Columnist: The tie that binds

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 28, 2016

Lynn Walker Gendusa

Contributing columnist

“There she is!” I shouted to myself. I had found the old Walker Family Bible sitting in a drawer of my mother’s antique wash stand.

The binding was mostly gone. It was being held together with jute twine tied in a bow to keep its pages and history intact.

I have always thought I have two homes. LaGrange, Georgia and Monterey, Tennessee. The latter is where I was born as well as all those listed on the Bible record by Lou Cynthia Ray Walker in 1879.

The history of Monterey is rich with tales of Frontiersmen forging the way west in this country. Tom Walker, Daniel Boone, Andrew Jackson, and Davy Crockett are part of our lore.

In its heyday it became a mecca for the traveler. They came in stagecoaches, and then cars. Inns and hotels sprang up welcoming visitors to the beautiful vistas and mountain air.

The Monterey Lake was the home of an exclusive girl’s camp in the mid-1900s and as pretty of a piece of land as you would ever see surrounded its clear water. It was open to fishing, swimming and fun for years.

By the time we left Tennessee in the mid-’60s Monterey was a shadow of its original self. The glory days had faded and worn like the pages of the Bible that bear our family name.

Most of the lake is now privately held by the Walkers and I had lost touch with those that own it.

One day, after visiting my niece in Nashville, I took the back way home to Atlanta and stopped in Monterey to put flowers on the graves of my family.

A barren hillside that is filled with rows of names I know as kin. I sat among the gray tombstones on a hot July day and sadly realized that the boisterous, funny Walker clan was now silent.

I came to LaGrange when I was 15 and it is my second home.

On the first day of being a new student I sat down in my homeroom class in front of a handsome boy named Steve.

His broad smile welcomed and calmed me immediately. We became good friends and we often had class together. Sometimes he would sit behind me and pull a strand of my hair. It was a reminder that I knew he always had my back.

After high school he went on to college and then off into the world. He became very successful and I was proud of the young man that had made me feel welcome even though we had lost touch.

Last year my friend Deborah went with me to Nashville to help my sister-in-law get settled in her new home. I drove the long way to show her where I had once lived.

We came upon the Monterey Lake and the Walker Farm. The gate to the property was open. I drove through it. It was prettier than I had remembered. Farm land stretched immaculately around the water and in the center of vast acreage was a beautiful home nestled among the trees. There, at its entrance, was another gate and a “No Trespassing” sign.

It too was open.

“Go in … maybe you will find a relative!”, Deborah coaxed.

“Well, I know the Walkers and we could get shot!”

I stopped at the gate unsure, but finally, I inched the car up the drive.

Just as I did, a car started backing out of the garage.

I hopped out of my car as fast as I could to try to stop the bullets. The man in the car saw me approaching. He was looking at me very quizzically. At least he didn’t have a gun!

I knew him immediately.

“Bobby?” I timidly asked. “Yes, can I help you?” he answered.

“It’s Lynn Walker, John’s sister, your cousin.”

Then as if the sky opened he knew who I was. A big hug and smiles followed.

In Bobby, I saw his dad, my dad, my brother and all those that are in the old Bible and resting on that barren hillside. His jovial nature reminding me that the Walker clan is not silent nor lost.

I cannot describe what finding Bobby was like for me; I was no longer an orphan.

Back to Steve. Since writing for the paper, Steve and I have gotten back in touch through emails and talks. He lives in Nashville.

One of my stories about my great-grandmother had mentioned Monterey. He emailed to tell me he was just in Monterey for a wedding.

“Were you at a lake?” I questioned.

“No, I was at a farm. Why?”

“Oh nothing, my cousin Bobby owns a beautiful lake and farm there, that’s all,” I replied.

“What? Wait, is your cousin an attorney in Nashville?!” he questioned, surprised.

“Yes. Why?”

“He has been an attorney for me for a while and one of the nicest litigators I know.”

From the young man that made me feel welcomed in LaGrange to the lost cousin who made me feel home again in Monterey, tied to together like the twine on the old family Bible.

Bless be the tie that binds. The mysterious threads of our lives that tie it all together and put a bow on it.

Lynn Walker Gendusa is a former LaGrange resident who currently resides in Roswell.