by Barry Basden
Weltschmerz. That’s what I’m feeling.
I just sold the last piece of the farm where my mother grew up, a remnant of the sandy Texas land where her father farmed watermelons, peas, and other truck crops with mules from 1918 until his death in 1953. He and his sons hauled wagon loads of those crops nine miles to town to sell them for whatever they could get.
That farm was the only place I’ve ever really felt at home in this world. My mother let me spend many childhood summers there while she dealt with a miscarriage, my new baby brother, and tribulations caused by her wayward husband.
My grandmother took me in and loved me unconditionally, spoiling her first grandchild in ways that embarrass me now. All the while she kept her sons and husband who worked the fields, fed with what she grew in a garden, canned, and cooked on a wood stove in a house with no running water—lit only by coal oil lamps until 1947, when LBJ brought electricity to rural Texas. Chickens. Eggs to gather. Pigs to feed. A cow to milk. Hounds. A horse to ride. I loved it and never wanted to return to the city.
I went back to that land a few times after I was grown to visit the ghosts. Now the river where my uncles once caught a massive catfish is dammed up and lost. Summer homes line the lake shore. Storage sheds and a repair shop sit across the road from where the old home place stood. All I knew is long gone.
But in my mind I can still see the well in the side yard where my grandmother drew thousands of buckets of cool, sweet water and where she suffered her fatal cerebral hemorrhage. Worked herself to death, she did.
Everyone who knew this remarkable and loving woman is gone. Everyone but me. My mother loved her until her final breath. As will I.
Weltschmerz. It’s a good word.
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Barry Basden lives in the Texas hill country with his wife and two yellow Labs. He is coauthor of Crack! and Thump: With a Combat Infantry Officer in World War II. His shorter work has been published widely, both online and in print. His latest flash collection is Wince.