I believe going home is very important, even if it's just once in a while. For me, it's been over two years. The time before, it was two years before that. It's never often enough. My primary link to home was my parents, but several years back they moved to a different part of the state. Extended family are still around, but unfortunately we all seem to have gone in different directions.
So when an invitation arrived in the mail for a bridal shower of a dear cousin, I eagerly accepted. I'm actually designing the wedding flowers, so this created an excellent opportunity to get a feel for the bride's likes. Plus, I just had to bring over some flowers for the shower and see how she liked Café au lait dahlias. She loved them... I knew she would. (smile) I also brought over some extra flowers, thinking I would share them with other family and friends.
However, I hadn't planned on driving past the cemetery my grandparents were located at on the way over to the bridal shower. Bradley commented on the grassy field. He asked what all those things were sticking up out of the ground. It's the kind of cemetery where the headstones are flat in the ground and not upright. Scattered across the grass were rows of flowers standing upright in vases. He noticed the vases. Bradley has never been to a cemetery before. I immediately knew that's where the flowers were headed. I can't believe I hadn't thought of it sooner, but this was a wonderful opportunity to take a few moments to say hello to my grandparents and expose Bradley to a very real part of life.
As Sunday morning rolled around, my mom, Bradley, and myself made a quick trip back to the cemetery before breakfast with family. As we turned into the drive, I made sure to tell Bradley how serious this stop was. He was to be absolutely respectful and no running around. In the last few months, Bradley has been asking a lot about death. He'll say things like, "Mommy, I don't want to die." Or he'll ask, "Mommy when are you going to die?" As a parent, I'm not really sure how to answer this. I vaguely remember asking similar questions to my mom when I was young, but now I was the mom. How do I answer that?
What a loaded question and an uncomfortable one! I'm actually more comfortable with the, "Mommy, how did I come out of your tummy?" So I did the best I could, I answered honestly and kept things vague.
"Bradley, remember when Bailey died (Our yellow lab of 8 years who died unexpectedly two years ago)? Remember when we talked about her going to doggy heaven. Well, people go to heaven too. Let's not worry too much about that. You have a lot of living to do." I don't know if that's right, but I did my best.
To my surprise, Bradley did awesome. He followed his grandma up to the grave sites and stood there. He asked, what it was and we did our best to explain who was there. He definitely understands that his grandma and grandpa are my parents, but to comprehend that his grandma and grandpa had parents, is another story.
As I kneeled down to arrange the flowers in the vase (because I'm not going to just plop flowers in the vase), he seemed to understand a little and was quiet. I think he sensed some emotion from myself and his grandma and just stood there watching what we were doing. There was no running around or saying, "Mommy, can I go over to that tree." He stayed by us and then we all walked back to the car.
Softly, my mom said to Bradley, "They would have really liked you."
In the summertime, I often think of home. Especially, when it's the middle of July, a cool 65 degrees, and I know if I cross those mountains it's going to be a warm and sunny 85 degree day. Somehow, home grounds a person. It reminds me of who I am, where I came from, and what really matters in life. It recharges my batteries and relaxes my soul.
Today, as I sit at my desk and look out the window to see overcast, rain, and a green wall of evergreen trees in the distance, I can close my eyes and think of home... The warmth of the sun, the vision of wide open spaces, and the memories of loved ones past and present that are forever in my heart.