The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

Visit us on FaceBookGenerations of Memories
from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Coming Home

By Deidre M. Thigpen © 1987

Issue: December, 1987

Levi stepped off the train and looked around for a familiar face. He knew it was a silly thing to do since he had just come from New York to Virginia, but still he hoped that there would be one.

Levi had spent most of his life in an orphanage in New York City. His parents had died of influenza while he was a baby. Now suddenly at 14 the social workers had found his mother's family in a little place called Grey's Hollow in Virginia.

The train had let Levi off in Stuart, Virginia where he was supposed to meet his Uncle Cy. When he couldn't find anyone that looked like they were looking for him, he sat down on his suitcase to wait. It wasn't long before a strong hand clasped him on the shoulder and said, "Why, you must be Sarah's boy. You're the spittin' image of her."

Levi looked up and saw a tall, well tanned man in overalls and guessed it to be his uncle.

"Are you my Uncle Cy?" he asked timidly.

The man let out a hearty laugh and hugged the boy. "Yea, I am. Let's get to the house. Your Aunt Flora is fixin' supper for us. I hope you like fried chicken and sweet potato pie."

On the bumpy wagon trip back to Grey's Hollow, Levi told his uncle what little he knew about his parents and his uncle tried to fill in the blank spots for him by answering his questions.

When they reached the house Levi was amazed at all of the animals that his new relatives had. He had never seen a real chicken before and let out across the yard trying to catch one to look at it closer.

Upon hearing all of the commotion out in the yard, Flora and the children, Robert, Mae, and Coy, came out of the house. Everyone had a good laugh at a city boy trying to catch a chicken.

When Levi realized that he was being laughed at, he stopped chasing the chicken and turned beet red. Uncle Cy laughed, "Don't worry boy, we're not laughing at you, we're laughing with you." At this they all went inside to supper.

Levi had never tasted anything as good as the meal his aunt had prepared for them. After they finished eating Levi asked, "Aunt Flora, how did you ever catch that chicken for supper?"

The whole family laughed and Aunt Flora said, "Well Levi, first I let city slickers tire them out then catch 'em."

For the first time in his life, Levi had really felt at home. He prayed that his new family would like him and let him stay with them. The next morning at sunrise Mae came in and woke him up and said that she was going to teach him how to milk the cow. Levi couldn't wait to learn. He almost forgot to put on his trousers before he went out of the room.

Mae was waiting in the barn for him when he got there. She showed him how to gently squeeze the udders to get the milk to come out, then let him try. On Levi's first pull the old milk cow gave a bellar and kicked him into a pile of hay. Mae laughed and that made Levi mad. He resolved to get that cow milked before breakfast if it killed him. On his second try Levi was gentler and the cow didn't kick him. He was the proudest he had ever been when he carried that bucket of milk into the house to his aunt.

By lunch time Levi had learned how to chop wood and mend fences. Though after lunch was over, he was exhausted. Cy and Flora reckoned that he didn't have to try to do anything else for the day and praised him on the work he had done.

When it came time for Aunt Flora to come in from chopping wood to fix dinner she found Levi in the kitchen mixing biscuit dough.

"Land sakes boy. What are you doing?" she asked.

"I just thought that since you've been so nice to me and treated me like family and all that the least I could do was to make supper for you so you wouldn't have to slave over the hot cook stove." Levi said almost in tears. "I thought it might help to persuade you to let me stay on."

Aunt Flora gathered Levi up in her arms and said, "Child, you are as much mine as any I gave birth to. You don't ever need worry over somethin' like that. And I'm looking forward to eatin' one of your fine meals."

After a fine dinner when everyone was sittin' around the fire, Aunt Flora started hanging stockings on the mantel. Levi had forgotten all about Christmas and he was elated to see that Aunt Flora didn't forget to put a stocking up for him.

No matter whether the stocking would be filled or empty in the morning, Levi knew this was going to be the best Christmas ever!