Saturday, August 13, 2011

when we return home

somehow i managed to escape atlanta this weekend with only one child in tow.  bella and i shared a suitcase and traveled lightly to my parents house in ohio.   i finagled the leaving of four others at home with their father, four days before the start of school.  tomorrow night, on the eve of their first day, tiny girl and i will roll back into our home.  just barely making it in time to rouse a few summer-spent children to their uniforms and backpacks and brand new school year.  which as i write tonight from ohio, i can only hope we are ready for. 
the timing wasn’t ideal.  sitting 700 miles away, i am wondering mightily what we have forgotten to do.  i know there will be something.  i have left my children’s last minute summer reading and last minute school preparations in the hands of my husband. he is the best.  i mean, truly, he can handle every bit of this kind of weekend. he doesn’t flinch.  but still... it is not a weekend for the faint of heart.  there is always some last minute something in need of attending.  this is how it works in real life.  at least this is how it works in our life.
but it's my mom's birthday.  her 70th birthday.  she doesn’t know it quite yet, but tomorrow several of us will gather to celebrate this celebrate her.  inconceivable as it is. how can i have a mother turning 70? she certainly doesn’t look it.  it seems only yesterday when she turned the corner into the backyard surprise of her 40th party.  i was 12 and it was the grandest event ever. my mother was 40 and beautiful and we all stood around in backyard grass, sipping soft drinks and asking how could it be possible?  and now she is 70 and we ask again. surely not, and heads shake.  
honestly, tonight i don’t have one theme or thread to weave this piece of writing tightly together.  only a sense of overwhelmed.  coming home will do that to a girl.  milestone birthdays and summer’s end will also do least to this girl. 
i am writing tonight from the summer porch bedroom of my parent’s house.  it was not my bedroom growing up.  but it feels like home.  bella and i are sleeping in a white iron bed piled high with amish quilts.  the ceiling is sloped and the wooden floor creaks with even the smallest step.  painted furniture and wicker and windows surround us. mother and daughter tucked under the eaves of this 100 year old house - a fairytale room for summer sleeping.  this is bella’s first trip to ohio.  her first trip with me back to a place i will always belong.  a place which holds my heart. 
my parents no longer live in my childhood home.  but even this downsized house is filled with memories and things from my past.  just this morning i needed a cotton ball and my mom pulled out a glass jar.  the same jar i have been taking cotton balls from since i was a little girl.  the rattle of glass lid sounded the same.  i can remember how careful i was when removing it as a child not much older than bella. there have been so many years between me and that glass jar full of cotton.  so many memories.  so much has happened.  so much changed. 
my own girlish bedroom is gone.  some other family now occupies that house overlooking a lake. time marches and takes with it our things and our places and sometimes our treasures.   i am fortunate enough to know where bits and pieces have gone.  my oak princess dresser, now painted pale pink, is shared by my two daughters. it holds their items.  the middle drawer still sticks, just as it did when i was a girl.  a certain finesse is required.  and when i wiggle it open to place pajamas and underthings and socks inside, i am 15 again -  at least for a minute.   the hope chest which rested under my bedroom window collecting my teen journals and little girl things, is now at the foot of my bed filled with baby items from my own brood.  recovered and repainted and used by bella to climb up into our high bed.  the antique wash stand has moved on to my oldest girl's room.  it now works as a nightstand holding her own books and bible and pictures.  i am thankful some of these pieces have traveled through life with me.  i am even more thankful for the memories having nothing to do with furniture, but with family. 
coming home is bittersweet - like most good things in life seem to be.  i’ve come home this trip full of romantic notions about my childhood.  memories deep in me.  maybe it is my forties which stirs the wanting to remember.  i didn’t feel like this when i returned home from college bringing books and a boyfriend. and i didn’t feel like this when i returned in my 30’s trailing tiny children and a husband.  but now in this mid-season, it feels like too much memory on a saturday night in ohio. 
perhaps it is the little girl asleep next to me, head resting on country print pillow.  the little girl traveled all the way from china to the heartland of ohio.  how did she, a girl with no home, end up snuggling warm against my legs in this nest of calico quilts.  i am overwhelmed with the wonder...mesmerized by the miracle. the pure sweetness of it all.  in all of my girlhood dreaming i could never have imagined this moment. 
and mother turns 70 and daughter nestles warm and i return home and it is life...beautiful and moving and mine.  tonight in ohio.

mom's garden

1 comment:

carolyn bradford said...

Jody....the tears fall...the memories are invading my mind of my own childhood home faster than I want them too!!! This was phenomenal!!! I'm wrapping my quilt around me that my great grandmother made and I'm never taking another moment for granted!