Grief can make a person do strange things. Ever since Grandma died and our beloved home was sold to strangers, I find myself clinging onto every little thing that reminds me of her and our former home.
When I left our home for the last time ever to return to Florida after Grandma’s funeral, I took one of her many ink pens that she collected from the local bank with me. I kept it in my purse and used it often, because there were a lot of CNB pens in our house and it reminded me of home. Then one day I somehow lost the pen from my purse and I got upset over it. I got upset over an ink pen. Normally losing a pen from my purse wouldn’t have any effect on me, since I can always get more. But this particular pen came from Home and Grandma had used it, so it upset me to lose it.
Last Sunday morning I laid in bed watching “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”. I have never liked to watch Western movies, but I caught this one on TV and couldn’t help but watch it because Grandpa loved to watch Westerns, and he often watched the Liberty Valance movie when I was growing up. In fact, I find myself watching a lot of old TV shows and movies that I was never really into before, simply because they remind me of my grandparents and our home that is now gone. I often find myself watching old episodes of Andy Griffith, The Beverly Hillbillies, Gilligan’s Island, and The Waltons simply because they were always on the TV at my house.
I sometimes find myself listening to classical symphony music on the radio while I’m driving in my car, because that’s what Grandma and Grandpa always listened to in the car.
Although we had different tastes in home decoration, I find myself decorating my home more and more in Grandma’s style to make me feel more at home.
I use the exact same brand of laundry detergent, household cleaners, and air freshener that Grandma used so that everything in my house will smell like our old house did.
I often buy bottles of Grandma’s favorite brand of perfume that she always wore, White Diamonds, and spray it all throughout my house to make it smell like her.
I hate the smell of vanilla, but now I burn vanilla scented candles in my home because Grandma often did, and I want my house to smell like hers did.
I often call Lexi by “Lexikins”, because that’s what Grandma sometimes called her.
While watching the TV show COPS, my eyes teared up when a church tower bell somewhere in the background began playing the exact same tune as the old Grandfather clock that stood in our living room since before I was even born.
A lot of random photos of mine now have precious meaning to me, because they were taken at my home and you can see the interior or exterior of our house in the background of the photos. Now that my home is gone, these photos are all I have left of it, along with whatever items I was able to take with me.
My family had a collection of old home movies we had shot with one of those big 1980’s home camcorders. I would LOVE to get my hands on those old VHS home movie tapes and convert them to DVD’s or digital computer files so that I could watch them whenever I want.
It sounds hard to believe, but Grandma’s death was the first death in all my 35 years of living that truly hurt me. Whenever any of my relatives or friends have died, I’ve always somehow been able to handle their passing rather well. I was never really that attached to anyone in order to feel torn up over their deaths. I was sad and shocked when Grandpa suddenly died, but his death didn’t hurt me as much as Grandma’s passing has because I wasn’t as close to him as I was with her. So for the first time in my 35 years of living, I am finally experiencing the full pain of losing a loved one to death. And losing my beloved home on top of that has made this doubly painful for me.
I suppose the next death that will have a profound affect on me will be my father’s one of these days. He’s getting close to 60 and has never been in the best of health, so I suppose his death will come someday soon before I know it.
I cling to any little thing that reminds me of my home and family now because this is the first time in my entire life that I have ever had to live without them. Since the day I was born, that house on Dutch Lane was my sanctuary…my refuge…my North Star…my Ground Zero. No matter where I was in the world or what I was going through, it was always there for me to come home to whenever I needed to recharge myself and enjoy simple peace, seek help and comfort, or enjoy time with my extended family. Now that my home is gone, I have no roots or Home Base to return to, and I almost don’t know who I am anymore. So much of my identity and my roots were based in that home. I now feel like a lost orphan roaming the earth alone…like a runaway ship on stormy sea waters without a captain to guide it nor a North Star with which to navigate it.
A lot of people from my hometown have been asking me when I plan to come home to visit again. I don’t know the answer to that question. I’m not ready to go back yet. Where would I go?? I have no home to go to anymore. My home sat on the very Western edge of town, right where the rural countryside began. If I were to return to my hometown to visit, I know I wouldn’t be able to bear going anywhere near the Western side of town anymore. Even worse, I fear that I would absentmindedly drive out there out of sheer habit, and then suddenly remember upon arriving at the house that it is no longer my home anymore. I would never be able to handle that heartache. So for right now, I just stay far away.
The only thought that keeps me going some days is that someday when my life is finished, I will be able to go home and be with my family again. The house will be there again exactly as it was when we all lived in it. Someday I will walk through that back door and sit down at our table again.