Thursday, July 1, 2010

Same Book. Different Chapter.


Just after our wedding, I stashed my cedar chest full of my belongings at my parents’ house in Kansas, and said we'd be back from California in a year or so.

HOB and I waved goodbye from the windows of the '69 Skylark his grandmother had given to us and took off.

That was 29 years ago.

We really had intended to go back, but just like Frost and his two roads, way led on to way, and we stayed in California, far from our families, to make our life together.

Through the years I’ve gone back for visits, and at first those visits were like returning to the chapters of a book I knew and loved. Not too much changed. Things remained steady. My parents, my best friend, my sister and her family were all there in their familiar homes.

Then there were changes.

My parents moved into town.

My nieces and nephews grew up.

My best friend had children and they grew up.

My father died and I grew up.


No longer did I take the steady landscape of my childhood for granted.


Still, when I went back, I went home. My parents’ house in town had been my grandparents’ house. It was the house with the screen door my grandfather had hung. It was the house where I was surrounded by my past. For more than 40 years it had been the house I was welcomed in every time I entered.

A few months ago my mom moved out of that house and in to an assisted living facility in a nearby town. My sisters packed up the house, divided the possessions and moved everything, including that cedar chest, out. The house sold. For the first time in my life, I won’t go to that familiar house when I go there. There’s not even a reason to go back to that little town I grew up near.

I’ll see my best friend, E, just like I always have, but as many of my regular readers know, things have changed in her life too. I’ll visit with her, but the visit this time will be different.


Is it a sense of loss I feel or just a sense of change? After all, I am so lucky to still have my mother at 87 years of age. I am glad she is in a place where she is taken care of and where she is happy.

And maybe my best friend and I won’t be able to go and do the things we normally do, but I am blessed to have time with her, to talk to her, to be there for her when she needs me.


In the past when I went back to my childhood home and family, it was often with the idea that I would draw strength from those familiar faces and places.

Now I see that perhaps my role in this story is to stop looking to be supported, and start using my inner strength to support others.


So, as most of you are reading this, I am on an airplane, heading back to Kansas. I am going back to open up the book again. Some of the chapters will be the same, but others will be different. It’s time to stop longing for the settings and characters I remember from childhood and embrace all that exists in front of me now.


And who knows? I might even find that the protagonist of the story is a whole lot stronger than I ever thought she could be.


59 comments:

Brian Miller said...

hope you have a great trip...intersting how our roles change as we get older and the chapters start piling up...

Ms. Anthropy said...

Be safe, Betty and you can always look back and remember how it was, even if it has changed. As long a you have the memories.

Kathie @ Just a Happy Housewife said...

may it be a wonderful trip in unexpected ways for you!

Pauline said...

This made me ache - and have hope at the same time. We seem to be on similar paths at the moment, moving from self to self. Safe journey and happy endings.

Thanks for stopping by my site to read and comment.

Piedmont Writer said...

I'm going home myself this weekend for the first time in 3 years. My old home was sold so there's no going back and my relatives are older as well. Uncle Jake just turned 90, Auntie Elsie 93. I can't wait to see them, but am scared. Who will I find there?

Love to you Betty on your trip. Thank you for a beautiful post.

Ca88andra said...

Beautifully written. We don't often want things to change, but that's just how life is. It's how we deal with the changes and the bumps on the road that makes us who we are. Hope you have a lovely time.

Madi and Mom said...

BB God bless you as you visit your home state. What a touching post.

Give Mom a hug from us. I hope you and E have a visit full of quality time and many good memories.

The Road not Taken is one of my favorite poems.....
Madi and Mom

Joey @ Big Teeth and Clouds said...

My parents sold our family home this past fall. I still dream that they live there. I think those places are always a part of us. It's a good thing.

Hilary said...

I suspect you're right about that protagonist Wishing you continued strength.

Turn the page..

Old Kitty said...

Oh BB!!! I hope these memories sustain you as you head back to Kansas. I so agree that the protagonist in your story will return a stronger person because she always was deep down but never really knew it. :-)

Now she sparkles!

take care
x

Mommy on the Spot said...

What a bittersweet post! It is hard to come to terms with the changes, especially our changing roles. I'll be sending you positive thoughts!

Travel safely!

Alissa said...

We moved around a few times when I was growing up so I never really had the sense of one particular place as being home, except maybe my grandmother's house, which she had lived in forever. Though she ended up moving as well.

Have a nice trip!

Joe Cap said...

