The Bright Side Of The Road

“From the dark end of street… to the bright side of the road
We’ll be lovers once again, on the bright side of the road…

Little darlin’ come with me… won’t you help me share my load
From the dark end of the street, to the bright side of the road…

Into this life we’re born
Baby sometimes we don’t know why
And time seems to go by so fast
In the twinkling of any eye

Let’s enjoy it while we can
Won’t you help me sing my song
From the dark end of the street
To the bright side of the road”

— Van Morrison

When I was a young child, Uncle Tommy lived next door to Nana (of “out of the garden” fame). He had a fish pond out front, under a huge stand of cedar trees. Oh, how we kids loved to run and hide in those trees, perfect for little legs to climb. Below, the big goldfish swam in that deep dark pond. Of course it was only a few feet wide and not very deep, but to us youngsters it was scary-huge! We were always careful in our play, not to fall in.

Late summer afternoons would find us gathered at the weather-worn picnic table in Nana’s backyard… munching corn-on-the-cob, dropped into the pot just moments after being picked… our little faces smeared with melted butter. Often there was fresh bluefish too, straight from Vineyard Sound and grilled simply with a squeeze of lemon on an old charcoal grill. We ate in our bathing suits, still warm from the heat of the beach down the road, with happy smiling buttery faces all around.

Sometimes Uncle Tommy would come striding across the stone drive that separated the two houses — Nana’s big one and his little one — and chase us around after supper. Many was the time I was scooped up in his strong arms and carried quickly across that drive, kicking and screaming and shrieking with childish laughter and faux fear at the threat of being tossed into the fish pond.

Of course he never did it, but it was a thrill to us kids all the same.

When Uncle Tommy turned 50, we, his nieces, organized a big surprise party at his little house. It was a typical late spring party for our large extended family, full of laughter, plenty of good food (Uncle Jim’s famous chowdah!) and drink, and volleyball! After the crowd had dispersed, the diehards sat around in the yard while cousins strummed on guitars; we all sang along.

At the end of the evening, cleaning up, I spun a few CDs in the little kitchen.

One of the songs on the rotating set was “Bright Side Of The Road” by Van Morrison. Uncle Tommy came into the kitchen where I was standing at the sink, grabbed my hand and whisked me away dancing to that cheerful tune, dishtowel still around my neck.

I never saw Uncle Tommy happier than at that moment — and that was how I fell instantly in love with Van Morrison and his voice.

You can listen to the original here:

Van Morrison

Here’s the live version:

Van Morrison Bright Side Of The Road

Uncle Tommy passed away today.

I love you dear uncle… and I’ll never forget how through you, I found my mantra. I know that now, the dark end of the street is behind you… you’re on the bright side of the road.

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4 Comments »

  1. shammi said

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Linda. I’m glad that you have good memories, though… and what a lovely description from your childhood. I’m sorry that it was occasioned by your uncle’s death, but I’m so glad I had the chance to read it.

    Aw, thank you Shammi, you’re dear to me too! I’m not much of a reminiscence writer, but sometimes the words just flow. Thanks for your kindness 🙂

  2. Barbara said

    I am so sorry for your loss. But I rejoice that you have such rich memories. Hold them close and thank you for sharing.

    Thank *you* Barbara, for your kind comments… I appreciate that! 🙂

  3. Sra said

    Lovely tribute, Linda. RIP Uncle Tommy.

    For once I had a gift to write something almost as nicely as you do, Sra! And I thank you sincerely for your kindness 🙂

  4. indosungod said

    Hugs to you Linda.

    Those are kind of memories that magical childhoods are made of. Uncle Tommy did it for you and I am so sorry for your loss.

    Thank you, ISG… I know you would have loved him, and he you. I really appreciate your kindness 🙂

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