July, 2012

Wow, I’m finally on the plane; a miracle. Just yesterday I was in a four car collision. When I saw the black Beetle bounce toward the hood of my car,  I thought, I’m spending my vacation in the hospital. When I looked to my left and saw the SUV aiming out of control at my car door, I thought I may not be here to be in the hospital.

I missed that hair and nail appointment.

I wanted to look polished while in London, England. I wanted to look forward to my birthday and was not sure how I would accept becoming fifty. So, I decided to leave the country when April 3rd rolled around.

“Too busy,” was my excuse for avoiding parties with family and friends, “lots of packing to do. Gotta get my passport.” I wanted to be in London no later than April 3rd.

I met with every roadblock imaginable, one delay after another, and the trip kept getting pushed up. But here I sit next to my son, James, on my way to see the sites of London and take in a few plays.

After checking into the Lime Tree Bed and Breakfast, we took a quick walk up the street to Westminster Abbey. So anxious to see the burial sites of Elizabeth I and her cousin, my favorite heroine, Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland. I was astonished when I overheard a priest doubling as a tour guide, brag about how Edward I was known as Edward Longshanks Killer of the Scots.

“ The greatest Scots killer that ever lived! He hammered the Scots to death! My dear, wouldn’t you like to see the grave of the famous Longshanks, Edward the…”

“No thank you,” I snapped back. Imagine the nerve of that guy, and wearing a collar of the priesthood.

James pulled me away and whispered, “I’m sure the Scots have something to say about the Brits on their tours.” James chuckled and said, “This is tourism Mom!”

That priest and the jet lag were getting to me. We stepped out for some air. There we were met by another priest in an open corridor offering hot tea. Looked like a priest, sounded like a priest and acted like a priest.

“Well thank you Father, thank you so much. I will have a cup if you don’t mind.”

James anxious to move on wanted to go his own way. “Mom, you stay here and rest awhile, I’ll come back and catch up with you here.” James smiled mischievously as he teased me, “Now Mom you are staying here? You’re not gonna circle back and straighten that Longshanks priest out are you?”

I promised James to stay put and behave. The kind priest nodded in agreement.

So James and I parted ways and I thoroughly enjoyed my nice cup of hot tea in an outer hallway of the Abbey. I found an uncomfortable bench and looked out through the open arches and watched the rain drizzle onto the lawn on the Large Cloister.

I’ve been trying to get here for so long, not just weeks but years. My nephew, Bubba, was our family traveler. He regularly flew to London, Paris, Boston, New York and the Bahamas. But it was London that he spoke of most often.

Robert Lowry Logan III

“Aunt Di, you and mother must see London. Whole regiments march through Harrods playing bagpipes at Christmas time. If you think you love the Highland Fling at Stone Mountain Park, wait until you hear the bagpipes at Harrods.  And the museums and plays are the best in the world. You can’t imagine how beautiful the palaces and castles are.  Pictures don’t do them justice! The school children wear snappy uniforms and flags are flown everywhere. I want you to go with me sometime. Promise me you will go to London with me! You and Mother must come!”

“I’m here Bubba, I’m here. Mother wanted to come but she couldn’t.”

Fatigue gave way to sadness as I remembered the days long gone in Tucker, Georgia. I thought of Bubba and how we celebrated our April birthdays together along with my younger sister, Barbara. My older sister, Patricia, would have us over to her house on Woodcreek Court in Tucker. It was always a surprise, and of course, we all played along.

I could see it now. I walked around to Patricia’s back porch about sundown and could see nothing but the blaze of candles. Not just one cake with a few candles, but three cakes, one for each of us, and a candle lit for every single year of life. At first glance, it looked like the house was on fire, and then came the singing and laughter. Then the drama of the children falling to the floor gasping for breath as the smoke rose to the ceiling. And even more laughter.

Young Robert Lowry Logan III

That was before Bubba left us. At the young age of twenty-six, Bubba went to Heaven. It was a sad day and without him, we stopped laughing.

Our birthdays were never the same. And it was too hard for his mother, Patricia, to carry on the spring birthday tradition.

That’s the real reason I was hot to get out of town. How could I celebrate such an important day without Bubba? So I flew all the way over here – Bubba’s favorite place. The place we were supposed to visit together.

The rain came down harder and the wind blew me back inside the Abbey seeking shelter. I roamed around looking for James. As I strolled about and admired all the marble work, it occurred to me that England does not want to bury their dead. Rather they place the remains in crypts with lifelike images of the deceased made of stone on top. Every date and critical moment of life is carefully recorded near the site. Famous authors, scientists, musicians, kings, queens and military men and women. If they were somebody in the Kingdom of Great Britain, they were here.

I found myself in a very large room. People from all over the world could be spotted here, all reverent and spoke in hushed whispers.

A long line formed up ahead and I slowed down to see if I wanted to get in there with them. I did not see or hear of any priests swearing out the Scots, so I got in that line. Must be something special; I smelled incense burning. The closer I got, the quieter the crowd became. I waited in anticipation. Who could it be? As the line veered slightly to the right and around a corner,  I saw a huge rack of candles, most lit and some not. The people would take a candle and light it and then drop coins in an offering can.

I managed out a few pounds from my pocket and got them ready to drop. I had a few more minutes to think and I decided to light a candle for my family and thank God for allowing me to finally make it to London. When it was my turn to light a candle, I closed my eyes and said a little prayer. As I opened my eyes for just a moment, I was in another place and time.

I was no longer at the Abbey, but at my sister’s back porch on Woodcreek Court in Tucker, Georgia. I was looking at the huge blaze of fire on the three April birthday cakes. And though I was over four thousand miles from home, I was celebrating my fiftieth birthday with my family.

As I gazed at the candles beyond the smoke rise of the incense, I could almost see my nephew smiling back at me.

About that time, someone’s conversation intruded into my thoughts.

“What’s the date please?” I overheard a man ask with a thick British accent.

“April 13th,” another man replied.

Of course it is, April 13th. Happy birthday Bubba!

All Roads Lead to Stone Mountain Georgia is dedicated to my dear nephew, Robert Lowry Logan III – our “Bubba.”

All Roads Lead to Stone Mountain Georgia  © 2012 by H. D. Story All Rights Reserved