You know how, no matter what age you are, you’re still a child when you go home? The familiar smells come back immediately? The comfortable feeling settles in?
I pulled in after an eight hour drive. I’ve driven it so many times I could do it in my sleep. Actually, I think I have. Mom and Dad are waiting. They’ve been waiting all day. Dad has in his mind exactly where he wants the apple trees he hasn’t yet ordered, or has but they’re not here yet. We picked up bags of Miracle Gro dirt and brought with us. The good stuff. With a shovel in hand he walks us over to the side yard to show Jamie where he wants his holes dug and then supervises to make sure they are deep and round enough. Once sufficient, Jamie drops a bag of the miracle dirt next to each hole. Meanwhile, Dad gives me lessons on the local birds, the walnuts in the yard, the drainage system they put in the yard next door, the condition of the deck and his plan for it’s preservation. We check a nest in a bird house, find nothing in it and put it back. Hopefully, when Jamie comes back in a few weeks the apple trees will be here for him to plant.
It’s cold. Real cold. In the 30s. We make our way inside to find mom waiting for us. She’s working on a set of cross-stitch Christmas stockings to hang on their mantel. In the crockpot is stew and she’s already baked bread for soaking up the gravy. She’s careful to cook food she knows I’ll be able to eat after having jaw surgery. It’s Dad’s 84th birthday celebration. His birthday was actually a few days ago. In the center of the dining room table is a chocolate cake with eight candles across the top and 4 candles in a row beneath. When we come home we always sit at the table for meals. Dad blew out the candles and we finished off the meal with cake and ice cream. I got great pictures but Dad won’t let me post them because he says he doesn’t look good without his teeth in.
Some things always remain the same. They still watch Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy every night. They still sit in their same places with Mom’s latest project surrounding her and Dad’s reading material surrounding him. Dad’s got some crepe myrtle trees in the ground getting stable and warm so I can bring them home and transplant in my yard. Some things are different. Mom has decided she’ll leave her Christmas tree on the front porch all year long. At least it’s in the corner and not decorated or lit up.
We drive by the old house. It’s right up the street. The house my parents lived in for many years and put blood, sweat and tears into. The huge holly tree we watched grow from a handful to a towering monster has been cut up. The beautiful Japanese maple that marked the corner of the house has been cut down. The bushes that line both driveways have been cut back. The new owners apparently didn’t know they aren’t the kind of bushes you can cut down one side of. It looks terrible. It makes me sad. We keep on driving past the house. I don’t really want to see any more.
Over the short visit, we shop a little, run a few errands, watch television together, abscond some more art work (they have a lot), catch up on family doings, and hear stories about Mom and Dad’s childhood. I asked the question, “What was the funnest thing about growing up on a farm.” Both of them, without hesitation, emphatically and simultaneously said, “Nothing!” I guess I should mention they both grew up on farms and apparently don’t miss it.
Jamie is going back tomorrow. Some things never change. Mom wants to clean out the garage. This will be about the fifth time. Dad wants to plant his apple trees. I don’t know if they’ve come in yet. Some things are different. It’s Jamie’s last break from school that will allow him to go visit before he graduates and moves on to working full time. He’s a good grandson. They’re good parents.