It took two full years working faithfully day after day to finish that cabin. Dad’s need for that peaceful fatigue must have been a great factor in his drive and zest. He was not only builder, but was managing a truck terminal, and raising and working a garden, too. There was never a day for two years that Mom and Dad didn’t work on the cabin. Often times they worked until early morning, then got up and started over again.
When Dad took his vacation from ABF, we spent every day and night on that hillside chipping and picking up stone. Our campsite looked like gypsies had moved in. I don’t think in those two weeks Dad ever thought about going into town. He was perfectly content to stay on that hillside. I can still picture him trudging through the weeds with a towel over his arm and a bar of soap headed for his evening bath. He must have recalled many creek baths from his childhood while he soaked. Mom, Nancy and I used the excuse of needing a bath as a means for escape into civilization periodically. Once the foundation was laid the rest went quickly. After picking, shoveling and concrete, it was easy. It seemed like no time before we were sleeping in our own cabin by the lake.
The last piece of construction was the fireplace. My Dad always amazed me by his God given talents, but he really outdid himself when he built the fireplace. With each piece of foundation Dad had a legend to go along with it. The fireplace was no exception. One stone was from the Court House in Greenwood. He had retrieved the stone from the site after the tornado in 1968, had completely destroyed the huge stone building. Dad had so many good memories about his hometown, Greenwood. Maybe in his mind and heart this was a small piece of his hometown, right there on Beaver Lake. Above the mantle, Dad made two rocks stick straight out. They had looked like a bad mistake in construction. But when the fireplace was finished, the two rocks held perfectly an old oxen yoke, his grandfather, John Wright, had made. Another stone was given to him by an old childhood friend, Bennie Rausch. Bennie had found this stone in his field. It looked like an Indian grinding stone. Dad had lots of stories about that stone. He convinced everyone that Mom’s grandmother carried that very stone on her back down the “Trail of Tears” just to grind her corn in. All those stones, so skillfully stacked, not merely formed a fireplace for heat, but gave the cabin the warmth of a country home.
I can see Dad sitting outside the cabin in the evening, just waiting to hear the sound of the whippoorwill. Dad loved that sound. Whippoorwills seemed to patronize that area in the night. He used to sit for hours just listening for them to sing out. On the other hand, I would toss rocks toward that loud sound “whippoorwill” in the night when everyone was asleep. I swear it was as loud as if sitting on my pillow. I just couldn’t sleep with that noise. It is strange now that that same sound, so irritating then, can be such a comfort now. There has been so many instances in my life and Dad’s where the voice of the whippoorwill must have been God’s own message. In 1972, by the grace of God, my brother came home in one piece.
The cabin had served its purpose. For the next seventeen years, the whole family enjoyed many weekends, barbecues, and holidays together in that cabin on the hill. “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From whence does my help come?.” Psalms 121:1
I think this is such a beautiful story. It makes my brother sound like a slave driver which he was not. Whatever he undertook his family was there all the way. The girls could have had gloves but their Dad didn’t wear them so they didn’t either. I enjoyed our day at the cabin with the cousins. I felt the presence of both Mama and Pat there with us, as we were sitting out on the native stone patio.