Happy Thanksgiving, Ryan Johnson, wherever you are

By BETH BUNCH,

The turkey has seen better days. But then, he was a loner when I rescued him from a parking lot in Meridian or somewhere in that vicinity several years ago.

I wasn’t getting to go home for Thanksgiving that year because of work duties, so my Mom and Mimmy met me at a restaurant to have a meal and bring me some things I needed before Christmas. It was almost the halfway point between here and home. That’s where I met him.

Not real sure how many years that’s been and up until very recently, like a recent weekend, I had no idea who he once belonged to or if he had a name.

I just knew when I saw him there alone on the asphalt that I couldn’t leave him, no matter what his lineage. He needed an appropriate home for Thanksgiving. I was pretty sure there were no others of his ilk around.

He just had that look about him that made you want to pick him up and give him a good home. And so, for a large number of years, he’s been at my house. (The homeless can’t be picky).

At my house he took up residency on the side of the refrigerator, held in place by a large strawberry magnet that was something I got from my Mamaw Bunch’s when we were cleaning out her house. I think there was also a carrot, an eggplant and maybe a tomato. The grandchildren loved playing with them when we went for a visit, but I was the lucky one who got to take them home.

Who couldn’t appreciate his flat crudely-colored Magic Marker body and rather droopy wings made of white paper and enhanced with the colorings of a child, not to mention the bright yellow beak and deep red goozler (I know it has an official name, but that’s always been what I’ve called it, so why change now), and small eyes that peered from a sea of brown marker… a face only a mother could love, and most likely a school teacher.

His white ruffly collar and leggings above bright orange feet gave him a Pilgrimy feel, just perfect for Thanksgiving, for which I’m sure he was created.

His brightly-colored wings (blue, orange, green, brown, yellow, red) were glued haphazardly to his ill-cut body, but gave him a slight resemblance to a bedraggled NBC peacock.

He’d seen better days.

I didn’t know what young hands had carefully glued and colored him, giving him life.

There in the parking lot alone, looking rather forlorn, he must have fallen or blown out of somebody’s car when they stopped to get out for a bit to eat or for a pit stop.

I’m certain his being left on the parking lot was not intentional. Maybe he was created and belonged to someone local or maybe by some young budding artist traveling to his or her grandparents’ home for Thanksgiving.

All I knew is he didn’t make it to his desired destination. And I’ve wondered if some heartbroken child arrived home or at the end of a lengthy journey eager to deliver his artwork into the waiting hands of doting family members only to be horribly disappointed.

I’m not sure why, but in all these years

I’ve had the turkey, I had only “seen” him from his front. I’d never bothered to turn him over. Guess I thought that might have been a bit “rude.” But for some reason,

after a number of years I took “old Tom” down from his place of honor on the fridge. When I did, I turned him over and there written crudely on the back in brown marker was “Goddle Goddle Happy Turkey day. From Ryan Johnson. To Aunt Carol and Uncle Wesley.”

I didn’t and don’t know Ryan or his aunt and uncle. I have no idea where they live; however, with Facebook these days I might be able to track them down rather easily. I’m sure that Ryan’s coloring, cutting and penmanship have improved greatly in the years since the turkey was created by his small loving hands.

These days Ryan may be a college student and thoughts of cutout or pinecone turkeys seem silly.

While I’m sure he was disappointed at the time that his turkey never found its way to a place of prominence on a relative’s refrigerator door, I wish he knew that his creation was not in vain.

I wish he knew that somebody happened along and appreciated his workmanship, so much so that they picked it up and took it home to enjoy for these however many years.

I put this masterpiece back on the refrigerator where “old Tom” will live out his days, his colorful wings becoming a bit more curled and faded as the years pass.

Happy Thanksgiving, Goddle Goddle, Ryan Johnson, wherever you are!

Bunch is the managing editor of The PineBeltNEWS and a sentimental fool.