Grandparents are special people. My two sons were very lucky to have experienced growing up with grandparents on both sides of the family. I can remotely recall my grandfather on my dad's side of the family. He died when I was very small. My mother was raised by her aunt, Ozine Sturgill. "Zine" as we called her was the only real grandmother that I knew. She lived in a small log cabin on top of the mountain in Pound Virginia and we would visit about every other month. It had been almost 20 years since I was there. I remember as a child making the long exhausting trek up "Ozine's Hill" to spend the afternoon with her. The last time I was there the old rooster began crowing as we neared the cabin. The smell of smoke coming from the fireplace. Seeing Zine standing on the porch waving. She always had a warm apple stack cake waiting on top of the old wood burning cook stove. At that time I wondered how anyone could live under those conditions. No running water or indoor plumbing. No phones or cable television. Now, a quarter of a century later, I understand.
Ozine passed away several years ago and her step son Milton who had lived with her since her second husband Scott Tompkins passed away, has also gone to his reward. We were curious if the cabin was still intact. I was going to find out. With the aid of a friend, I packed up one afternoon and drove to Pound to attempt to locate the old homeplace. That area had changed quite a bit in 20 years. A new road, new businesses, new people. After driving around for almost an hour, I suddenly recognized a block building sitting beside Mill Creek Road and knew we were close. "There's a pathway that leads straight up the mountain to the cabin somewhere along in this area", I told my friend. After stopping and asking some friendly neighbors in the area, we located the area where the long hike was to begin. I was out of breath by the time we reached the summit. Weeds and brush had taken over the pathway, but there she stood. Almost as I had remembered it 20 years ago. A little worse for the wear from all those years, but the cabin was still there!
As we opened the front door and entered the homeplace, I could almost smell the firewood burning. It was only a 2 room log home, but to me it seemed like the presidential suite at the Hyatt. The antique brass bed still in front of the fireplace with bed covers on it. Ozine's old cook stove still in the kitchen. On the shelf beside the fireplace were dozens of old antique medicine bottles. A purse lay on the floor in the corner and when I opened it, a flood of emotion came over me as I pulled a pair of her reading glasses from it. I sat there in the floor, quietly remembering what she looked like. Her spirit was still there. It's hard to put into words exactly how I felt at that moment. I walked out on the front porch wiping a tear and looked out over the western skies as the sun was bidding us farewell for the day. I thought about how many times Ozine had brought a cup of steeping hot coffee out on this porch and sat down to watch the day come to a close. Many things change in a person lifetime, but our spirits never die. They live on in memories.