Saturday, April 27, 2019

The journey has begun

We started off with two full days in Key West. The humidity was a bit much, but Loren loved it every bit as much as do I. We enjoyed the flora, and kidnapped my sister June to take her North.  Yesterday we met up with a cousin I haven't seen since we were children. Kathy (Sharp) Wilkins' Great Grandma and my grandmother were sisters. We met she and her husband Al in Marathon. Then we were off to St. Augustine, where I am writing now.

My son's father-in-law owns a lovely marina where we are staying in a condo overlooking at least 200 yachts and sailboats. I looked out over the marina from my bed last night, watching the water sparkle around the tall masted boats.

Today we heard about pirates and ate at the Florida Cracker (which is named after the sound of a cracking whip). We learned about Ponce De Leon and a man named Flagler. Then, we shopped. Now if you are a Loxley girl or know of one, you realize that shopping is in the blood. Mom was a shopper out of sight!!! So when June and I get together, it is more of the same.

Poor Loren has had to deal with all of the old stories and tales of the past, a past on Neff Road. All siblings should be as close as the two of us. Thank goodness Loren gets it. The years melt away, and we are embraced once more by our love of the farm and of our family. Yes, we are on our way.

Tomorrow we leave for Savannah. Loren will get another look at the old South. And, again, the Loxley girls will shop. Next stop will be to visit our other sister Peg in Virginia. Finally on Tuesday, we tackle the last leg of the trip.

On Friday we will come into Greenville to visit with family. It is indeed a precious time for us. I want to show Loren around on our first day. On Saturday we will hope to see as many of you as possible at the Turtle Creek Country Club from 1-5. It is the easiest way to see many. And, if it is like the last time, old friends will find other old friends and pick up where they left off. One difference this year is that June is coming with us. I know she will be happy to see old friends and once more plant her feet on Neff Road. Please come.

This foot planting on Neff Road is not easy for us. We love that farm. It not only holds our memories; it also holds our hearts.

I will try to keep up my column while we are gone. Right now I am in need of a long nap!!! Be safe. Be happy. See you soon. The journey has begun.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

More precious than diamonds

Take me home, Country Road. To the place I was born. The place that holds my heart, my roots, my past. Well, really I just lied, because Oregon holds my heart and the roots of my grandchildren. I have been here since 1978.

I remember when I was newly married and living in Wisconsin raising two small children, we found that every holiday was spent on the road going back to the farm. I resented not having the holidays in my own home. Then when we moved to Wisconsin, we found that our big trips were those back to Ohio. In Oregon, we found our trips were few. My roots called me home by way of guilt. I felt I had to go home. Yep, guilt is a mighty power that grabs you by the suitcase and points east.

Over the last couple of decades, I have lost many people. Most of them have been family. Aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors and friends who were as close as family. I know I don't have to explain this as you have found this to be true. We cannot go back and add to those times we missed. And, I mourn those times when I could have sat with all of these people, knowing the questions I would ask now. Absorbing their essence and tucking it away for when I would no longer have them with me.

I love hearing from you who also live away from home. It feels rather like making a quilt with all the threads that tie us together. The patches of lives woven by joy, sadness, faith, love. So many of us passed by one another and never knew it. Now we can be in touch and feel as though we have always known one another. We can reminisce about church, county fair, Bible school, driving the circle in Greenville on a Saturday night and, sometimes, tobacco fields.

Growing up, I was the youngest in my family. Hanging out with older people was normal to me. Now as one of those older people, I realize what my visits meant. I realize how loved ones watched over me and followed my life. Perhaps I am a better person now for understanding the gifts of love and recognition. Maybe I can pass on an understanding of the fragility of life and write about the past for those 'young'uns' who will someday, many years down the road, understand how I feel now.

Yes, I am going home. A suitcase is packed. Summer clothing for Key West and St. Augustine then layers and sweaters as we meander our way north. When I asked the twins what they wanted me to bring back, the combined answers were shells, crystals, diamonds and toys....in that order. Hm. I intend to come back with stories more precious than diamonds. I will absorb every bit of the earth, the sky, the towns and the feelings I left behind. Watch out, Neff Road! We are on our way. See you all May 4 from 1-5pm at Turtle Creek Country Club.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Going home once more

The old trunk holds photo stacked on photo from past generations of family members. In some relative's hand, names have been written; however, way too many have nothing on the back to tell me those pieces of my past. A deer is leaping. A child stands next to an elderly woman. A fresh caught of fish is on display for all posterity. Except, who caught them? Ah, pictures. They tell a story and too often just make me curious. Stack upon stack.

I cannot go home without thinking of the way Greenville was when I was a child. The fountain in the park was a place I padded around with water spraying into my face. The swinging bridge scared the bijibbers out of me. There was an old slide that I swear was a mile high. We watched fireworks at the park and swam in the pool.

Memories. It is funny how we capture them in bits and pieces when at the time we think they will remain intact forever. But life does muddle things. We pile up memories like bales stored in the barn. We toss them in and stack them. We can climb up them, but still many are buried beneath. Remove one and a flood pours in.

I can still feel my hand in Mom's as we walked past the hat shop and the bakery. We shopped at the Palace and cruised the candy counter at Murphy's 5 and 10. A burger and fries at the Hamburger Shop and maybe, just maybe, a phosphate at the corner drug store. I didn't get to Maid Rite until I was a teenager. And, the last time I was there was with my cousin Gene who is now gone. My sisters' registered their dishes at Gray's Jewelers across from the Palace. Dad looked at men's clothing at Fourman's. We saw entertainment at Memorial Hall and loved to visit the old library.

There is so much I want to show Loren on this trip home. We can't do it all.  This is a long trip with a purpose, squeezing in the bits and pieces as we go. We are meeting everyone who will come on May 4 at Turtle Creek Country Club between 1-5, because we cannot possibly get around to see everyone. You are my memories. You are the people who were part of that history that lies within the old trunk. You are my readers whom I truly appreciate. For those of you who have not lived away from your stomping grounds, you might not realize how dear you are to the people who have moved away.

Greenville is one of my hometowns. Gettysburg was my neighboring town. Pitsburg was my school town. Arcanum, well, Arcanum is a lot of memories and probably my sweetest hometown. The memories are stacked, the pictures taken from the trunk. Yes, we are going home. Home to you.