Some 15 years ago, I began writing sporadic columns for The Times. All English majors are thought to harbor dreams of being a writer. I am no different. Yet with the birth of our youngest child, I had an even greater compulsion to write. The Great American Novel did not materialize on my computer. What I began to write about was life, especially motherhood in its various stages.
I have not written much in the past few years. Teaching middle school takes up much time and energy. After my husband's near-fatal wreck two years ago, I divided my life into two parts: caring for my family at home and caring for my "children" at school. Creativity outside of the classroom lay dormant and unnecessary. Besides, my youngest is now 16, our adventures together long concluded.
Twelve years ago, I returned to teaching after almost five years home with William. I mourned the loss of what I called adventures. I recalled a day spent watching the Maysville Bank being lowered into place by a very high crane, as well as our daily walks in the summer to the Maysville Library, always welcomed by Miss Sue Mealor.
With Miss Sue's passing, I can finally confess. While she thought I was the best mother in the world for reading with William every afternoon in the library, I am afraid my motives were quite selfish. At that time, we did not have central air conditioning at home. The library did.
Perhaps our best adventure was visiting the old Banks County Courthouse, and then walking over to the old jail. Downstairs is the EMT station, but upstairs the old jail cells remain untouched. There is even a trap door and pulley where hangings were said to occur. Looking at the old bar cages, William and I both got the creeps and hurried back out into the sunshine.
There was a time when I believed these to be the happiest days of my life. Luckily, each chapter has its joys and blessings. But I thought these Maysville adventures with William to be a completed, long-ago chapter of my life.
Yesterday, I received a gift. Our oldest son bought a beautiful old house in Downtown Maysville. Older than our own 1904 home place, this house offers more than beauty and history. It has bats. William and I intended to cut grass and work in the yard. We were sidetracked.
At first I thought the object on the floor to be a toy or small gumball machine prize. The size of a half dollar, this small creature lay curled into a figure rather resembling something out of "Lord of the Rings." As I went through the house, I found more and more of these strange gremlins. William and I discussed how they came to be scattered throughout the house as I swept them into a dust pan. Two of them squeaked. This was not a mouse squeak, but a bat sonar squeak.
What were we to do? We had discovered two adult bats, also dead. A year ago I bottle fed a now-spoiled kitten after his mother abandoned him. Bats are not kittens.
I poured some of William's PowerAde into the dust pan. Bats apparently like PowerAde. Not only did they revive, they became quite active.
Now, the William of old would have deferred to my wisdom. Not so the William of 16. He called his father to get phone numbers of first the Humane Society and then the Department of Natural Resources. After a 30 minute conversation with a very kind DNR employee, we sought to relocate the three baby bats (yes, we continued to look and found more).
Evidently bats like white oak trees. Evidently William can tell which tree is a white oak. We placed the bats on the bark (still using the dustpan) and watched as they instinctively climbed and settled on the bark, hanging upside down as bats are wont to do.
For just a moment, I was transported back to an earlier time, an easier time. A time when there were no discussions of Facebook, cell phones, girlfriends or AP exams. It was a time of waking to see what unfolded with each new day. This day, I told William we had experienced our first adventure with the new house.
A voice from behind the great white oak seemed suddenly less deep and more filled with wonder. "Momma, does every house have adventures?" Yes, I replied, if you are lucky.
"Momma, does every house have animals?" Yes, baby, especially in the country.
What a magical day, a day to go back one more time and experience the joy of being open to whatever was revealed to us. A simpler day. A day when just the two of us shared the wonder of the small victory of preserving three tiny lives.
On our journey back to Gainesville, William practiced driving. Neither of us has been in a hurry for that change. It was his first time to drive other than in our back pasture. It was indeed yet another adventure. I am thankful for them all.
Renee Hand Morris is a Hall County resident and eighth-grade teacher at Gainesville Middle School. Her column appears occasionally and on gainesvilletimes.com.