My family used to live on an island, except it ain’t there anymore. Now I don’t mean my family – they’re all kicking and rocking in other places. I mean the island disappeared. Sunk.
Way, way back, in the 1600s, my family came over to the New World, and my great-great-great-great (you get the picture, it was a long time ago) grandfather saw this little island in Chesapeake Bay and said that was as far as he was going. Now from what I hear tell, everyone was saying to him that the mainland was only over the bay and then they’d be home and dry (so to speak).
But he wasn’t having none of it – he said that he was staying right there on the island and no one, not even the good Lord himself was gonna move him.
That’s how my family came to live on the little island in the bay. Within a few years, some of the folks from the mainland came over because of all the fighting with the Injuns – and they settled and soon there was a few good farms on that island. The folks didn’t really need for anything.
Things went good until the Brits showed up. Said that the American people were getting a bit too high and mighty for the King’s liking, and what with not paying taxes and stuff – well we had it coming to us. My family told them that we’d all come from over there, but that wasn’t good enough for them and they burned all the houses down, arrested the kith and kin and put them in a prison in Charleston, South Carolina.
When the Redcoats got sent packing, my family moved back there and started all over again. When the Brits came back to burn down Washington DC in the early 1800s, my family were ready for them and turned them back. This time our houses stayed standing.
During the two great wars there were soldiers and marines stationed on the island just in case some foreigner should try to make it up the Potomac and get the President.
No one ever came.
And all went well right through that century, until the floods came. The sea-level started rising and the houses started getting flooded real bad. One by one, as the water level rose, folks took their families and their farming to higher places, like West Virginia.
We stayed - ours was the last house on the island. The very last.
As my family died off, they had to bury them over on the mainland, but me, I refused to go. I sat at the window of my old place and looked out on the bay that we all loved and cared for. Except it was coming to take back its own.
I’m writing this in the house and they say they are coming to tear it down tomorrow. I’m only hoping that the good Lord sees fit to take me while my home is still here.
Yours, John Wakefield, Holland Island, Chesapeake Bay.
bobby stevenson 2016