It's been 12 years since you passed and I've missed you every day. I feel your presence around me often. And, I know your prayers are still protecting me. I picture you smiling your sweet smile down on me. On all of us. You are special and so beloved.
The majority of my memories of you are from my childhood in Texas. I've experienced so much of my adulthood without you. If you could see me now, on this farm, you'd be so happy. And while the meaning of "farm" means two different things from where you lived and where I live now, they still hold the same sentiment. There's a lot of age and maturity and experience for me between the two farms now. As a child, going to the farm meant going to see Memaw and Pa and hours upon hours of making mud pies and chasing lightning bugs with cousins. Homemade biscuits and gravy every morning and the most amazing pallet to sleep on at night. (In Texas, ya'll know a pallet is a makeshift bed stacked high with your grandmother's old quilts, right?)
You had the smallest one bedroom home and yet, it was constantly full of family and love and laughter. The kitchen was the centerpiece. (Picture 9 kids lined up at an old farm table with benches - eating breakfast and passing Memaw's fresh, hot biscuits from a pan. That was Round 1. Within 30 minutes, there'd be 6 grown men lined up the table devouring a fresh, hot plate of biscuits and Memaw's gravy while they chatted with Pa at the head of the table. For all I know, Memaw may have made breakfast 6 times over every morning. There was always company and there were always hot biscuits, gravy and eggs.) You made it look so easy.
It was magical as a kid. As an adult now with my own home and farm, it sounds like WORK! I wonder now when did you ever sleep? When did you have time for all that cooking and my god, the grocery bill!?! The house was always spotless, but when did you ever have time to clean? Shamefully, I know us grand-kids weren't doing it. "In or Out," the adults always yelled. Of course they did! We were driving you all bat shit crazy whilst you were making breakfast, lunch and dinner for whoever decided to stop by.
I get it now. And, I wish I would've understood it while you were still alive. I wish I would've cleaned your house and washed your dishes. I wish I could've sat you down and made you your favorite meal. I wish I would have thanked you for all your sacrifices. All the sacrifices that only you know and carried to heaven with you.
I'm not sure a grandchild ever had your undivided attention - there were too damn many of us. But, you loved us equally and never showed favoritism. But, I had you all to myself once. Just once. Pa passed and your world was turned upside down. I can remember you fussing at him and grabbing a handful of his strawberry blonde hair. It wasn't violent. It was aggravation mixed with love. I know he drove you crazy but he was your world. I understand that now. So, when he passed, I know you never got over it. And, the farm was sold. How sad that must have been for you, Memaw.
But, you handled it with a smile on your face and said you were going to do all the things you never could do when Pa was alive. You traveled and you spent quality time with family. And, I was blessed to have spent a very special time with you before you died. Ronnie was deployed and you came to Virginia Beach to spend a week with me. I will forever treasure that special time with you. Every morning when I came downstairs dressed and ready for work, you fussed over me and told me how beautiful I was. I would walk out of the house feeling like a million bucks. And, we cooked together in my kitchen. You were always happiest in the kitchen.
And, to this day when I'm in the kitchen cooking, I feel you there with me. Like - you're standing right next to me. Smiling. And directing me. And telling me how to make everything taste good because Lord knows - you loved you some Ronnie and he deserves a good, home-cooked meal. And in those times, instead of missing you, I feel calm and at peace.
Our farm holds special meaning to us - it means family and love. It symbolizes hard work and sacrifice. It is a sanctuary for us - beautiful and peaceful. I imagine those were the same things you felt on the farm. How we all felt on that farm in Texas with you.