I watch her come inching her way up the driveway – I would soon learn that she was eighty-five years old.
At first I guessed she was looking for “The Barn”. Even though it moved some 30 years ago, occasionally some turtle still comes up looking for it.
And there was nothing special about our conversation either, although its one I’m not likely to forget. A fairly insignificant exchange of words – but like most things in life, it’s all in the timing.
I had just returned from the bay with my son Kyle, so reinvigorated on such a spectacularly beautiful Bermuda day.
The water was a little cold (and the tide low) but still we floated out to the mouth in idle conversation, casually observing the bay unfold around us. To the East the mangroves.
“Can they be saved?”
“Who knows, boy.”
And to the West, the pink house in the corner by the beach.
“I’d like to own that house some day.”
“Go for it.”….and on like so.
We gazed back up to Pokey’s dock and over to Lagoon, while I dutifully passed on the verbal history as I had heard it. Uncle Pokey built “Brigadoon”, probably in the 40’s and Jackie-Boy built “Lagoon” in the late 30’s and so on. And my usual boast – my one claim to fame, of having lived in ALL of the Tucker houses at one point or another in my life….and on.
And then we rolled through the goat paddock and back up to the barn to rinse off under the warm water of the outdoor shower. The shower was Danny boy’s idea – I think at one point he had visions of living in the shed and that it might come in handy.
So drying off under the warm sun I’m watching her slowly continue to make her way up the driveway. I’m scanning her face for some sort of acknowledgement, but she’s not biting.
“Looking for something?” I ask politely.
She’s just about in front of “The Cocoonery” at this point and she stops.
“No, I’ve just come up to have a look.” (Wow, she really is just passing through!)
She scans my face – “Are you anything to Jimmy Tucker?” she asks.
I haven’t heard that name come off of anyone’s lips in a long time. Hell, he’s been dead for the last 40 years or more – and besides he wasn’t around that much even before then, so I always was one of “Sir Henry’s wild grandsons” growing up, more so than “one of Jimmy’s boys.”
“Jimmy was my father.” I say.
I sense the tension release from her face. She’s ready now to deliver the message she’s carried up the hill with her like a bag of groceries. She tells me about growing up on the bay. Her home on South Court Avenue and playing with Jimmy down in the mangroves and all across the bay – of them stealing punts and then running all the way home not to get beat up by the fishermen ….and on.
And we talk about the Barn too, back in the day – (I don’t tell her it’s actually been rebuilt.) “Things haven’t changed much up here,” she says looking around.
Her voice lowers. “I’ve been having dreams about this place….of when I was a skinny girl, growing up on the bay… I had to come back.” She looks up at me, doleful.
“Don’t worry baby, I know, we all have to come back.” I say.
“I’ve been having dreams,” she repeats – her voice dropping off.