Friday, June 22, 2007
Miles and Memories, Far and Wide
Timewarp - that's what the past six days since I left Pennsylvania, have felt like.

The visit began with a visit to my MIL's little apartment, where she lives in Assisted Living. Three very quick days there, with our daughter Leslie, who hadn't seen her grandmother in eight years. It was a sweet reunion, and a sad goodbye. Seeing my MIL melt into her son as they hugged goodbye makes a lump in my throat. Oh, that we would all say goodbye with the thought that we might not see each other again. We'd hug a little longer, a little closer, as they did.

After dropping Don and Leslie off at the Denver airport, I started out on my solo adventure. We've been coming to Colorado for 26 years, from all different parts of the country, but I've pretty much managed to push most of the driving off on Don. Leaving the airport, I headed out on 1-70 East, leaving civilization behind. Three hours later I arrived at my 82 year old father's little apartment where he moved last year. We talked til our throats were dry. Funny how a teenage girl grows up avoiding anything that resembles a conversation, then she drives across the country just to stay up late talking to him. I heard such stories of his younger years, courting my mother, raising our family. I went golfing with him one day of my visit, but I didn't play. I just watched. He's been playing golf for 30 years and I've never seen him swing a club. On the course we ran into four of his golf buddies, and it was sweet fun to watch them and listen to their conversations. He'd won $60 as a golfing prize, and spent the money to buy an inflatable bed, new 300 count sheets and a new pillow just to make a bed for my visit. I woke up my last morning there, to see him cooking me "big breakfast", edible love. Ham, grits, eggs, biscuits, and juice. I hugged him goodbye, climbed into my rental car, and headed out in search of I-70, this time going west.

As I drove my thoughts wandered between thinking of him, dwelling on the thought that my sister, Barb and I call him "Daddy". None of our brothers do, but we always have. I tried to store up the memory of how white his hair is, what little there is of it. How his eyebrows arch, and how dark his eyes are when he takes off his glasses. When you see each other once a year, you soak it in pretty deep, to pull it up later.

Driving across Kansas, and eastern Colorado, I passed antelope, farming equipment harvesting the wheat Daddy had told me was ready. I turned the radio on, hit "seek" and sang outloud to country music, stopping only for another tank of gas, a diet coke and a snickers. My feelings kept wandering between thoughts of growing up, new "pictures" of my father after our time together, what it felt like to drive down the highway all by myself, and the realization that I'd never felt so much like a country girl. Which I'm not. But it sure did feel like it as I sang with Lee Greenwood, Shania Twain, and others. There's nothing quite as much fun as singing outloud in the car when you're all by yourself!

Next stop, after I hit Denver, drove back past the airport, across downtown, was into the area my mother lives. Lanes of traffic were merging like crazy, and I'm proud to say I only made two wrong turns, in my mother's neighborhood. Then an evening with two of my brothers, who I haven't seen in two years. Just hearing their voices, watching them, seeing the years that are creeping onto their faces, one's put on weight, one's thin. We went out to dinner, but I was full just on the company around the table.

Later Mom and I stayed up way too late, talking the talk that you rarely have time for. I was thankful this morning that she likes to sleep in. Today was spent eating hamburgers that went down easy, but felt like bricks much of the day, then an hour or so at Barnes and Noble, in the writing section. Dinner with another brother and his son, taking photos to capture how much we've grown and changed. Driving back and forth across the town I'd grown up in, surprised at how much I recalled after all these years away.

So tomorrow Bev and Judy's Excellent Adventure begins in earnest. We head out on 1-70 West, this time heading to Mandy's wedding. I've never driven through the mountains with my mom, and expect it to be such fun. We can't wait to get there, and join Barb, Rob and the rest of the family.

If Mom falls asleep somewhere along the drive, I expect I'll turn the radio on again, and sing along, as thoughts of these days full of precious kodak moments rattle around my head.

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  posted at 12:28 AM

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    Girl Raised in the South

    I have a deep, abiding love for full octane coffee, sewing, knitting, quilting, reading, cooking, gardening, God and my family - not in that order.

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