Part Of The Flow

June 21st, 2019

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Our daughter and son-in-law live in Marcellus, New York, a village just outside of Syracuse. For those of you who don’t know where that is, it’s two days and one night at La Quinta from here, through Cincinnati at rush hour, past Columbus, Cleveland, Buffalo and Niagara Falls, several exits for Canada, a couple of Great Lakes, 1,100 miles, and several feet of snow a year to the northeast.

And about eight miles from Memphis.

During our recent visit, Hallie and Kyle had some folks over for a cookout. The husband of one of Hallie’s colleagues at Syracuse University told me that he, too, was from Memphis … not this city but a hamlet of about ten houses about 20 minutes from Marcellus … not on the Mississippi but close by Ninemile Creek, a trout steam my brother Frank would have loved.

A couple of days later, I was at a gathering in Frank’s house in the Adirondacks talking to a man in the kitchen. He introduced himself. Jim Strickland … not the Mayor of Memphis but a friend of Frank’s.

The day after that, I was in a shop in the town of Skaneateles, New York, along the shore of one of the area’s gorgeous finger lakes. Hearing my drawl, the shop owner asked where I lived. When I answered, he said, “Me, too.” He and his wife live in one of the aforementioned ten houses in the hamlet of Memphis. He told me that they come to the Beale Street Music Festival every year to sell their handcrafted wares.

On this trip, as you may have read in my column last week, the gathering of family and friends at Frank’s was to spread his ashes in the stream behind his house.

Three days after we returned, on June 10 at 7:25 p.m., another of us arrived in Memphis. Our grandchild Hayes McGinnis Conaway was born to Courtney and Gaines Conaway, 8 lbs. 15 oz., 21 1/2 in., their third child.

Welcome, Mac. The circle is made. The circle continues.

Mac will never know his great uncle Frank, but I guarantee he’s going to fish for trout. His other grandfather, Mac, will make sure of it. I’m also guessing he’ll be good at it, because there’s some of Frank and some of Mac in him. Whether he ever visits the area of that other Memphis in New York, some of him is already there, and in his aunt and cousins. He is part of the flow of the Mississippi where my father’s ashes are, and of Frank’s stream, and he is known along the Ninemile. He is part of us. Whatever he does and wherever he goes, a little of all before and all to come are along for the ride.

Just as every one of us is an individual, every one of us is part of something larger, connected in ways large and small, and always to place. 

I’m a Memphian, and I just got a little bigger.


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