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Lost - A Pagan Parent's Tale

Author: Merideth Allyn
Posted: August 6th. 2015
Times Viewed: 5,526

The Saturday morning sun hit my five-year-olds’ golden hair and sprayed a bright halo that seemed to shimmer and surround his sturdy little body. The sky was azure and the air was summer sultry, sweet with the scent of honeysuckle and sundry-colored wildflowers growing near the water’s edge. Rustic fishing boats were bobbing gently in the shade of ancient Cypress trees, harbingers of death and loss, but not so to me that day as their mysterious beauty overshadowed any legendary ill omen.

The sunlight also betrayed dense foliage and zillions of thick pink and green water lilies. The lily pads appeared to suffocate the teeming fish and reptile life swarming beneath the sometimes deep, sometimes shallow water. Fishermen came from miles around to cast their lines into the ten-thousand-acre expanse of algae-filled lake and marshes. The huge, natural, born-of-an-earthquake environment of land and water with thick cypress forests had an eerie and haunting poignancy which could, if allowed, permeate the marrow of even the least soulfully conscious. Eagles and hawks flew high. Waterfowl were abundant. My heart soared as I breathed deeply of the freedom I felt.

The humid, hot and pungent air would soon become threatening, though. Pushing off around eight in the morning to locate the perfect picnic spot, I left my son in the expert care of paid-with-food male role models. All three of the “men” were now sight unseen on the water. Supposed to be back in thirty-to-forty-five minutes, by noon I feared the worst. I knew the worst. My son was somewhere on that now-forbidding lake lost on that hostile watery landscape of Reelfoot Lake in southwest Tennessee.

There were five of us including my son. Four “adults, ” and I use that term loosely now, two men (the male role models) , my girlfriend, and myself, a divorced, 29-year-old mother. Unthinking, my girlfriend and I let the guys go out on the lake to locate the perfect picnic spot with my young son in tow. Four hours passed and I was frantic by noon when no one returned. We had anticipated and estimated their return by nine, at the latest. The sun was blasting and my pacing only increased the potency of my fear-filled sweat glands. I was overwhelmed with anxiety-turned-to-panic now bordering on terror. Had the boat tipped and dropped my beautiful son into the blue, green and brown bowels of the now-malevolent water into the arms of the evil Lady of the Lake who took but never returned? Had my son become embroiled in a nest of mating venomous snakes? Was he frightened and crying for me? Was he lost to me forever? No more Eskimo or butterfly kisses? No more hugs, bedtime stories or prayers? No more tying of a wayward sneaker lace?

My imagination had taken me to full-fledged desperation. Water bottles accumulated by my tapping-with-fear feet as I sat upon a rotting Cypress log, it’s ill omen no longer ignored. At noon I saw a boat approaching but with only one rower. No sign of my son or my other friend. When he brought the boat to shore, he said, as if nothing was amiss, that they had, indeed, found the perfect picnic spot. I was furious but realized that I could now be on my way to retrieve the most precious of gifts the Goddess and God had ever graced me. But, alas, what we were to embark upon was more abject terror and merciless misery. There were multitudinous wrong turns down the thousands of canals - hours and hours of it. Snakes were out in force. The green mud sucked at our boat when the canals became too shallow and the prolific water lilies and weeds seemed to enjoy the game of ensnarement. We were grabbed and clutched by the many over-hanging and now-sinister branches of the monstrous old trees. Oh, dear Creator where was my son? The only other human contact was an isolated duck blind. Birds wailed and screeched my agony.

I begged my friend to turn around so that we might have time to find a guide before dark. But, Mr. Macho wouldn’t stop because he always knew the next canal would be the picnic spot. Finally, oh finally, he surrendered to go for help after the sun was rappelling downward in all its reds, corals, violets and gold so quickly I was frightened it would be dark before we found our point of departure or a guide.

The red and burnished gold sun was now only a few feet from the horizon. I was most aware that the clock was tick-tocking in seconds instead of minutes. We had no idea where to find a guide, but where we docked there were four weather-worn gentlemen playing poker under a shade tree who gave us directions to a nearby lodge…oh, please, Goddesses of all children, let us find the guide in time…hurry, hurry, hurry. My heart was pounding in a syncopated miscellany of hard thumps.

The guide we found at the lodge was good-natured and calm, an integral part of the lake you could tell. Grizzled with years, his sun-parched face and smile and his twinkling green eyes betrayed humor at our plight. Instead of getting angry, though, he gave me a confidence I had not felt in the whole, long, miserable day. As I shook uncontrollably, he reassured me that he knew the lake like the back of his gnarled and brown-spotted hands. And, he did. Again, I thank my God and Goddess for it was approaching eight p.m., and darkness was descending more rapidly than a firefly can blink.

What was lost to me for twelve terribly long and frightening hours was found in thirty short-long minutes. I anticipated my son’s need for me must be great.

But my son, in his innocence and faith, had been unafraid and wondered at my profound fear and copious tears. He had built a lean to, told me of the snake he saw, and all the picnic food he had eaten. My other “paid” adult role model had slept most of the time I feared they were unalterably lost.

Returning to that day still punches a hole in my stomach with fear to fill it. Many other plights were to follow as I demonstrated parental idiocy in place of good sense as he grew into the man he now is. I can and do still ponder the “what ifs’” that have, from time-to-time, besieged me. The guilt I carried for not being a more mindful parent plagued me for a very long time. But I then realized that the entire concept of being a perfect parent is out of the realm of possibility. We are, after all, human, our children, are human and with land mines wherever we step, most parents just learn as they go. No directions came with my child; did they with yours?

So, I’m still practicing self-forgiveness for the mishaps that occurred while my son was entrusted to me. I am happy to say that my son survived me. And, his children, my grandsons will survive his parenting and so on and so on and so on unto all generations. But, I must still practice although I made my amends long ago. For there are always limitless opportunities to demonstrate strength and thus guide our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren in leading better and more mature lives than we may have shown while they were still so young.


Merideth Allyn

Location: Jackson, Tennessee

Author's Profile: To learn more about Merideth Allyn - Click HERE

Bio: Merideth Allyn is a Freelance Writer who has worked as a journalist in the print media for 35 years after which she began freelancing. Her work has appeared in Modern Witch, Witches and Pagans, SageWoman, Circle Magazine and she is a current columnist for Crone: Women Coming of Age. Her work has also been published in 15 anthologies for which she has won awards.

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