A couple of weeks ago, I visited my first homes. I drove by my first childhood home and was almost surprised when I didn’t see what I carried in memory: the droopy clothes line, rusted swing set, dog pen and the holes I dug in the dirt driveway. I realized that I’ve spent so much time looking behind in the rear view that I failed to see my own reflection; the time that passed, the aging that occurs whether or not my mind has forfeited to time.
I returned to my hometown for the primary reason to look through my grandmother’s possessions. She passed away a little over a year ago while in a coma. I’ll never forgot the fright I had. I refused to see her in those last days. I was told she didn’t look like herself. As I have a visual memory that stays quite clear, I decided I could not see her in that way. My way with grieving was not facing the grief. Each day we (the family) thought she would pass; even the nurses didn’t know what was making her hold to the earth, but she held on a while longer than expected. One night, very late, I felt an urge to speak with her. I called the hospital and asked if they would put the phone to her ear. I won’t disclose the things I said, but they were words I had wanted to say for many years. I felt a difference from the second I hung up the phone. Within a matter of hours she passed away. Coincidence, maybe. However, I don’t think coincidences are coincidences.
I am more than aware that none of us will be here forever, but it never prepares us for that change. My knowledge never prepared me for touching her cold hand at the service, or seeing her home without her heart still in it or her voice absorbed in the walls…and the house I spent many years in, as nothing more than walls and bare floor. The morning glories gone. The gravel road to the house, now paved.
And these things I missed were not truly being missed. It was the changes that scared me, even though not all of them bad. It upset me that Christopher’s Store was gone. It upset me that the railroad track paths were gone. It upset me that there was no bed to collapse on like I did when I was a teen.
Once I left, I did see, however, that many of the things I thought I missed were things that I had wanted to forget. My grandmother, missed immensely, now at rest, with a knot tied, as of last year, in my memory. Even with that realization comes a realization that I have grown into something much more than I imagined in the days I walked those paths and paced those floors. I’m just sad and itching inside that the world I knew back then doesn’t get to witness any thing new of me. But, yet again, I don’t believe anything happens without reason; even that.