This past weekend as we were traveling through where I was born and spent the first few years of my life, I had a a chance to reflect on my childhood, the major events of my life, the bits and pieces of what makes me who I am. My granny passed away about two and half years ago and for the first time in 50 years my Granddaddy has been alone after having her by his side each and every day for the last 50 years. Since then he has had a tough time adjusting to life on his own, the reality of being by himself, and ongoing health issues. So when he said that he was moving to live in Colorado with my uncle, I was not surprised and actually feel like it is the best thing for him. However that means he is leaving his home of the last 50 years and all the things that made it his “Home” with my granny. We knew that this would be a visit that we could not miss on our way through. What I didn’t really realize was how tough it would be for him as well as me.
We spent the day with Granddaddy and my Aunt Dianne and went to my Great Grandparents home in Oakman AL. This was the first time I had been to their house since my Great Grandmother died over 22 years ago. Theirs was a grand southern home on a hillside in the country. The house actually served as the post office back in the civil war and held years and year of memories to more people than can be counted. For me it was the basis for every Christmas morning memory as a child. I can vividly remember the hardwood floors and the creaks they would make as you walked on them, the upstairs bedrooms that had the sloped ceilings that you would hit your head on if you sat up to quickly in bed and the magic of coming down the stairs on Christmas morning to see what Santa had left. I also remember great summers in the house with cousins, staying up playing spoons, and sitting out on the front porch with my Great Granddaddy talking for what seemed like hours.
The old house is now in bad shape. No one has lived in it in over 20 years and looking at it with the broken window panes, and deteriorating foundation is sad. It solidifies that the grandeur of the house is gone and is nothing but memories now.
As we made our way back to my Granddaddy’s house I realized that I was most likely spending the last few hours in his house since the plan is to sell it once he moves to Colorado. I was very close with my grandparents as a kid. I spent several summers with them and in that very house. I have very good memories of both of them and the time we spent there. I know the house like it was my own. That evening I found myself walking through with my aunt to see if there was anything I wanted out of the house before they sold it and the enormity of the change hit me squarely in the gut. The finality of it was closing in and what I had really just taken for granted as a pillar of stability in my younger years was closing the book on those times as memories of the past.
With each running event or triathlon that I train for and complete, there is a period immediately in the days after when the finality of the event hits me. The race is over, the medal is hung on the wall, the race report is finished and then there is a void. This was particularly true with the 50 miler I wrapped up last month and it lasted longer than normal. I guess it was a bigger event – or a larger milestone or whatever. I normally bounce back pretty quickly and get another goal on the calendar or shift focus to one that is already on the calendar but inevitably there still tends to be a void even if for a short period. The realization that all of the early morning swims, the long runs in the rain, the bike rides in the heat all have peaked for that event and are done and the event is over and now just a memory. Oftentimes during the training, I get bored with the long runs, or the swims are tough on a tired body or the bike up all the hills of SW Missouri get really tough and I tell myself I can’t wait to have these out of the way and just get to the race. Then the race is over and I miss the training. It’s kind of an endless self-feeding cycle.
As a husband and father, I also tend to get stressed out with the schedule of never ending places to be or low on patience when the kids are tired and whiny or fighting with each other. I tell myself – I really just want to get through this week and make it to the weekend so that we can have a day off. Then the weekend comes and there are games to go to, dance practice to hurry off to, church to get up early for and we breathe a sigh of relief on Sunday evening and think … man I am glad that weekend is over.
What I hope to try to keep in mind(at least with a focused effort) is that I need to stop and enjoy this! Soon it will be over and I will be saying that I really miss it. And while I can always add something else to focus on to the calendar or schedule… it will not be the same. With each week, with each ball game, with each swim, run, bike and race… it moves each of those into the memory category.
I will miss my Great Grandparent’s home as well as my Grandparents home even more now as the years go by. I will miss spending time at both of these and the people that shared them with me. Ultimately the houses just are the container of the memories of the experiences with the people there. I will miss the people the most… the houses just are a finalization of the time periods held within them.
I hope I can stop and slow down in all of the aspects of my life and realize I need to enjoy the miles – and realize the race is just the point where the miles turn into memories.