Ghosts of the Past

     Sometimes I wish it was still 1983.

     In 1983 I was five years old. My parents were still married. We still lived in the house that my parents built before I was born, on property adjacent to my grandparents’. I could walk from my house to my grandparents’ house “down the lane”, with my mom standing watch to make sure I made it there okay. My brother and I were friends. We fished in the big pond that my grandpa had made when grandpa and grandma built their house many years earlier. Not only did we have our grandparents close, but my aunt, uncle and two cousins lived in the same town (and still do). Holidays were a bustling, noisy, sometimes-crowded affair at my grandparents’ house. I remember how we kids would wait impatiently for the adults to finish their after-dinner coffee before we could open presents on Christmas Eve. I was a cute, confident little girl who enjoyed school and hadn’t yet become shy and insecure. I hadn’t gotten “chubby” yet, either.

     A couple years ago, one of my cousins asked me if I ever thought about how it would be if we had never moved away. Uh, yeah. Of course I have. But the truth is, I try not to, because I am an extremely sentimental person and thinking wistfully back on how things might have been does not help me one bit. I could easily get lost dreaming about what might have been, but the undeniable truth is that when it comes down to it I wouldn’t change a thing.

     If we hadn’t moved once twice three times I wouldn’t have made the friends that I have today. If we still lived in Indiana, in all likelihood I would have never met Dave and we certainly would not be blessed with Violet. —I just looked over at her and she gave me the sweetest smile ever.—

     Knowing things have worked out for the best doesn’t completely wash away the bittersweet taste of a visit to the old homestead. The day will come when I can’t go back ‘home’ again. My grandmother is 91 years old and as much as I would like to keep the property in the family, it just isn’t possible. So when we visit, I go for walks over the land that I’ve explored so many countless times before. Where once there was grass there is now nearly-impenetrable wilderness. Tiny saplings that my mother planted 35 years ago have now grown into towering trees and the dock has been reclaimed by the pond.  

     The tree house that my Dad made for my brother has been reduced to a pile of rotting boards and rusty nails.  This bothered me the most, for some reason. 

These trees used to be small enough to step over.

There is "our" house on the other side of the pond.

     A visit to Grandma’s is the surest reminder that Life Goes On. As painful as it is at times, the best thing to do is to face the ghosts of the past, give them a smile, then turn my back to them, take my daughter’s hand and walk on.

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12 responses to “Ghosts of the Past

  1. As right as rain, my daughter. “Bittersweet”, I believe it’s called. Thanks for the little stroll around the old place.

  2. You are blessed to have such sweet memories. I think one of my struggles is remembering that it is my opportunity now to create memories, like those, for my kids. Letting go of the past is hard, but it gives us the strength to forge a new future.

    • I get excited (and a little bit scared) when I stop to think about the fact that I am helping to create the memories that Violet will carry with her forever. What a big responsibility! I have countless wonderful memories from my own childhood, and I want the same for her.

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