Memorial Day–The road back home is long and winding in the best of times. It reaches back to when everyone is alive and the days of family are rich with history and love and burning pots full of food churned up from the very land on which you stand. It is a breath of life, carried on the wind between plowed fields, that shakes off this mortal coil and reminds your heart and soul of days and nights gone horribly and mightily past.
“Oh, My Lord…Bless My Soul!”, is how MaDear would greet the slowed, rolling, humming stop of my green Monte Carlo at the curb in front of their house of the same color. She would rock herself back in that lawn chair and tap her “slapping hand” against the screen door before alerting Daddy S.L., “Junior’s here, Daddy. He’s come back for the cleaning, Baby.” Soon, the trucks and cousins and shovels with plants and flowers and trinkets would arrive. After a bite of salt pork, grits, coffee and laughter we would be on our way to the grave yard cleaning and memorial. One year there was a child with a newly learned snare drum regurgitating “taps”. Every year there were our voices in homage and praise.
Home: a place where history is not yet something that is behind you. Not yet a destination that you have to remember how to get back to…not yet a place in the stories that are told to your children on nights when sleep is not the water that surrounds their beds.
Down Home: a place to remember out the lives of the dead and pay homage to their walks of glory and triumph and pain and service.
Gone Home: a place to rest and lay your burdens down and wait for the rumbling thump of those still alive to come yearly and build up the ground above your bones.
Back Home: A place to listen to their version of your life’s journey and wait for the gentle, simple questions from children as they understand what these names on these rocks really mean.
Touching Home: A place of rest that awakens your bones when a child of your bloodline reaches out and cleans away the dust of your headstone for the first time and says, from his heart, “Hello, Grandpa”