I think about the lyrics of a song by Edwin McCain. It’s titled, See Off This Mountain. It’s from the album Messenger 1999:
She’s a Blue Ridge cradleShe’s a mother to someAnd home to the laughterOf road weary onesSo we’ll sing all the old songsSing to grandmama roadAnd we’ll sing cause we miss herAnd we’re sad she had to goIf I could see off this mountainThrough the clouds in my eyesI would see off this mountainOn the nights stars fellAnd see off this mountainThrough the tears in my eyesI would see off this mountainAnd the stars fell from the skiesIn the air I hear a fiddleDown along Hickory WayAnd the mandolin guitarLike we used to playAnd down on Dunn’s rockBrothers boasting a dareWe tell them they’re crazyAnd pretend we don’t careIf I could see off this mountainThrough the clouds in my eyesI would see off this mountainOn the nights stars fellAnd see off this mountainThrough the tears in my eyesI would see off this mountainAnd the stars fell from the skiesThe air tastes like moonshineIn the wind a carnival tuneIt soars with our laughterBut we’ll all leave too soonSo I raise a toast to familyPut thanks in my glassIn the arms of your loved onesIt’s the only home that lastsIf I could see off this mountainThrough the clouds in my eyesI would see off this mountainOn the night the stars fellAnd see off this mountainThrough the tears in my eyesI could see off this mountainWhen the stars fell from the skiesWhen the stars fell from the skiesGoing up to grandmama roadGoing up to grandmama roadI’m happy as can be‘Cause can’t you seeI’m going up to grandmama road
From the moment I first heard this song, I was affected profoundly. For I was going through a huge change of becoming a man and realizing what it was all for; without a clear and conscious path. I was existing and trying to find answers. I had very little guidance. What guidance I had, I didn’t believe in. I had very little confidence in it. I discovered people have their own paths to follow. But I didn’t know what was best for me. And because I didn’t know, I let others try to decide for me. My integrity was at a loss.
I think about this time, and I reflect on the elements of a happy life. I reflect on get-togethers and having a wonderful time. But those times were changing. And they were changing fast. I had hard time keeping up. And also not getting ahead of myself. I had a hard time without money and resources. I had a hard time with time management. But really though, I had a hard time processing the change. It was too much all at once.
From these lyrics, I see a pathway to my Grandma Marjorie’s house. She lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Near Mineral Bluff, Georgia to be as precise as possible. I remember taking trips up there with family and sometimes friends around the 4th of July. That was also her birthday. I remember going up there and everyone doing their catching up on life, talking about their personal problems and stuff. I remember the likes and dislikes of each member crossing the mouths of each other as they would tell their stories of how they recalled, “that one time”. The smell of half a pig, smoking day and night the day before the day. Some people brought their own beer and food. Others would bring their cigarettes and little bratty ass kids. My grandma kept quite a few dogs that seemed to be strays at one time. They would wait outside for scraps. All but one, Missy. Every chihuahua she kept was named Missy. And all of them were mean as hell. Except with her.
On her day, we would eat real good: pork, potato salad, beans, cornbread, corn on the cob and maybe a few different casseroles the ladies would bring with them. I would bring my guitar and maybe a few others would too. It just depended on the year and who all came out.
Every year, I would see my cousin Betty Agnes and her bunch. And truthfully, I have to hand it to her, she had the best sense of family than anyone I have ever met. And often times, it was hard for everyone to show up. The lot of us were uncompromising with how some would get into trouble and just couldn’t make it out. It was hard living up to that standard, especially when so many of us weren’t doing too well. Little did I know about responsibilities back then.
All I thought about was getting together and having a good time. Trying to be happy. So much time had past over the years and everyone seemed to drift apart. And then my granny died. Time after time of going up there and going tubing down the river or to the beach on Morganton Point,
That is about all I wanted to remember. I didn’t want to remember the gossip. I didn’t want to remember the struggles. I just wanted to remember Natures Beauty and enjoy it with everyone. I wanted to remember the smiles on their faces. I wanted to remember the pranks we would play on each other as kids. I wanted to think back on “that one time” and laugh… or just smile.
But that’s not what I remember. I remember the absence of the people I love and loved. I remember their passings. I remember their struggles. I remember how fucked up they were. I remember the gossip. I remember why other people didn’t like them… and somehow, I let that affect my association with them. And I think, THAT is ultimately how we drifted apart as a family.
And I go back to this song, thinking about if there ever will be a day that we can make new memories title “remember that one time?”.