My mom grew up in the city of Los Angeles; my dad was a country boy from Pennsylvania. They met somewhere in the middle while attending John Brown University in Arkansas. Both passionate about music and in the music program, I like to picture them singing corny duets while shamelessly flirting in front of a stern, disapproving Music Prof. Pretty unrealistic, but
Apparently, the fastest way to take the boy out of the country is to have him fall for a city girl. Pops must have fallen pretty hard (and who could blame him? my mom’s smart, talented AND hot), because after graduation he hit the ground running straight to her and didn’t much look back.
Far too soon, my dad’s father, Ervin Eldridge, died tragically in a car accident. I was very young. My parents receiving that phone call is my first vivid memory. That memory is a reminder to me that there was a whole lot of love for that man, a whole lot of grieving. If I close my eyes and think on it, I can feel the thick and suffocating confusion, sorrow and pain left in the wake of his passing; I can hear it too in the sobs of my father and my mother. When I choose to go back to that moment, I can see my parents deflated in a way I’ve never seen again. Which brings me to my whole point: I wish I could have known him, Ervin Earl Eldridge. I know I would have loved him. I cannot wait to meet him in the eternal life that happens next. But I’ll tell you a secret; I have a piece of him. I have his books. Well… at least I have some. And I have his boy, one of my greatest treasures.
The books have opened my eyes to the past in a tangible way. Through them I have seen a better way of living, especially the Foxfire books. They made that way of living seem so possible to me. Those books sparked an interest in me that has only grown as time marches on.
And the boy? Well, the boy left the country, but the country clung to him. It hid in his hands and his calm demeanor and it still shows itself when he works with wood, or when he fishes the lake. It’s as evident now in his quiet contemplation as it was when he attempted a garden in the sandy soils of Cerritos, CA. His inner Eagle Scout, his country inner child grew into a resourceful man – a man who I can only guess, is much like his own father. And I’ve got dreams, people… dreams to be more like them.