Going Home Again

Going Home Again

The Thomas Wolfe line “you can’t go home again” is widely quoted, with various connotations.  I have to admit that I’ve not read anything Mr. Wolfe wrote (or at least not that I can recall; high school was a long time ago!), so if the context here is ill-applied, mea culpa.

My parents watched their house being built in 1955, and still live there today.  But they both had roots–hers deeper than his–in a small town about 80 miles away, where we were fortunate to be frequent visitors with both sets of grandparents, a few great-grandparents, some aunts and uncles, and lots of cousins.  To me, this seemed like my rightful “hometown”, and I still stop by there now and then, mostly to place silk flowers at numerous headstones in the cemetery where 5 generations of my kin now rest.  It’s a peaceful place, that hillside by the little white Methodist church, and there are definitely more folks in the cemetery now than there are left in that tiny, sleepy town.

Cruising slowly up Cherry Street after my stop at the kirkyard, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to look at the once-proud old Victorian house that had been my maternal grandparents’ home.  Houses require upkeep, and this one hasn’t received the TLC it deserves.  Roofing, paint, and window work would be a good start, and probably some updates to the heating, plumbing and electrical systems as well.  And it’s possible the foundation could use some shoring up, and those weeds out back ought to be mowed!  I bemoaned the condition of the place to my cousin Kerry L., and received in return his kind words of wisdom, which were something along the lines of:  “Whether the house is there or not, your memories remain.  It’s the people who lived there and the time you spent with them that you miss.”

And you know what?  He is so right.  Just topping the hill on the two-lane highway approaching town, made the words “I see the Bridge!” pop into my head, just as my siblings and I raced to be the first to say them each time we were driven there for a visit.  The sight of the flagpole in the middle of the crossroads by the funeral parlor immediately brings to mind the dinner table tales of Daddy being paid a nickel (and later a dime!) to shimmy up and shine the metal ball at the top.  The fact that the driveway to the house is overgrown now doesn’t dim my joyous recollection of hopping out of the station wagon, racing to the front door to be enveloped in my grandma’s embrace, and promptly being offered some warm-from-the-oven pie crust with cinnamon sugar baked on top.  “These pieces were left over” she would tell us, “would you children like to clean this up?”, as if we were doing her a big favor by assuaging our hunger with a sweet treat before dinner.  Grandpa’s books, the card games he always won (we didn’t mind, he beat Everyone!) Grandma’s paintings, the high-ceilinged bedroom upstairs with tall windows in three walls that were angled so that we could see up and down the street as well as straight across . . . the memories go on and on.  They’re here, in my head and in my heart, where they will stay and be treasured.

And in this way, even through the grief of loss, there is the celebration of what was.  And what it was, was pretty special.


Let’s NOT have a Party

Let’s NOT have a Party

First, a disclaimer about the picture.  It is not from this week, or even this year.  There’s snow outside right now, but not this much.  It does, however, depict pretty well how cold it has felt all this week, and how the weather folks predict it’s going to stay for the next five days or so.  BRRRR!  (shiver)!

So maybe it’s the winter blahs, or the cold-weather blues, but tonight I’m fighting the pull of having a party.  Not the fun kind . . . a Pity Party.  At first I thought “Naw, I can’t write about that; people will just think I’m out for attention.”  But the more I considered, I realized it’s likely a rather common feeling right now.  With Christmas and New Years behind us, several weeks of winter still ahead, and Valentines Day coming up next week, it’s primetime for a little non-tropical depression. If you’ve been in the greeting card aisle (or the candy section, or the holiday racks) of a store lately, maybe you’ve felt it too.  In looking for a sweet Valentine to send my parents or my grandchildren, all I seem to see are the perfect sentiments to send to someone who’s not here to receive them anymore.  And it hurts.  It hurts to the point that I have tried three times to complete this errand, only to leave empty handed from every trip.

So to give myself something to look forward to, I sent a message to the Son-of-my-House, offering to pick up the kids after school next Friday, in case he’d like to meet his sweetheart after work for a special dinner.  The grandkids and I could bake cookies, or watch a movie (Pirates!) or work a jigsaw puzzle together.  Maybe even defrock the Christmas tree . . . well.  We’ll see about that.

Perhaps you’re mourning, too, or missing a friend, a partner, a parent, a sibling, a child.  If so, I am sincerely sorry.  It may not help to read it, but I know the feeling, and sympathize.   Now tell me how you cope?  What’s your best answer for NOT having a Pity Party?  Use the “comment” link above, next to my name!