“I don’t think about my parents much anymore. I don’t really remember them.” So naturally, we went on a field trip to the old stomping ground…
Any good day involves plenty of coffee, so we started out on the right foot, before traveling through the back roads toward his home town. I told him what I remembered and talked about who lived where. He perked up, and the memories began to leak in.
First stop: to the cemetery to visit his mother and father. As we walked toward their stone, we walked past others with names he recognized, although he was surprised that they had passed within the past few years. He complained about the lichen on the headstones and the cold weather, but the memories remained few.
Next stop: the old homestead. We stopped at his mother’s old shop. He recalled his parent’s making the sign, and helping to build the structure. She sold lightly used clothes and treasures that his parents found at yard sales. She loved that old building and it gave her such joy to recycle, reuse items, and to re-home them.
The memories started to resurface one glance at a time. We looked down the road to the right and he recalled a neighbor that he loved. She worked as a sheriff and buzzed around the area on her 4-wheeler. He was surprised at how close the bridge looked, and how the area where he waited for the bus, looked smaller than he recalled. He talked about the grass triangle that he used to mow, and the trees that had been cut between the old homestead and the cemetery.
We drove onto the property that was once owned by his parents and stopped by the house. The new owners continue to use the pole barn that was once used to house animals, and is now used for storage. Now the house has a full porch, and the new owners have clearly insulated and turned the right side into living space. My husband recalled that the basement was once used for wood storage, the first floor contained an old 2-hole outhouse, and the upstairs held a pool table. The upstairs window over the porch was his old bedroom window. The old house jogged stubborn memories and the stories began to flow.
We drove on. We looked at the fields where the family hayed, and an old cement foundation where an old building once stood. We glanced at the tiny pond that once provided hours of entertainment during the long winters, and the hill where the kids would go sliding. He was surprised at how tiny the hill looked, yet it felt so big when he played on it as a child. He talked about walking through the dirt road to his grandfather’s house, while taking a picture of the brook that ran along the boundary line. He recalled cutting wood out back, and long hours of haying.
The trip to the homestead was the best way to start the day. He talked about his siblings, his parents, and days gone by. It made my heart happy to assist him in remembering his family and the good times. He recalled the fact that they had little, but didn’t know it. He was proud to share about picking berries, being frightened by a bear, and enjoying the benefits of homemade jam on toast and his mother’s good cooking.
We continued our field trip past the dump and he recalled hours of dump picking and finding precious treasures. He said that the siblings would go together and how upset one would get if left behind. As we continued up the road, he named off who lived where, some long passed gone, making note of how the area had changed over the years.
We parked at the foot of the driveway of the home where his parents moved to after he joined the Navy. He talked about how it didn’t look like it did when his father tended it and how it needed a slap of paint. It was never his home, but it was theirs for about 24 years.
We continued to drive through the back roads of his old stomping ground, recalling fields that the family hayed, and a hot date we had while driving freshly baled hay home long after sundown.
It was a good day that continued with more coffee, meandering through local stores, and a lunch date with friends. I brought him home tired and without a nap, but happy. Today he visited with all 5 siblings and his parents, and although he may not recognize them or remember them tomorrow, he did today, and today was good.