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