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A Trip Down Memory Lane! Memorial Day 2014

houseonfifthMemorial Day, May 26, 2014 and I’m planning to spend the day with my mother, Lois Marion.  I called her to inquire if she was going to be with any of my other sisters for the day and if not, “let’s get together.”  Her comment “of course, I’d love for you to come over” fell spontaneously from her lips.  My husband Naser was not feeling well enough to go so I planned to spend a little time with her…just Mama and me.

As is my usual custom when arriving in my hometown located a mere 30 minutes from our home, I felt a need to drive by our first home “the little house on Fifth Street.”  I don’t know why it holds such an attraction for me but my usual practice is to take a swing down Hillsboro Street and view my little Grandmother’s home which is now owned by her sister’s great-great-granddaughter, then on past the treasured home of my past then finally to Mama’s.  As my first two books relate, I have many, many memories of this treasured little house since it was the first purchased home of my parents and holds many sweet times in my mind and heart.  The new owners (I say new but in reality, the new owners have owned the home for over 47 years.  Amazing staying power in this day and time!)  Mama and I had spoken of the desire to one day approach the owners and request a tour of her treasured little home but it had never come to pass to date.  As I drove by and gazed at the lovely white home with it’s beautiful fenced in yard, the luxuriant green grass and it’s totally “cared for and loved appearance” I suddenly felt a tug at my heart to stop and ask the question.  “May I bring my mother over later this afternoon for a tour?”

The young man in the yard called to his wife Melissa and asked “Honey, is it okay for them to come over this afternoon?”  Melissa arrived at the door and said it would be fine but that she and her husband were on their way to Gainesville to take in a movie and lunch “but Mama will be here after 2:00 this afternoon.  I’m sure she would love to show ya’ll around” she offered.  I was giddy with excitement since I didn’t plan to tell Mama of this little excursion; I wanted to surprise her.  I arranged to meet with Gail who lives with her daughter and family in my childhood home around 2:00 and asked my Mama “well, where do you want to eat lunch?”

She had last week suffered a little fender-bender in her car and has been experiencing weakness and just an overall run down feeling since her ordeal.  She wasn’t hurt (just her pride) in the accident but she felt extremely tired and listless.  I knew she was worried about her new car and the fact that she made an error in judgment in the accident and was feeling very anxious about the whole thing.  It only banged up her car door but she treasured her car and we are all extremely pleased she is for the most part as attentive and careful a driver as she is—especially at almost 85 years old.   Alas, accidents do happen.

She told me “I would like to go out to my mother and father’s gravesites but I’m not sure I’m strong enough to go out to lunch too.”  This somewhat surprised me since she is usually “Johnny on the spot” to experience a meal out.  I told her we could pick up a sandwich on the way out or we can go somewhere quick and sit down to have our meal.  “I don’t want to eat on the run so let’s just go down to Wendy’s and share a sandwich.”  Great…no problem…a decision made!

We shared a meal at the local Wendy’s and she got her favored Frostie then continued on up to White Springs where her mother and father are interred.  She doesn’t like to go alone to the cemetery so any chance I can take her I try to do so—this was the day.  It’s always sentimental when we visit the resting places of our loved ones, Grandmother Lois Annie, Granddaddy D.N. and my father, Charles Henry as well.  As my Daddy said in his lifetime, “we need to know where our ancestors are, who they were and how they lived.”  On the day my Grandmother was laid to rest in 1996, my Daddy piled all his cubs (my sisters and myself) into his car with Mama and we toured the countryside and cemeteries where he related his ancestors and why we needed to know where they were.  I have always taken that to heart, it’s important to honor our loved ones’ final resting places; I try to honor when I can.  What a fitting day for this – Memorial Day.

As we were leaving the cemetery in White Springs, I pulled over and made a call careful not to let her know to whom I was speaking nor what I had planned.  “Hey…we’re on the way, we’ll be there in about twenty minutes” I spoke into my phone.  Mama had no idea to whom I was speaking.  I had told her I had a small surprise but didn’t let on any further details.

We drove back into Lake City and arrived at my “little house on Fifth Street.”  When I pulled into the driveway, she turned to me and said “Oh…are we going in?”  I replied “Why yes, Mama, this is the day you are going to visit your first little house!”  She slowly got out of the car and we proceeded to the front door.  I could tell she was taking in all she could visualize in our walk to the front door so we took a leisurely stroll to the entrance and knocked.

Our friend, Gail, owner of the home and former classmate of mine in high school arrived at the front door and beckoned us inside.  Her parents had purchased the home so many years ago, her widowed mother had resided with Gail and family, then Gail’s daughter and son-in-law raised their own children in the same abode.  She appeared to be as excited to show us their home as we were to view it.  We were graciously ushered inside and she proceeded to show us each and every room.

In each room, Mama and I were able to relate just how it was those so many years ago.  We moved from this home in the early sixties so there were many, many years that had passed and still the house remained beautiful.  The care and attention to detail was so evident in the remodeling they had done over the years but Mama and I could still recall each and every corner in detail.  Gail was pleased to learn something new of her home as well.  She crowed “as far as I’m concerned, this is the perfect house!”  I agreed wholeheartedly!

We spent the next few hours relating stories and memories with each other and experienced a thoroughly enjoyable Memorial Day together in friendship.  I was touched as Mama related how as she and our Daddy as young teenagers walking hand in hand in front of this very same house years before their marriage dreamed “Oh, wouldn’t it be WONDERFUL to live in that pretty little house?”  Our Daddy made their dreams come true when he purchased that first home, the same as he continued her dreams of owning lovely homes throughout their sixty years and eight days of marriage.  This first home, however, was as special to her as it has always been to me.

As we were reluctantly departing, Gail offered “you’all come back whenever you want!  Don’t just drive by; stop in and visit!”  Mama and I were so touched at the willingness of this friend to share her home with us and I send my sincere thanks to Gail, her daughter Melissa and husband to allow a wonderful day for my beautiful Mama and me.

Our Memorial Day was spent in honoring not just our fallen soldiers but our own ancestors as well; it was worth a million to me to be able to bring back precious memories of a time gone by for my sweet Mama.  The joy of reliving my own childhood remains a treasure beyond compare!

This trip only proves that even though a building may have been built many years before, if the walls could talk, they would share the love leftover from one family to another for generations to come… As my friend, Marsha at work said “Perhaps some of the love your family brought to that home remains there and entreats the “new” owners to love it just as well.”  (Thank you Marsha…)

I  only pray Gail and her family have witnessed the aura of love contained within those walls of “the little house on Fifth Street and wish for their family many more years of happiness therein!”