They say you can’t go home again, but I’ve never believed that was true. Until today. As a child, I spent most of my summers at my grandparents’ house on the Wicomico River in St. Mary’s County, Maryland. For me, that was the happiest place on earth. Forget Disney World; the only place I wanted to be was at grandma’s house. I happened to be “down home” today and stopped to look at the house where I spent so much of my youth.
It’s been more than 25 years since my last summer spent on my grandfather’s tobacco farm. When my daughters were little, we would go down for a week or two and spend some lazy summer days trying to recapture the magic that existed in my childhood. Although there were no more cows, and the blackberry bushes were no longer visible through the overgrowth, grandma’s house still held a certain enchantment for me. Granddad was no longer there to take us crabbing and fishing, and my great aunts who doted over me were all gone, but grandma was still there taking care of me as well as my children.
I lost my grandmother a few years ago, and the little house that my grandfather built in 1940 was spruced up and sold. I abandoned my childhood dream of buying the house for myself someday and making it the same kind of cozy little home that it had been when my mother was raised there and when I spent my wonderful summers there. The house has exchanged hands couple of times, and now its age is certainly showing.
When visiting my cousin today (she lives next door), I noticed that the roof needs to be replaced, all of my grandmother’s beautiful flowers and bushes are gone, and the trees in the backyard have all been cut down. There will be no more homemade strawberry, plum, or grape wine. No more fresh apple pies from the tree in the backyard. The tobacco barn has been torn down, and my grandfather’s beloved shop where he built boats is falling apart. But when I close my eyes, the house I loved still exists, and in my dreams at night, Buck and Lil are still alive.
So I guess the reality is that you really can’t go home again. But those memories will never fade from my mind, and I believe that I have finally found what I’ve been searching for over the past few weeks. Yes, I have found the old farmhouse in need of repair in the sleepy little town waiting for some action. The next time I go to grandma’s, it will be on paper, and my sweet dreams will be transformed into my characters’ nightmares. In her later years, my grandmother loved to read, and I think this is just what she would have wanted.
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