This weekend, we head to my parents' Toledo Bend home. It was the last place they lived and it was the place where Mama died. Until one month ago, it was filled with their remaining belongings, which means many memories. Mama is buried in Oklahoma, so I don't get to visit her grave very often. The house on the lake is the place I go to feel closer to her. Each time we pull into the driveway, I remember how she would have all the lamps on, with the blinds open. The house just looked so warm and inviting, especially after the three-hour drive, usually after a day of work, on a Friday evening. When we first arrived, she always had a home-cooked meal, which usually ended with a homemade pie. Joey once mentioned he liked pie and after that Mama always made sure she baked at least one when we visited.
Then, sadness overcomes me for a moment, as I think of how much she would have enjoyed seeing us pull up, five instead of two. How she would have opened the door and raced out to pull tired grand kids out of the van. How she would have smothered them with kisses and hugs. How happy she was on the one visit we made with E., three months before she died (they visited us, sometimes several times a month). As quickly as the sadness comes, though, my mind shifts to what Mama would probably tell me. Don't dwell on the past and sadness; you have your children to think about and care for. Then I smile, and thank God for the mother he gave me and the wisdom she shared.
So, this weekend, we make our last real visit there. The house is physically empty now; only the memories remain. Mama's cedar chest, once full of family photos, her wedding dress, our baby clothes, love letters, and my homemade offerings, is now empty and sitting in our bedroom. The closets, which once held rows of starched and perfectly ironed blouses and shirts, are now empty, except for a few empty hangers. The round table which we ate at in Natchitoches, is now the main eating spot in our home. The memories remain, though. When I look at the kitchen sink, I always remember Mama bathing a six-month-old E. Then, I thank God that is one of the few moments we have on video. I always hesitate for a moment as I approach the hallway. This is where Mama collapsed. This is where Joey and Amber cleaned before I entered the house after Mama's accident. Two memories, one horrible, the other beautiful, and again, thanksgiving to God for the people he has placed in my life. The girls always want to walk down to the dock, soon after arriving. I remember Daddy taking us down to check on the current depth of the water and to watch for minnows.
I approach this weekend, with mixed feelings of dread and excitement. I know selling the house is the only thing to do. It's an actual house, not a camp, and it is not good for a house to sit empty. We could never go often enough to maintain it. I dread saying good-bye to this physical place which stands for Mama. I dread not being able to physically walk in that place where she walked and lived. At the same time, I am excited. As my friend, Gina, always says, "I'm excited to see what God is going to do!" I'm excited about the growth that has occurred in me over the past six years. I'm excited that Mama would be proud of the positive changes in me that are a result of all I've faced since she died. And again, I am thankful for all God has done and the good he has brought out of tragedy.