for the three

 

I packed up my things,

along with my talismans from Mama, Daddy, Aunt Wease–for courage

and peace, I hoped

and drove the same road I’ve traveled for over forty years

to one of the houses that built me

to say goodbye

one more time

As I drove through Hawkinsville and saw the 45

mph

sign

I heard Mama say, “They’ll get you through here.

Watch your speed.”

I smiled and drove on over the bridge,

the long one that made her nervous,

the one that, as we crossed one time, she told me

about her fear of bridges

I always think of her when I cross it

Then down the Golden Isles Parkway

past the sign for Bembry Road–one day maybe I’ll have a

grandchild with that name

I always say how much I like it, and they all agree

Then the turn and Congo Lane

I always looked for the gorillas when I was little

and sometimes

I still do

And then

The house.

As I entered with the key left by the realtor,

I could smell

oh that smell

Her scent still lingers

Even now, four years after she left us

I wish I could bottle the smell and carry it forever

and pull it out for special occasions like she did with her silver

I wandered from room to room,

remembering the wall that was once full of clocks

how proud she was to finally have that sun room

the CB radio room that was later a lovely sitting room

after he died

The spot where Toogie their Chihuahua ate

or hid, I could never be sure

The bookcase behind the door where she kept toys for my littles

The bedroom where she had Lucy and Ricky beds

and where I took the best nap I’ve ever had–

first time Mama kind of tired, you know

and where the lidded vase sat–

I was convinced it held ashes, but no

The pink bathroom I rarely went into

and the black and white tiled bathroom, so fancy

with the dimmer light that seemed magical

and still does

Cooter tried it out as I once did, fascinated,

“Look it’s a storm,” he said, turning it up and down

And the bedroom where she took her last breath, I quietly

bowed my head

And the tears flowed

I grew up here, played here, spent nights staying up after having ice cream

and playing Go Fish

It was where I could go and be the only, and for a day or two

that was just fine

It was where I visited with college friends,

in what Daddy and I lovingly called,

“One of the finest homes in that there Eastman, Georgia”

And now it looked old and tired and weepy,

just as I was

The voices echoed off the walls and the little girl I was

peeked around the corners

Cooter ran in the formal living room and I stood there,

laughing through the tears

I had no memories of this room without him.

We were not allowed in there as children, but him–

she let him run and tackle the pillow from the couch she held in her lap

and she laughed with joy

as I stared and thought, “Who are you?”

and it was as it should be.

 

We locked the door and drove away,

leaving behind the ghosts and memories of growing up

and returning as an adult and the roles reversing

and suddenly I was caring for her…..

and now it was time for someone else to make their own stories there

 

As I sat down to sign my name–oh how I’ve come to loathe doing that

It once felt so grown up to sign my name in full, and now

Now I hate what it usually means

Someone, something I have to let go

 

I touched the remembrances of Mama and Daddy, of her–

the one who loved this house

and felt safe there right up to her last breath–

oh please, I hope that is so–

and yet, when I looked down and took a deep breath, it was there

in what I saw

that my heart steadied and I didn’t feel

alone

Three other signatures, already there, waiting on me

to join them

The three that came behind me, yet have always

walked alongside

Those three names, typed yes,

but then handwritten with care by each one

First Sister, then Mess Cat, then Bubba

and I felt steadied

The pen didn’t wobble and neither did my voice

For as much as we may have bickered and picked

and teased

all those years ago, or last decade, or year, or month, or week

It turns out Mama was right–

and we are “all really very wonderful, I’m sure”

And together we stand strong

and can do what life requires next of us

No matter what blows our way

For in them, I see the lines of faces of loved ones gone

and I hear the echo of their words

and feel the dust of their love in the hugs

or waves from the back porch

In that moment the four were one

and for that, I am thankful

There is strength in numbers, yes

but there is something even stronger than that

in love

 

My last time pulling into this drive.
My last time pulling into this drive.

 

My Daddy built this handrail years ago.  Like anything he did, it is strong and has weathered the years well.
My Daddy built this handrail years ago. Like anything he did, it is strong and has weathered the years well. That door always made me happy because I knew I would get a hug and hands cupping my face as soon as I knocked, and her looking me in the eye, oohing over seeing me. Each and every time.
The lovely stained glass light over the table where I had my first cup of coffee, lightened with PET milk.  Which always seemed extra special.
The lovely stained glass light over the table where I had my first cup of coffee, lightened with PET milk. Which always seemed extra special.

 

I had forgotten about these beauties.  If I had had a screwdriver on me, the two she had in her bedrooms would have come home with me.  I adore these.
I had forgotten about these beauties. If I had had a screwdriver on me, the two she had in her bedrooms would have come home with me. I adore these.
The black and white magical bathroom. Fancy.  I loved this room.  Always.
The black and white magical bathroom. Fancy. I loved this room. Always.

 

Cooter creating the "storm" turning the dimmer up and down.  Yeah.  I let him.  For a minute or two.  I used to do the same thing when I was his age.
Cooter creating the “storm” turning the dimmer up and down. Yeah. I let him. For a minute or two. I used to do the same thing when I was his age.
I spent many a day visiting in this room, laughing over shared stories, listening to tales of the past, and smelling the delicious meal my Aunt and Uncle fixed for us.  I never sat in this house and felt less than special.
I spent many a day visiting in this room, laughing over shared stories, listening to tales of the past, and smelling the delicious meals my Aunt and Uncle fixed for us. I never sat in this house and felt less than special.
Cooter holding the sketch drawing of the house that was done in 1976.  I am thankful that I have this art to remember this precious home and the love freely given there.
Cooter holding the sketch drawing of the house that was done in 1976. I am thankful that I have this art to remember this precious home and the love freely given there.

 

Love Ya, Dear–remembering her

 

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