June 7, 2019

Neal’s Death Owl

Homer Neal LewisHomer Neal Lewis

For a month I have witnessed only a white sun blazing down with nearly 100 degree temps and dust, there is no rain. And it is only May. Two weeks ago one evening a death owl came visiting. I spotted him before dusk in a tree staring at me, then after a few long moments, he flew away as I raised the camera.

The death owl

According to family lore, he is warning that a death is coming to the clan O’Carroll. And death did come days later; our patriarch died in his sleep. Homer Neal at 97.

With him, I think dies a part of us. Not that many of us” exist anymore. Not the real Carrolls. We exist in the ground of this place, our bones interned, in spirit and in the memories of a few that are dwindling in number. There is a log cabin and church we built and gave to the community. But largely we are fading away into a forgotten history and being absorbed into the red clay. When all the living are gone and no on left to hold the memories of those who came before us…what then ? Do we cease to exist ? I have always questioned why we were here and why G-d gave us such deep knowledge of this place (we came in the 1820’s). My Great Uncle Homer Neal reminded me the value to knowing a place in a multigenerational way, working the land season after season year after year, father son then many grandsons down. But there are also he warned demons. With such time you begin to understand what is not obvious and lies beneath the surface of whats seen by others, the why behind it. The less you know is sometimes best, the more you know worse, you can never go back to the illusion you held.

Below are a few photographs of him, the day before he left for World War Two, the moment he came back and kissed his wife Eloise. Above the day he started being a farmer. We will miss you Neal.

Leaving home to join World War II, Barbour County Alabama

Kissing Aunt Eloise



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