Going home to Ohio this time was a little surreal to me. I think it had to do with my memories of growing up and visiting at the holidays. As a little girl I remember my dad would drive down these country roads at night going from his side of the family to my moms side of the family and my brother and I were in the backseat having no idea where we were. Homes would be decorated with Christmas lights and there would be glistening candles in the windows. I used to tell myself that one day, when I had a home of my own, I was going to buy candles to sit in the windows because I thought it looked so cozy. I have not visited Ohio at Christmastime since I was probably around ten or eleven years old. Thus the reason for my near thirty year time warp, but I must say… not a whole lot has changed at Grandpa’s house. The sunsets and fields that have been farmed by generations of my family (including my father) still stop me in my tracks with their serenity.
This is my Grandpa (my dad’s dad). He is almost 92 years old and recently suffered a stroke that had landed him in the hospital and gave us all a scare. He is so happy to be home and I was so happy to see him, joke with him, and kiss his face.
I even survived watching The Lawrence Welk Show with him. He finds it endearing, I find it utterly creepy, but love does what it must and I succumbed to the creepy.
As I walk in through the kitchen, I’m met with this same vintage stove that still works like a champ. I remember sitting on the little stool in the kitchen and watching my Aunt and Grandmother bustle about preparing dinner and being fascinated at how you lifted up the doors to the oven and thought it was so cool. Shoot, I still think it’s cool. I love this stove.
I walk into Grandpa’s bedroom and find this picture of me hanging right by his bed. I can’t believe it’s still there, unchanged.
On his dresser are these pictures of my brother and I sandwiched between a floral arrangement, his socks and his brush. Pictures unchanged among socks he changes everyday.
His Christmas tree is still up and the same ornaments from my childhood have found their way to hang on the tree another year.
The manger scene that he made so many years ago once again is nestled under the tree.
Sitting in his rocking chair, he watches all three of his children visiting. All three of his children that were raised right here in this very house that he built are all back together again in the living room with some of their children and if my punks were here, he’d have his great grandchildren. What a legacy all around. He’s taking it all in.
My dad points to these golden trees and tells me that he bought these for my grandma and the story of how she wanted them. The trees sit upon a lazy susan that my grandpa made. Have I mentioned he’s a retired industrial arts teacher? He still loves being out in his shop creating. I look at the trees and miss my grandma. She was so loving. She’s the only thing missing here in this house of no changes. She is the only person I know of who called the couch a davenport and who would always sing to me “A Bushel and a Peck.” She had the most beautiful hands and she’d let me try on her pretty rings and paint her fingernails. Her makeup, hairspray and nail polish still sit in the bathroom right where she left them almost thirteen years ago. Once again, I’m flooded with memories.
Going home is bittersweet. Everything is changing, yet nothing is changing. We’re all aging, yet all the “things” remain unchanged. My dad points out other knick knacks laying around and tells me stories from his childhood. I cling to these things, these stories because in some indirect way, they have formed me. Maybe that’s what is hitting me. My grandparents life choices plus my mom and dad’s life choices plus my life choices have made me who I am and that is my epiphany here at this time of Epiphany. Can I encourage you in something? Talk to the older ones in your life. Listen to their stories. Write them down. Take their pictures and be engaged because they are subtly telling you who you are. It may seem like it’s just their history, but don’t be mistaken for a minute. It’s your history of who you are too.