by David Lee Fleshood
In the 1990’s I was contemplating the grief associated with important losses in my life. Since I had not known either of my
Grandfathers I had not thought of that in terms of loss and grief. As I recalled the details of what I knew about F. Lee Fleshood and John Marion Seago their absence in my life seemed like a great loss. I’ve heard Robert Bly say “Every young man needs an older man to admire him. And every older man needs a young man to admire him”. That can happen in many ways, but the most normal and natural way within a family system would be admiration between Grandfathers and Grandsons.
John Marion Seago had courageous, heroic qualities. He fought in the Spanish American War. As a law enforcement officer, he protected and defended a man from an angry mob and prevented him from being the victim of a lynching. As a Deputy Sherif he was raiding an illegal liquor still in the woods when he was shot and killed by a “moonshiner”. Grandfather Seago’s name is engraved in monuments to Law Enforcement Officers killed in the line of duty at the state capital in Virginia and in Washington DC.
Lee Fleshood was a hardworking, good looking farmer who was an excellent dancer. He liked to tell jokes and take an occasional drink, although Grandma was a strict tee-totaler. They had a large family of 4 boys and 4 girls. He had the courage to borrow money and buy a 300 acre tract named Meherrin Farm. It was part of a 30,000 acre land grant from England that originally was Meherrin Plantation. It was subdivided many times and the remnant became the farm. The reason I did not know Grandfather Fleshood is that he also died as a young man. He had an Appendicitis attack and they performed an emergency operation on the dinning room table at the farm but could not save him.
It saddened me to think of all that I missed by losing both Grandfathers in their prime. The birth of my first grandson made me recall a poem I had written about grandfathers. Getting the poem framed to present to Teddy on his first Christmas encouraged me to write “About Grandfathers” to place on the back of the framed poem and help put it in the context of our family history.
The setting visualized in the poem, the walk down to the pond, the black walnut trees, the tobacco pack house, the sandy soil, were all part of Grandma Fleshood’s farm. What fun we had when 16 aunts and uncles and 16 first cousins gathered for holidays and many times on Sun. afternoons. I wish the farm was still available for our grandchildren.
When my Grandson was four we walked to the pond, petted a dog,
threw rocks and looked for frogs.
The golden shade of a walnut tree beside the water
became our special place.
When he was eight we sat under our century old tree and talked about
believing in yourself and trusting the image of god within.
Although adults are in charge, they’re not always right;
curiosity and trying new things are part of life.
Sometime you get in trouble but never let anyone label you ‘a bad person.’
Found him playing with matches in that old fire trap of a pack house.
Outside, on the hard, bare sand,
we burned baling twine and broken tobacco sticks.
Like crossing the street - - look and listen
your inner voice will say what’s best for you.
Playing with fire can be safe as well as exciting!
When he was twelve we talked about girls - wonderful creations they are,
joy and likewise pain can be stirred in us and them.
Excitement, new experiences, hazards and
listening for the inner voice are all part of life.
Kinda like playing with matches!
My Grandson, before I was even born that walnut tree beside the water
was created just for you!
Grandfathers and Grandsons play pitch and catch with a golden ball.
David Lee Fleshood 1999
Seventeen years after writing this, my first grandson was born. This poem
was presented to Theodore Phillip Richardson at his first Christmas.