My parents sold the house I grew up in quite some time ago, so now when I go back to California to visit the feelings are not so bad.
My dad is no longer alive, but my mom is fine at 80 years old, and she is living in a different house.
I know exactly what you are feeling.
Be safe, come back to us.

Aging Mommy said...

Betty I hope you have a good trip and I know you are every bit as strong as you think you need to be.

Beautiful post. My parents moved home and city many years ago and recently moved again to a house I have yet to see, so for a long time going "home" has meant going to unfamiliar territory with very little other than a few trinkets and keepsakes to remind me of my childhood years. It does feel very different I agree. But life is about change, and moving on, and growing and adapting with those changes.

Betty Manousos:cutand-dry.blogspot.com said...

Hope you have a great trip, Betty!
I know exactly what you mean. I've experienced it quite some time ago.

Safe travels and
Big hugs!
~B xx

The Empress said...

I remember just this very same feeling, when we moved my mother to an assisted livig center. I could almost hear the ghostly voices of childhood past. It was so sad to me....

Jingle said...

great,
it helps you become a well round person by moving around...
lovely writing.
Happy Thursday!

Talli Roland said...

Have a good trip back home. I always find it so strange, going home. Everything has changed yet it's all still the same...

Sara said...

Sigh.

Just today, my sister emailed me photos of the house I spent my first 9 years in. To put it nicely, it hasn't been taken care of. At all. My memories of it - including the garden my dad made and my mom's flower bed - are nothing like today's version of it. Sigh.

liz said...

Ooh, Betty! Have a good trip and I hope you find what you are looking for.

Noelle said...

This post was perfect...and beautiful...and made me all teary eyed.

Enjoy your trip...even the new chapters!

Ann said...

It's been years since I've been able to go back to the house that I grew up in. I miss being able to walk through the door and see my dad sitting there. I hope you have a good trip.

Jimmy said...

Funny how our lifes path changes everything, I completely understand what you are saying about being away from home but looking for the same things you had so to say while you were there, I felt the same way when I found that my Grannys house was sold and now was a rental I can't even drive down that street anymore.

I have been away from my home in South Carolina longer than I actually lived there but it will always be home.

cake said...

as strange as this may sound, i had a dream about you last night! since i don't know you at all, i guess it is safe to say it wasn't really about YOU...and, i am of the persuasion that all the characters in our dreams represent some aspect of ourselves.

still though...odd.

hope your trip is good, and what you need it to be.

Theresa Milstein said...

I hope you have a good trip, and that it's easier than you think it will be. Sometimes it's hard to go home.

My husband and I have a few boxes in my in laws' basement. We put them there before our last move, thinking we'd move to a bigger place and then retrieve them. It hasn't happened yet.

TS Hendrik said...

Sweet and sad. I hope you have a good trip.

Pat Tillett said...

Bittersweet!
That plane is a time machine...

baygirl32 said...

Have a good, safe trip.

Daisy said...

There is nothing and no one left in the place where I grew up either. It no longer seems like home at all. It's funny how your idea of what home is changes over the years, at least, it has for me. Hugs to you, Betty.

Mamma has spoken said...

Hope your story has a happy ending to it. Have a great trip home!

Joanna Jenkins said...

Oh Betty, I can so relate to your post. I moved to California 22 years ago for a 3 year job assignment-- I never went back east to live again.

That shift in support can be a slipper slope sometimes. I'm cheering you on and hoping the transition is a smooth one for you.

Safe travels and enjoy your time away.
jj

Kazzy said...

Have an awesome trip. My parents moved around here and there, so I have no real attachment to their current home. I am not sure of that is a good thing or not.

Jerry said...

A few year ago I was within driving distance of Antlers, Oklahoma where my grandparents had lived before they died. I elected to take the side trip. I wanted to see their old house with the massive front porch, and the old hickory tree where my grandfather had put in a rope swing for us....and then that dreaded storm cellar off to the side of the front yard. I even envisioned parking the car and walking the half mile my sister and I used to walk to the country store to get a Yahoo Chocolate drink.

I arrived filled with nostalgia and drove down grandma's street....and the house was gone...it was a parking lot for a shopping strip. The hickory tree, the cellar was gone. Quickly driving, the country store was no longer in existence. I felt such a horrid sense of loss for days afterward. Change.

Yes, I am driving to Zion, Cedar Breaks, and Bryce canyon during my sojourn to the wild west.

Miriam in KS said...

I think I just heard your plane fly over! Have a great visit and soak up everything you can while you are here.

