Memories are funny things. It amazes me every time I try to remember something from my childhood and I get it completely wrong. As little kids everything is huge and a big deal. Something that seems insignificant to an adult can have a huge impact on a child.
This last weekend I went back to my childhood hometown. Just a small town, one that doesn’t even have a stop light. I spent only about 3 years there but it’s stuck in my mind so clearly that each time I visit I feel like I’m home. The last time I was in this part of Oregon I was 18 years old and had just graduated high school. Even then it was amazing to me how different everything looked.
I took this 250 mile journey to say goodbye to my oldest friends father. I hadn’t seen him since 1993 but something about his passing hit me really hard. I am not close with my own father and I think deep down her dad became a father figure to me. I actually saw him more that my own dad during my formative years. And it’s not as if we were close. Actually, the opposite. I was the neighbors grandchild and his daughters friend. I never benefited from long talks with him or words of wisdom but there was something about his rugged nature and his true love for his family that I looked up to.
He was also one of my last links to my Grandfather.
I visited their old home while I was there and it made me weep. So many good memories were made in this home. My Grandma taking me to church, playing next door with the kids, horseback riding in the pasture, helping them move irrigation pipe, taking walks with the dogs, and eating watermelon on the patio. This little neighborhood was so influential in my life and I realized that I missed it terribly. I miss the closeness that these people have. I miss the area in general and the true feeling of a small town.
It was a very emotional weekend for me. I would end up searching for hours for my grandfather’s grave. Weeping because I was so frustrated that my memory wasn’t helping me locate him. Finally, thanks to the Internet, I found him. And again I sobbed and sobbed over my loss. I was 9 when he lost his battle with leukemia. I remember my brother coming out to tell me that he was gone. My brother is this big, tough guy and here he is crying?! Being little like that, I didn’t understand what I had just lost. My whole world just flipped. He was such an amazing man and I adored him.
Within just a few short years we would see the house I love be sold. Grandma moved to town and my time at the neighbors became sparse. And then the unthinkable happened. My Grandmother moved……away. She went to live by her brother in Oklahoma. And I would never see her again. She was wonderful about always sending birthday cards and calling from time to time but she would end up in Hawaii with her daughter and she would pass away there when my first baby was only 2.
So this trip down memory lane was significant for me. I think deep down I needed to say Goodbye, not only to Mr. K but to my grandparents. I mourned Granddad at 9 but never got to mourn Grandma. I think that’s why this trip was so huge to me.
Maybe next time I visit I’ll be a little less emotional.
2018 Update: I’ve now had to return to Prineville to mourn the loss of Mrs. K. My nephew too has passed on (later blog will address this) and I still adore the town. I took my husband with me this last time and showed him my memories. He’s always lived in the same place, so he doesn’t really understand but he tried and supported me. I again, went to the cemetery to mourn those I’ve lost. One day I hope to return there for something other than a funeral.