{Thanks to my good friend, Charlotte, for a much needed prod...I'm sorry, its sorta been a hard holiday, I'm moving slow.}

If irony colors the life of a town, then Foster’s ‘common’ room was a rainbow. It wasn’t so much that Onceuponatime had been sheltered from the aged as they’d been sheltered from him. True, there were some older people in his grandfather’s congregation, like Tuck Jackson, the janitor. But Tuck could scramble up a ladder and change a lightbulb before you could blink. Onceuponatime saw no one in the room he thought might even be remotely interested in scrambling; in fact, they were all seated - some in straightback chairs, some in wheelchairs, and a handful in what looked like the chaise lounges at the town pool. Rev. Walton kept his grandson close as they made their way to the center of the room. ‘Good morning, everyone. I’m tickled to have my grandson with me today. This is Onceuponatime.’ Several voices chirped ‘hello’ alongside tired smiles and crooked waves. Eva Simpson rolled her wheelchair right up to them and extended a hand. ‘Hello, Onceuponatime. I’m Eva. I play the piano but I don’t use the bench. You may sit there if you would like.’

Onceuponatime sat and swung his legs as his grandfather spoke loud and true. ‘Most folks have already put Christmas away until next year. That makes me sad. I’m so glad to see you all are still celebrating. Help me sing, alright?’ Those last four words were a well-worn cue for Eva. She started in with a medley of familiar Christmas carols like ‘Hark the Herald’, ‘Joy to the World’, and ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful.’ And right before a little boy's eyes, the old become young again. Those who could sing, sang. Some, like Paul Jordan, simply tapped feet, while a few, like Bessie Long, clapped quiet hands. Lydia Wilson hugged her American Girl doll and rocked back and forth, a metronome Madonna. Chet Waller just sat and smiled and cried.

Other ministers in town kept to podiums or pulpits, but not Davis Walton. His custom was to walk among the people and preach his sermons, never consulting notes and seldom reading directly from the Bible as he memorized his text. His was a confessional approach, calling folks by their first names, asking them questions, patting a back, shaking a hand. It’s often told of the Sunday he offered to take a crying baby from a young mother, as they say, ‘at wit’s end.’ The child gradually stilled and fell asleep. Rev. Walton continued the entire service with child in arms. The church received a record offering that morning. Jess McCandles said ‘broke the mold after Walton.’ When it seemed right, the singing stilled that Friday morning and Onceuponatime watched his grandfather begin to walk among the beautifully uncommon lives of the Foster Retirement Center. He strode directly to Chet Waller, touched the man’s shoulder and said ‘Memory is a kind of homesickness isn’t it, Chet?’


  1. that baby scene. now that's a pastor.

  2. Mercy...I miss the pulpit. Blessings.

  3. Virginia10:26 AM

    Sure glad you're back on this.