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Grace was in a crib in the room in which she had been conceived

The Flamingo Rising

Turner West saw the land first, but my canada goose outlet woodbury father was rich and bought most of it. Unlike other stories about land, this is not canada goose outlet official about farming or crops or man taming the wilderness. The land of this story was one square mile of Florida real estate halfway between Jacksonville and St. Augustine. A mile of beachfront and a mile deep into the scrubby interior, cut along the eastern edge by Highway A1A as it went south toward the Keys.

West saw the land in 1950 and knew it was where he wanted to build his funeral home. His father had been a mortician before him, and his brothers had gone into the same business in Georgia. In 1950, West had been driving down A1A canada goose outlet store montreal and saw the sun rise over the Atlantic. He told his father, canada goose outlet 2015 but the elder West was skeptical that a funeral home so far from a major city would ever be successful.

Canada Goose Parka West borrowed from his father and brothers and was able to buy two acres on the west side of A1A. The land sloped up and there was a clear view of the ocean, so the West Funeral Home opened its doors in 1951 on Easter morning. My father thought that was a nice touch, especially after he found out that Turner West was an atheist. Canada Goose Parka

buy canada goose jacket cheap West may have been an atheist, but he was also canada goose outlet an American Puritan. His work ethic was impeccable, and his funeral business prospered. He had no paid employees. His wife and six children worked with him. He personally trained his three oldest sons in mortuary science a fact my father particularly admired about Turner West. In his own case, until he was ordered by the Duval County courts to obey the canada goose premium outlet law, my father had educated me and my sister at home. I was twelve years old before I saw the inside of a classroom. buy canada goose jacket cheap

canada goose coats on sale As an atheist, Turner canada goose outlet phone number West belonged to five churches and a synagogue. On Sunday morning he was up canada goose outlet london uk at dawn and attended services first at the downtown Jacksonville Baptist Church, then at the First Church of Christ at 9:30, followed by the Methodists at 11:00, the Episcopalians at 1:00, a late lunch at home, and finally 5:30 Mass at the Cathedral in St. Augustine. He was in temple on Saturday. He absorbed hours of canada goose shop uk religion every week, but he never volunteered for any committee work at any of the churches and always insisted that his name not appear in any printed material, except for the regular ad in each church’s bulletin. His priest, pastor, and rabbi friends appreciated his humility. I know this because Grace West later explained to me canada goose outlet online store why her father went to church. canada goose coats on sale

”Contacts,” she had said. canada goose outlet near me ”Everyone wants a friend in a time of need. Daddy is there for them because he has always been there. When the moment comes, Daddy says, they are lost. The living, that is, and they want someone who can understand their grief. Daddy has always been part of their congregation. Who else would they choose?”

Canada Goose Outlet My father understood perfectly how West’s mind operated. My father, the agnostic. Canada Goose Outlet

Canada Goose online ”Abraham, he is a worthy opponent,” my father would say. ”He understands the power of symbols, even though he does not realize that he is the ultimate symbol himself.” Canada Goose online

canada goose black friday sale On his two acres, West built his business and his home. The funeral home was styled after a southern plantation house, white columns and Jeffersonian arches. The West family lived in the back: Turner and his wife in a large bedroom canada goose outlet winnipeg address over the garage full of hearses and limousines, their six sons sharing three small rooms on the ground floor next to the embalming room. canada goose black friday sale

canadian goose jacket For my father, Turner West was an adversary. He was Death personified. My father was Life. canadian goose jacket