Pat said...

This truly is bittersweet. I hope you have a good trip. Remember, nothing stays the same. Memories are good, but change is good too. Hope your mother is doing okay.

Susan said...

I have always found you to be a person of strength and positive thinking. I suspect people there have been drawing strength from you for a long time as I have. I hope you have a wonderful time with your mom and E. You are going there with the best outlook! I will be thinking of you!

The Retired One said...

It is true when they say "you can't ever go home again"...time progresses and changes everything.
You are right to focus on the present and the future and create new happiness for yourself.

Ally said...

Have a safe trip. It's interesting, when I go to visit my mom at our old house, I always say "home" ... This is so sad to me, I know it's not meant to be, but you know how sappy I am. I've thought about this for some time myself - the idea of eventually my mom selling her house. I'm not good with change, Betty.

Enjoy your weekend. PS Today's blog mentions you, as promised I blogged about newspapers :0)

FourthGradeNothing.com

Cheeseboy said...

I can feel the love of your mother just gleaming out of this post. How awesome that she is still alive and you are still so close.

Leanne said...

Have a safe trip, Betty. I hope that this next chapter of your time there will prove to be as special as the past have been . . . thinking of you (and E) and all of your visits.

Lourie said...

My mom sold the house I grew up in 16 years ago this October. I don't remember it being a big deal. However, when my Grandmother died and her house sold, that was a totally different story. But like you said, same book different chapter. It's moving forward and what adventure it will be!

Talei said...

Oh I love Robert Frost's 'Two roads' ...I took the one less travelled as well. Have not lived in my home country NZ for over 20years!!

Its amazing though I still call it home when I get on the plane to visit.

Lovely post and its so great that you have your mum and best friend to share good times with when you do get home.

Happy Friday to you too. And I do have a lovely butterfly award for you on my blog! ;)

Mr. Stupid said...

Its hard to accept most changes in our lives. Hope you have a great trip...:)

Tabor said...

I have taken this journey (several times) as has my husband. LIfe is like the wind at a picnic. It will take that quilt and flip everything over and when some of it spills you are so shocked. Peace on your journey.

Nat said...

A very poignant post! I hope you have a good trip, and great times with those close to you.

tori said...

beautifully said. I hope you have a wonderful trip!

Marlene said...

Have a fantastic trip.

Our family home sold the year after my parents divorced (I was an adult, on my own by then.)

I miss the family home. I drive by it every now and then when I visit the old country. *sigh*

Shan said...

I hope your visit is soothing, reassuring and relaxing... even if you'll be staying in new places.

Hugs (and many good wishes for E, of course).

Feeling Just Right said...

Dearest Betty,

I got goose-flesh as I read this. I am so very proud of you. The protagonist surely has magical strength that will leave her in awe.

I am sorry about E, though I do not know what happened. Scratching my memory. I have been a regular reader, haven't I?

You go and do all the absolutely fabulous stuff you will. When you need support, we'll be here.

A love of love and hugs.

notesfromnadir said...

I have experienced this all too recently!

But as the Dalai Lama said, "Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend--or a meaningful day."

Have a meaningful day! :)

Donna B said...

Awesome post. I can relate. Very touching.

Lee said...

I can relate, I think. Moving away from home has been hard, even at 43 years old. I wonder what it will be like, to be away, esp. when my parents decide to move. Strange.

Venassa said...

Change is scary. It's the same for me.. back home just isn't the place it used to be. Hope you enjoy your trip!
(Ps, I got my bell yesteday, and I love it! Thanks so much)

Joanna Jenkins said...

PS Stopping back to say congrats on HIlary's POTW mention.
Chers,
jj

slommler said...

Where our loved ones are...there is home. Change is hard on us all. We want to hang on to our memories...change is like a clanging bell sometimes...quite jarring.
Enjoy your trip and hope your changes are more like a melodic wind chime. Peaceful and loving!
Congrats on your POTW
Hugs
SueAnn

ellen abbott said...

houses contain so much of us.

Land of shimp said...

I agree with you, it's a sense of change. After all, in a weird way loss is almost a good thing. To lose something, you had have had it in your life to lose.

I'm glad you had a home you love and could visit. I'm sorry things have changed, but at least there are the good memories and those you get to keep. Thank you for sharing some of them with us.

Daryl said...

Travel safe ... over from Hilary's to say congrats on the POTW mention!

gaelikaa said...

The journey of life - moving on and moving up. Great post!

Coming over from Hilary's. Congratulations on POTW mention.