November 17, 2007

Home, Still Home

This is a view from a home of mine. Is there a place that you know where your soul snuggles in and feels as grounded as it possibly can? This is my place. My grandfather's house. The memories I have from this corner, from this field, from this view are unlike any other memories. They are unlike any other thoughts I ever have. When I go to visit my grandfather, my body, mind and soul gear down to their slowest, most simple gears. Life stops, there is no business, there is no war, there is no mess in my kitchen, there are no goals yammering in my head, there is no tomorrow and no yesterday. I am just there, home.

When I was born, my mom was in college, dad just graduated. I stayed largely with my grandparents. My grandmother was, at the most elemental definition, a mother to me. A person that my soul recognizes with oneness and peace, contentment, joy. I didn't realize this consciously until I was an adult and learned more about my early years and began to connect the dots of my feelings with the facts of the past. Grammy equalled home, reality, truth. We were born a day apart. We laughed at the same things. She served me tea and milk in a cup and saucer and once the tea spilled into the saucer a bit and the cup spun in it all by itself. We had a moment of wonder and silliness that I'll never forget, my Grammy and me. One day she was picking lima beans for dinner and I snuck around the field, down the heavy green rows and popped out and scared her. She let out a hoot and jumped. Another memory that gives me joy. She and I slept together in her big bed and she read me little books, taught me to pray and told me there were alligators under her bed. I believed her. When I was older, after my first miscarriage, we sat on the front porch swing and she said, "I wonder why those things happen." I didn't know it then, but she'd lost a baby boy at birth.

In Pop Pop's yard, I learned about life. He hired me to pick potato bugs off his plants. He told me to be extra careful around the mole traps he set around. I used his outhouse whenever possible, just because it was really cool. He always reminded us to be especially careful of his plants as we ran up and down his perfectly kept rows. Once I found a tiny mouse and I set up a tiny hovel for him in a giant pile of woodchips. I brought him berries and leaves, the things kids bring wild animals to eat. I'll never forget that tiny mouse. I often found animal tracks and nibbles on his plants and I thought those animals had some nerve, coming out of the woods, feasting on my grandfather's garden. This time, Sean found deer tracks as he ran through Pop Pop's overgrown garden. He ran back inside and reported it to Pop Pop, lying in his chair, unable to be in his garden to care for it the way he'd like to.

On this last visit, my mom cut Pop Pop's hair. As I watched from the next room, I thought of my childhood when I used to see my Pop Pop cutting his father's hair in that same humble kitchen. He had such respect for him and I loved to see him treating his father so specially.

I like that first picture of my Grammy's glass and my Pop Pop's field. But I hate that taking pictures is what I feel driven to do while I'm there. I feel I am trying to remember it already. And my memories are more than boxwood and collections of Grammy's yard sale favorites. But everything else is slowly dwindling away. The garden is waning. The house is collecting dust. My Pop Pop can't move like he - the ox - used to . When I was little, I had a trepidation when he hugged me because he took great joy in squeezing the air right out of us children with his strong hard arms. He liked showing us that he could twist an apple clean in half. Now I lean over and hug him in his chair and tell him not to get up.

When Grammy died, it's true, a little part of me did too. But I can go and sort of see her in her things, her home, my grandfather. I've just begun to realize that there will come a time that I won't be able to touch those memories anywhere but in my mind and that leaves me worried. I have Pop Pop's cherished Bible...I have Grammy's buttons - tons of them that we kids used to play with...I have Grammy's old tins, one filled with her curlers, I just can't seem to throw them out...I have letters that she and I wrote back and forth...But what happens when that's all you have? I don't know how a part of you, the very foundational part, just wisps away into thin air and disappears as if it's never been there.


rosemary said...

Oh, that I could have been like your Grammy and married a Pop Pop when I was young. I have wondered outloud, in my blog and in my mind just what you can a foundational part of us just wisp away??? Thank you Jennie for visiting on the 63rd. I will mark your bikaarthday week and try to think of something profound to tell you.

rosemary said... did part of the secret letters get into birthday??? ekcooj!

Paul said...

Take pictures. Take pictures. Take pictures. And thank the Lord for digital cameras because there are such things as house fires.

Take pictures. Take pictures. Take pictures. Memories and peace of made of pictures.

Lea said...

..In the future, you need to buy that house Jen, you need to be there... to pass it on... to keep it going....they say " home is where the heart is"....your body walks the city.... but your heat lives here... I feel it....Some day... they need to live int he same place

Anonymous said...

I know you will be blessed with grace that answers your questions, Jennie.

All is gift.


patty said...

jennie, i have been reading your blogs since connecting on fb, and i just have to say that they have touched my heart. thanks for sharing your thoughts and writing talents, I'm sure you are touching the lives of many! :)