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hill-country-sunsetBy Helen K. Lowery

Eagle Mountain Circle. My family moved to this home outside of Fort Worth, Texas when I was almost three years old. I have no memory of any other home. My Dad and his friend Gene built the two bedroom, one bath on a little over an acre after Gene bought the property for himself and my Mom and Dad. My parents and Gene had been good friends since they were children. After my parents married in 1939, and Daddy and Gene returned from the Navy in 1945, there were some tough times for my Mom. Daddy and Gene must have spent every day for a year playing sand lot football and baseball and drinking themselves into drunken oblivion every night that year. I am not really certain who saved whom, but I know my Mother was a force with whom to reckon. I think she brought my Dad back from the dark side and he dragged Gene back by the coat tails. In repayment, the year of my birth, 1949, Gene bought approximately three acres and gave my parents a little over an acre of it on which to build their home in gratitude to my parents for saving his life.

It seems important to be writing about my childhood home because sometime in the future I will be considering along with my two elder sisters whether to sell or keep the house after our Mother dies. As with many 86 year old mothers, she is telling me what she wants to have happen, and of course we are considering all of her desires. If it were up to my Mom and Dad, they would make it an altar to their life and love.

As it seems with many children born in the early 20th century, life seemed hard in ways very different from ours. My mother was the seventh of eight children and my Dad was the child of an absent alcoholic father. Not long before my Dad died in 2004, he was lying in his hospital bed reflecting on his and mother’s life together. He asked me, ”Do you know the first time I saw your Mother?”

I said ”No because I loved all of my Daddy’s stories and especially his soft melodic voice. He was a colorful visual story teller. He tilted his head up to look for the memory. ”The first time I saw your Mother was over by her house on the Northside. Her mom had asked her to go to the store. She was only twelve but she was driving a Model T. She was under five foot so she had to put a block of ice on the accelerator in order to get the car to go,” he remembered, his eyes twinkling.

Whether in memory or reality he always smiled when he saw my mother, and she always smiled at him. These two were a great love affair. They married when my Mom was sixteen and my Dad was nineteen. I was always proud of my parents. My dad was an ironworker and my mother a homemaker. They seemed to exist for each other and for us. I have wondered many times why I became a counselor since I had what appeared to be a very happy childhood home.

Christmas was especially wonderful. My parents went overboard, especially after we started having children. My dad got a special thrill out of just letting the kids tear into their presents, and he didn’t want anyone to pick up the wrapping paper or any of the trash. He seemed to love walking through the remnants of the children’s joy. At the end of the evening, he would put his arm around mother and say, “Look at this mess we started.”

Yes, for Charlie and Tiney Lowery, there was nothing before they met each other. To this day, it is impossible to think of one without the other. My mother said she died the day Daddy died. And yet here she is sitting vigil over the family because for some reason unknown to any of us, God sees fit to leave her here.

So with that detour, I want to take you back to my early home memories. Our house was built on a hill that came to be called Headache Hill. The reason being, as my Dad always said, “You get what you pay for.” So he paid nothing, but got a headache. There was no water or sewage on the property when we first moved, and I am not even certain when we got electricity.

This lack led to creative thinking. One of my earliest memories is Daddy bringing home a box of dynamite to make the septic system. He and Gene had been digging for days in a hill made of limestone. Nothing will grow on limestone save cactus, mustang grapes, and copperhead snakes. Daddy was an ironworker and had access to such things as dynamite, so rather than break his back digging a septic system he brought home a box of dynamite.

All three of us girls gathered around while he placed the dynamite in various places in the back of our house. It felt like a roadrunner cartoon, with the box of dynamite with a skull on it sitting around the corner of the house, and all of us standing around barefooted in shorts, not a hard hat in sight. After great debate about how many sticks of dynamite it takes to make a septic tank in limestone, Daddy ran the fuse around the corner of the house, lit it, of course it had to go out a number of times before it stayed lit long enough to ignite the dynamite. Those one and one-half sticks of dynamite rattled every window in the house, not breaking one. Life on Headache Hill started and continued always to some kind of an adventure. Or maybe it was life with Charlie Lowery that was an adventure. Some of my sweetest memories are of my dad.

My childhood home brings up memories of food fights, lots of laughter, games, hot Texas summers, swimming at the lake, feet like leather, traveling to wherever Daddy was working at the time. My childhood home was not so much a place but the people. We always had the home outside of Fort Worth, Texas. Texas has always been home, but it was Charlie and Tiney Lowery who were home. Because of them I have never been afraid that I would be hungry or cold or alone. As emotionally distant as my mother is, I always know that if I need anything of a physical nature I can go to her and she would go to the ends of the earth to acquire it for me or any one of us she calls family.

I am trying to describe the place, home, but it is so much more than a place. It is the people who have resided there who made is what it was. The place itself was in the country on a hill, surrounded by trees and across the street and down the hill was Eagle Mountain Lake. The view from the back of the house is amazing. I watched as every season passed by. I have seen that same scenery for over 56 years and it is beautiful. On July 4th we have a 360 degree view of the fireworks from downtown to the lake. We saw blazing sunsets in front and heart-stopping sun rises from the kitchen table. I learned about nature and beauty in this house. My mother, an artist, taught us to know God’s love and Mother Nature’s pallet in this home. How many days did I hear, “Isn’t that the most beautiful sun rise you have ever seen?. Look at the burnt umber.” I am still trying to figure out which color is burnt umber.

My life on Eagle Mountain Circle was laughter and tears, skinned knees and bicycles, lots of family, mosquito bites, swimming and sun burn, sun rises, sunsets, burnt umber, and always, always lots of love.

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