Writer: On this day, I understood Mama’s words

Published 1:30 am Saturday, September 13, 2014

Today has been a good day. For the first time in several months, I have been “allowed” to mow the yard (FYI menfolk, I KNEW where you hid that key all the time). Before noon, there was a good breeze. I noticed the grass and the trees have begun to have that fallish look. As I rode at a brisk 1/4 mile an hour, I was happy, feeling healthier than I have in a very long time. It was just one of those easy, end-of-summer days that are the stuff good memories are made of.

Then, as I loaded the dishwasher, I glanced out the window and felt a lump in my throat. There was something about the late afternoon light that brought the thought into my mind, “I want to go home.” Here I am standing in my hobbit house, that my husband and sons have changed, remodeled, refitted, added to, never fussing ( too much) and making this place to suit me exactly. Go home? I am home, but still the thought resonated, almost bringing tears to my eyes. It was a need, a longing that pulled at my heart until it ached.

Suddenly, I remembered a conversation with my mama that happened some months before she died, at around the same time of year, summer sliding into fall. Her strength was steadily waning, she slept more, she rarely left the house except for doctor and hospital visits. She didn’t feel like talking very often. I was sitting with her on the couch. She was laying so she could see out the back door. She loved watching the light change as the day went by.

She said, “I want to go home.”

“Mama, you are home.” She turned and fixed those large brown eyes on me and with an almost loving, pitying look, she said, “One day you will understand.”

She has been gone nearly five years and today, I finally understand. The home I want to go to is not a place or a person, it is days gone by. When late summer evenings meant coming in from playing, to supper cooked fresh from the garden, arguing with my sisters over first dibs on the bathroom, watching my little brother toddle after me, down the hall as fast as those fat little legs would carry him, trying to coax Daddy into letting the TV get turned to something besides news. When the biggest worry and hardest grief was knowing school started back after Labor Day. When watching the sunlight turn the pinkish-purple of dusk meant soon Mama would call us in and our family was all together again.

My 58-year-old mind explains this all to me quite logically and it makes perfect sense. But memories are both wonderful and sad. And, I want to go home.

We all have that need, want at times, I guess. But the human spirit always seems to rebound. Memories such as I have of today will soften sadness, and tinge it with a smile.

Marsha Phillips