They say there is no going back, not in time or otherwise, yet we all feel that pull to see it as we once did, whatever that it might be. Perhaps the core of this is best expressed in Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, in Act III, during that iconic graveyard scene when the dead speak.
EMILY: But, Mother Gibbs, one can go back; one can go back there again . . . into living. I feel it. I know it. Why just then for a moment I was thinking about . . . about the farm . . . and for a minute I was there, and my baby was on my lap as plain as day.
MRS. GIBBS: Yes, of course you can.
EMILY: I can go back there and live all those days over again . . . why not?
MRS. GIBBS: All I can say is, Emily, don’t.
Warnings aside, we did just venture back to an ancestral place, one that will always have a place in my heart, and although I did discover how powerful the draw to return to one’s past can be, the present is always available, and exactly that, a gift.
The day after my mother passed I found myself searching for her. Perhaps this is normal. Perhaps even the first stage of grief. All I know is I could not get enough of her. Every dusty photo became a treasure I was seeing for the first time. Even braving the traffic from New Jersey through Manhattan, over the Brooklyn Bridge and past Prospect Park, to stand on these steps, the very ones my mother skipped up and down, the steps her many beaus walked, and finally through this doorway went my father. This home, 1510 on Albemarle Road, that housed my great-grand parents and their ten, then my grandparents and their eight, a house where I brought two of my own for visits. A place to celebrate Easter and Thanksgiving and Christmas. Where my grandfather’s casket was brought and the house filled with condolences. The house my grandmother packed up and said goodbye to, and yet I found myself here, sensing the shadow of generations, of a mother who I miss.
Sometimes you just need to get away, float into the mist, and let yourself rediscover exactly why you are here, today, on this swirling planet. #Blessed. #Grateful. I had time enough to rest, restore, and rejuvenate in this magical place.
Here on the Northeast coast the humidity level is dropping as fast as the overnight temperature. But before the memory of summer fades away, I will savor those vacation days of August, when nothing stopped our early morning swims or twilight strolls around the lake.
Perhaps even more importantly than those delicious moments was the gathering of extended family, from our Grand Matriarch calling for peace in the world to our sweet teen on the edge of high school, and all the rest of us in-between with Big Birthdays looming, careers starting or retirement celebrated, all of us facing change. But here, with the backdrop of a grand hotel, we stopped for a brief interlude, and took the time to laugh at ourselves and with each other.
Is it me or did 2011 sweep by all in a flash? A whirlwind year! But today, on the eve of a new year, I can’t help but look back and linger on all my favorite days, for after all, “Nature’s first green is gold/Her hardest hue to hold” (Frost).
Tis the Season for gift-giving, so naturally I have some advice ! Although I have no intention of contradicting last year’s post The Art of Giving this year’s suggestions are a bit different. You see, these gifts can’t be bought in a store or wrapped in shiny paper, instead they are all experiential. It is my belief that experience is the best gift of all, and perhaps the most important…
Also, this year I grouped my gift-giving ideas in age groups, so you can read with your particular family and friends’ needs in mind.