Saturday, October 07, 2006
After leaving Petit Jean mountain, we crossed over to the NE corner of the State (where I grew up) to visit my dear Aunt Willie Mae. We enjoyed the drive, choosing to travel the back roads that we had never been down before. As we got closer to home, I began to get excited and had a strange longing to see places that once were so familiar to me. (have you ever noticed the area where we lived growing up is always referred to as home even though we haven't lived there in years?)
To my surprise, many things had changed since the last time we visited. New business and industry has moved in and roads were being widened and added, changing the landscape forever. But the most damaging of all, a tornado had ripped (literally) through the small town where I had attended grade school, wiping out homes, trees and buildings. Many of the landmarks in that town that were so familiar to me had vanished. The house where my first bus driver (Monk Rippy) lived....gone, the houses where his sons lived next door .... gone, the house my cousin first lived in....gone, lots wiped clean like the houses had never been there. Pieces of metal and other debris still appear in the hedge rows and fences.
The little town where my Aunt lives has gone through many changes since I was a child also. Like most small towns in the South, downtown has lost much of it's vitality and about all that is left is a gas station, a small grocery and a few other little businesses and the churches. It is still a good place to live for those who have never left. It always makes me a little sad each time I visit to see less and less of what I remembered as a child. The houses and yards seem smaller and the old friends and relatives fewer. I guess the old saying "you can't go home again" is true in that nothing ever stays the same including me.
However, I think we really never leave home at all. Even though I don't live in the same little community or even in the same State, all the memories and experiences, friends and family that made up my childhood are a part of who I am and they all made a contribution to the person I am today.
It was a good place to live and grow up and for all those friends and extended family, and all those memories and experiences, I am grateful.