My Pop was the kind of grandfather many aspire to be but miss the mark. He always had a hand ready to hold, a lap for me to sit on, an ear and time for me. He never said no when I wanted to trail behind him as he tended the beautiful flowers in his backyard garden. I can still tell a marigold from a zinnia and a Bouncing Betty from a Black-Eyed Susan. On clear evenings, we would walk out from the front porch to watch the night sky and he would point out constellations and stars. I learned to find Orion as well as both the Big and Little Dipper. Like my Granny, he had stories and wisdoms that I soaked up like a small sponge. He loved to fish, to catch them and bring them home to have fish frys that were legendary.
We often watched the sun set from their west-facing porch and sometimes would watch storms as they rolled in. Granny was afraid of storms but my parents didn't want me to be so my Pop often took me onto the porch at any time of day to watch storms.
Then one day he talked about dawn as the most beautiful time of day. And I, at the age of seven, realized that I had never watched the sun rise. Because Pop said it was lovely, it became my ambition one summer to watch dawn.
Since my mother preferred to sleep later during the summer season, it was fortunate that one of my bedroom windows faced east. From the second story, that provided me with a clear view of the eastern sky over Highly Street. There was enough sky above the street, the houses, and the city to see.
My first efforts fell short. I woke up after the sun had risen or when dawn was in progress but being stubborn, I kept trying.
I would curl into the window sill of the tall window and wait.
Sometime during that summer, I accomplished my goal.
I will never forget how the first faint fingers of light appeared on the horizon, light in the darkness. The sky began to be illuminated with a golden hue that touched the few clouds and turned them to rose. Dawn brought out the vivid blue of the sky in a beautiful way I have never ceased to appreciate.
That was my first dawn and I couldn't wait to share the news with Pop.
For the rest of that summer, as often as I awakened early enough, I watched the day break with wonder and appreciation.
I wrote a poem during my teenage years titled simply "Dawn". It's in my first - and only - published poetry chapbook, Pieces Of My Heart, and it appeared in a few publications along the way.
Although I am an early riser, I don't take time to watch the sun rise as often as I should. My home faces west so the backyard looks east but the location among Neosho's many hills doesn't offer a clear shot at watching dawn. The colors of dawn are still vivid but my view isn't one of the horizon.
I've watched day break in many places including the roof top of a hotel in New York City and over the Gulf of Mexico. I've often admired the morning sky as I pull into the parking lot at the newspaper. In my substitute teacher days, I often stopped en route to take photos of dawn with my phone.
It's been cloudy and rainy a lot recently but on the first clear morning, I'll make the effort to watch day break. It's a sign of renewal and hope that I - and the rest of the world - needs.
-Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy is the community editor for The Neosho Daily News and The Aurora Advertiser. She writes a weekly column, A Writer's View.