My mother recently had a hip replacement. In fact, it was so recent that she is still recovering in the hospital. There were things at my parent’s house that needed to be done before she comes home so my younger sister and I met at our childhood home to do some work together. It is funny but being there cleaning brought back so many memories. My precious J was working right along side us, of course. Even though there were four of us in the house it was quiet for the most part. We just happened to be working in a bedroom that my sister and I had each used as a bedroom at some point while growing up in that house. We changed sheets, rearranged furniture, took down wallpaper, and cleaned paneling. We tried to imagine how many times we cleaned those same walls growing up.
While in the kitchen cleaning I walked to the back door and looked out into the backyard where we spent so many days playing in the sun. The pine thicket where we played and built pine straw houses is now gone–the victim of one too many wind storms. The backyard that at one time seemed huge now looks small and sad. It was once filled with a clothesline full of freshly washed clothes, a swingset, and the laughter and arguings of three little girls and one agrivating big brother. Those things have long been gone from the yard and it sits now as if it is grieving the loss of those wonderful days.
I couldn’t hold back the tears that flooded my eyes as I looked out at my old friend. I mourned the loss of the days that passed by much too fast, the days of butterflies, honeysuckle, and lightning bugs. I pulled myself away from the clutches of the memories that held me to the view of the emptiness and death of what was once a beautiful place of dreams and wishes. I walked across the kitchen and peered out the window, the place where my mother stood so many times and cried a mother’s tears–the crying window. I, too, shed a few tears at that window growing up. It is the only window in the house that faces the crossroads just one house down from ours. To me those crossroads symbolize the paths life had to offer my mother’s children. There were four of us and each of us had a different path that lead us away. So much looked the same as I looked out that window yet so much has changed.
I tried to get my sister to spend the night with me in our parent’s house that night, just the two of us. After looking at me like I was crazy and asking if I was serious she said, “Do you remember how scary this house is after dark? I’m not staying here all night.” The truth is I do remember how scary that house is when the sun goes down. So, I laid down on my mother’s bed, looked up at the old familiar light fixture from my childhood, soaked in one more moment, and for the briefest second I was a little girl again.