Florida, Florida and more Florida!
What a much needed trip to the coast…sitting by the sea and dipping in it was so good fo’da- Mee! Hanging out in Memaw’s (my mother in –law) house was an escape in it’s own right, as she lives in another world – visiting with her is fascinating to me – watching her mind jump from now to then – then being somewhere in the last 90 years.
Her confusion isn’t really confusion as much as it is rapid time travel leaving her to spin between all the life’s that she’s led.
The old house is full of memories, you can feel them brush by in the middle of the day – I find myself stepping closer to the wall, getting out of the way, lending respect to these folks that once walked the floors in human form. I know that my mother in law is up there in her room sorting through their times together calling them into the great rooms via her memory.
The one thing that is fo’sho in this here house is that it doesn’t feel lonely or empty, with every glance my own imagination is triggered or maybe it’s not my imagination but the eyes of my heart that dance in and out of Memaw’s memories – Lee and I love to spend our early evenings sitting out on the large front porch overlooking the St. John’s River, I can stare at the big ‘ole Magnolia tree for hours, images of well dressed folks from times gone by fill the grandiose lawn – I see white table clothed tables mixing with men in white dinner jackets and a big band playing in the back ground. Whenever I enter the kitchen I find Idora sitting alone staring off and out the window, she will be 95 years old this fall – still every morning she puts on her white uniform and heads down stairs for work, work for her now consist of opening the blinds, setting the alarm system and occasionally washing a few dishes. Her hearing is leaving her but her mind is like Memaw’s and she too spends her days traveling through the worlds of her past – the kitchen where she now resides most days is full of all the folks that ever worked there with her; around 9am the day crew of current workers cooks and maids show up & the room really feels crowded – once again I find myself stepping out of the way for the invisible.
I always spend a great deal of time with Idora, as I must cook my whole foods diet she sits with me, reminiscing on my methods of food preparation confirming that indeed this is ancestral cooking – NOT some NEW hippy way of approaching food – but what folks originally ate – ACTUAL FOOD.
This week we talked about her daddy – Wyatt and what life was like for him, you see Idora was born on an old Georgia plantation; her daddy was a share cropper – she’d talked to me before about it but this time she was having a deep memory – when I asked what life was like growing up on that old plantation she said “It was tough, we had to do what they said.” I responded with my ignorant Yankee mentality – but you all were independent workers – she laughed her deep loud laugh saying, “girl independence didn’t come to black folks in the south just ‘cause we wasn’t slaves no more.” She then jumped to talking about her momma and what she cooked, and how she taught her what to do in the kitchen. Idora’s deep & melodic voice and use of language pulls me through her tunnel of time, especially when she gets excited about something as she did with my cooking, “Sugar Lump, I sho’ is happy that You is feeding my babies real food and none of this can and boxed stuff – I didn’t never feed Old Lee none dat mess when he was a youngin’.”
The girls love being with these women, they believe Idora to be their grandma too, and the house entertains them with its mystery. The large chandeliers that dangle from giant ceilings and paintings of folks from long ago has Bella asking questions and Lola too, in fact I think that they too dance in and out of Idora and Memaws memories – it’s not really possible to not – these two Steel Magnolias, large, rare and beautiful women, remind me that life and time is passing – not to be saddened by its loss because the moments of magic are there to be savored; just like the smell of a Magnolia, one never forgets the smell – and just like a Magnolias scent is stored deep within to be pulled on when a refreshing moment is needed.
My favorite part of the visit was sitting in the library and watching Bella sing for Memaw and Idora, I know that they are not long for this world and I do want them to leave KNOWING who the girls are. Being that we live far and they are now memory time travelers I’m hoping that they will call my little ones back into the house via their memories, filling the halls with their sweet voices after we leave; that’s the magic of memories they are created in every instant.
After a few days we headed south to visit with my grandparents, let me tell you they are AMAZING – the two of them are just as spry as they were years ago, Poppy taught Bella to drive his golf cart around the “Yankee Trailer Park” (as Lee refers to it) and then they spent the afternoon swimming with the girls in the pool. A part of me didn’t want to leave; instead I too wanted to crawl back through time and spend the rest of the summer with them as I had when I was a kid.
By the weeks end it was time to return to Nashville and jump back in the game, Bella started summer camp at her new school yesterday and LOVED it – what I loved was being able to walk her to summer camp and then walk her inside and meet the teachers that run the camp, I even spoke to another parent! Bella made a friend who will be in her class and lives on our street! This morning Lola and I dressed early to walk her to the school, I’m feeling positive ‘cause I know I’m getting connected and surrendering to the UNKOWN.