I was born in the old Baird Brewer hospital that sits directly across from the big Methodist church in the middle of town. Mama said she was in twilight sleep and doesn't remember much about the whole thing. It was nighttime and she was tired. The really odd thing is that my childhood was waiting for me in that very same building.A couple of years later a new hospital was built on the other side of town and my PaPa died of heart failure. Gaga set up shop in the historic building to manage his real estate holdings right next to the doctors who kept their office space there. Dr. Conyers was the ear nose and throat guy who gagged me with merthiolate when I had a red goozle. Dr. Banks, the surgeon, had his office there as well. Since Mama and Daddy both worked, I spent a lot of summers and days out of school in the place playin' with supervision. Daddy's USDA office was in the basement. Turns out that he became the manager of the farmplace we call home when PaPa died. What a blessing that has been.
Herman was the elevator man at the Baird Brewer building. I reckon he was about seventy or so when he first opened the metal gate to that ancient elevator and took me for a ride to the other floors. That hair of his was white as snow framing a kind black face that loved me in spite of the fact that I was a privileged white girl. After vacation bible school or on a whim, I would come over to the office and explore what used to be the hospital. Herman had a wooden stool in the elevator, but he rarely sat on it. There was a big old wooden knob that he operated to take us up or down the guts of the building...always smiling that he had company for the ride. "Yes'm" he would say. "Step right in here Miss Janie." I explored every inch of that place in between playing office with my grandma.
Nurse Hathaway worked there and she was my Gaga's good friend. She wore starched white uniforms and her head was crowned with braids that grew gray with age. Miss Jack was a nurse too. Those gals had some mighty good times together. Gaga took to traveling and visited across the pond many times. She always told me that when I graduated from high school we would go to Europe together. As fate would have it, the money was all gone by then so I went to college in Memphis instead. I'm almost a nurse.
Back when I was a kid me and Daddy talked about heaven and hell and all that stuff. He told me that his humble opinion was that it's what you make of it right here on earth. The older I get, the more I see that great truth in sunsets and sunrises and the heat of summer or the chill of winter snows. It's all about the journey.