The second and more important is that where I am now is the driving force behind this post. My Nana, who is the quintessential southern grandmother and in whom my extended family's bonds are cemented, had to move into assisted living just about a year ago. After Granddaddy's passing her seemingly endless strength and health began to fail until she required help from professionals in the medical field around the clock. That's just a clinical way to say Nana went downhill fast because typing the latter makes me incredibly sad.
Their house, the home in which all of us grew up...my aunts and uncles and brothers and cousins and me...was left empty, save for their belongings and the wealth of memories and laughter that I've discovered in the last week can still be heard if one is inclined to listen.
I've moved into what was once my Uncle Fred's room, filled it with the stuff that is my stuff, that which I prefer to see every day in lieu of tucking it away in a locker on the boulevard. The bed is almost made, left loosely accessible for the cat who at least for now finds her comfort in tunneling among the pillows.
I'd never slept in this room prior, always favoring my Aunt Rah's old room when I came to spend the night. I might have chosen her room now, but the old furniture is still in place there and when I walk in I am again 5. 10. 11, 17, 35. Memories of so many things, of giggling late into the night with my cousins, of childhood and guidance and growing up flood my heart causing the corners of my mouth to reach for the sky.
I laid that sun on Rah's bed when I first brought it in, thinking to find its perfect spot on my wall later. Instead I've left it, deciding that it reflects the spirit of the room in a way that my words cannot.
I like this arrangement better. Taking care of the brick and mortar that housed so much life and love from a new perspective in a space with which I am not all too familiar somehow makes it novel, like a story that you can't put down until you have discovered how it ends.
My brother and I once had a pancake eating contest in this breakfast nook. Granddaddy chuckled over his coffee at the idea of my agreeing to the challenge, but I think in hindsight his amusement was more at Mark's deviously innocent way of getting Nana to make him as many pancakes as he wanted. She would have done so anyway, of course, but Mark was never one to ask for things from which only he would benefit.
He won the pancake challenge by the slight margin of 18 to 3.
That is but one of a hundred memories that come to mind when I walk through our Nana's kitchen, and each brings with it an almost overwhelming awareness of love.
I could summarize the curves in life to be a long and winding road, claim that where we've been makes us who we are, say that the path less traveled is the one I have chosen...but isn't that true for each of us? When all is said and done only you can fill your shoes.
Whether traveling the journey or learning from it, the curves are not, by design, easy. They are the things that shape us, sometimes the sharp right turns that break us. Living and breathing here in these rooms, I more clearly understand and appreciate the example of Faith I've been blessed to have for the last 41 years. It is the foundation of my own choice to believe in the knowing that one day, beyond all heartache and trial, the family I love will together fill the halls of another home in Heaven.
For now I am here in a here that I love.