Canada Goose sale ”This is the spot for my Great White Wall,” he had told my mother, pointing to a large half moon shaped indentation that pushed A1A in a long arcing curve away from the ocean. Another visionary might have seen a perfect spot for a tourist hotel fronting a hard beach that could accommodate pale and flabby easterners and their two ton cars. My father saw a drive in theatre. It is a story my mother loved to tell. My canada goose outlet trillium parka black father looked at the rising sun, turned 180 degrees, and faced the West Funeral Home. With both arms spread wide, he had said, ”I will blot your sun canada goose jacket outlet uk out with a Wall of Life. I will put you in the dark.” Canada Goose sale

canada goose deals ”I told your father that he was crazy” my mother would laugh” canada goose outlet new york city but that I loved him anyway.” canada goose deals

canada goose clearance It was not really a personal vendetta against Turner West. That canada goose outlet shop came later. But on that first day, my father had simply had a vision about what to do with his money, the ample and undeserved money handed down to him as the last of the Lee family from Winston Salem. canada goose clearance

cheap Canada Goose I give you these details to make sure you do not fall into canada goose kensington parka uk the easy interpretation that others have. Too many people have told me that the war made my father crazy. But canada goose outlet canada that’s not true. My father was disjointed even before going to Korea a week after seeing his land in Florida. My mother told me all the stories about his family, the death of his parents in a murder suicide, canada goose outlet las vegas how he found them the summer before his senior year in high school. cheap Canada Goose

buy canada goose jacket ”He was different after that, the rest of his family told me,” she would say. ”Not as quiet, not the shy child they had known before then, just not the same. And he went to Korea knowing that he would not die, that he had to come back here to build his dream. He sent me drawings every month, gave me specific instructions canada goose stockists uk for the contractors, and even canada goose outlet store toronto made me go to California to buy those giant redwoods. He also told me that you and Louise were going to be our children, canada goose outlet nyc described you exactly as you were, even before I saw you.” She told me canada goose outlet authentic all this, and then she canada goose outlet in uk would smile that smile my father must have loved the first time he saw her. buy canada goose jacket

Turner West married his high school sweetheart. They were virgins in both body and heart. I have seen canada goose outlet in montreal their wedding pictures. Imagine a handsome version of Abraham Lincoln, literally, and you have Turner West. Tall, angular, sad eyes, coal black canada goose outlet real hair, long arms, but with a movie star quality. His wife was short and a bit plump. They had kissed at seventeen, pledged their love at eighteen, married at twenty two, and deflowered themselves on their Atlanta honeymoon. canada goose jacket outlet sale He had told her that he was going to be a mortician like his father and grandfather, and she had still agreed to be his wife.

canada goose Her name was Grace, and she was a natural consoler. It was she who had early contact with the next of kin in those brutal first moments on the phone when the living start the dead on their last journey. West could never believe his luck in finding her. She was his wife, lover, mother, friend, and partner. In the first ten years of canada goose outlet black friday sale marriage, they had their six sons. By the time the West Funeral Home was opened, the three oldest were trained to be their father’s assistants, and the younger three were destined for the same career. The youngest was old enough to drive one of the limousines in the daily processions that began under Turner West’s bedroom. canada goose

canada goose store On the day two barges landed on the beach two barges each supporting one end of the first of those hundred foot redwoods that had been shipped from California down the Pacific coast, through the Panama Canal, up past Cuba to float offshore of the land my father had bought on that day, Turner West’s wife died. canada goose store

They had been foolish, they told themselves. She was too old to have another child. It had not been planned. It could have been terminated. Even in those unenlightened days, there were ways. But then they had canada goose outlet hong kong looked at each other and knew that things would be all right.

In the waiting room, however, Turner West had been told there was something wrong, and his long legs had outraced the doctor back to the delivery room. His wife was dead, canada goose outlet vip but his daughter was alive.

Canada Goose Jackets When the nurse asked what her name was, West had thought she meant his wife. ”Grace. Her name is Grace,” he had said, and that was the name they put on the birth certificate. Canada Goose Jackets

canada goose coats If you had asked Turner West what he remembered about the next three months he could not tell you, because he remembered nothing. Then, sitting in his bedroom one dark morning, canada goose outlet toronto location he heard a baby cry. Grace was in a crib in the room in which she had been conceived, in the room where she was to sleep in a bed next to her father’s bed for the next five years. Turner West had rocked his daughter back to sleep, and then he walked to the front of his funeral home to look out the window. At that particular moment he saw the Flamingo Drive In Theatre blocking his view of the morning sun canada goose coats.