My husband Steven and I took an unplanned trip to our “old stompin’ ground” in Upstate New York at the beginning of this month. Steven’s father’s health had taken a turn for the worse, and he left this earth in the early morning of April 4. Steven and I journeyed to New York to be with his family, so the trip was bittersweet.
We packed up our van in the rain and drove to West Virginia to my niece Samantha’s house. It was nice seeing her, her husband, and her two little girls that I call my “redheaded fairies.” Those two are just so cute and lively you can’t help but smile when you see them. The following day we headed for Albany, NY, by way of Brook’s B-B-Q in Oneonta, a local favorite you can only get in that area (It’s a must for us whenever we go back to Upstate!). We completed the trip to Albany, (through more rain), and stopped by Steven’s mother Wanda’s place. His sister (Kristen) had arrived from California, so we were able to visit with them for a couple of hours before going on to our hotel.
The next day we found time to go to my brother Joel’s house to have lunch with him, his wife (Donna), and my nephew (Millard). Joel still lives on the property where my father lived as a boy and where my parents raised my siblings and me. All of the original buildings were built in the 1800s and are in rough shape, but it still feels like home. The people on our mountain speak a bit differently than most; I enjoyed being able to speak in the tone, lilt, and vocabulary that I grew up knowing. After lunch, Joel and I walked around the property, and I was able to collect a few relics to take home to North Carolina.
The next few days were spent with Steven’s family making plans. We settled on the obituary write up for the newspaper and a date for the burial ceremony during the summer. It is not uncommon for people in the north to wait for warmer months to bury remains; the frozen ground makes it almost impossible to dig a grave. Steven and I also took some time out to walk around a couple of thrift stores to debrief; sometimes you have to step away.
After several days, it was time for Steven and me to begin the trip back to North Carolina. We said our goodbyes to his family and left Albany. We decided to take a detour and drive past the house Steven grew up in. We were surprised by all of the very interesting changes made to the home and property: buildings were being constructed and several statues were placed on the grounds. A lot was going on; still, the house remained the original dark red color that we were both familiar with.
From there we drove past the country church where Steven and I were married. There it was, still looking the same. About 30 miles later we passed by SUNY Cobleskill, where Steven and I met, & smiled as we drove by. It's been nearly 40 years since we said, "hello" to each other there (and 36 since we said, "I do.")… I think it's gonna work out for us.
Then it was back to my family farm to pick up the relics I had collected. After a brief visit with Joel and Donna, we packed up the van and got back on the road. We spent the day traveling back to West Virginia, spent the night with Samantha’s family, then drove on to Lynchburg, VA to spend a couple of days with Genette (our oldest daughter) and her husband, Abe. Steven and I were glad we stopped there for a couple of days. We are now home again in North Carolina.
There are stories in all that we do; people in our lives, the journeys we take, and the choices we make. Then the day comes when we pass on and leave a space on this earth for someone else.
For now, this time belongs to you and me, so let’s LIVE!!
Dance, sing, go outside, visit friends, call someone, have a smoothie, pick strawberries, collect relics, jump in the water, splash in the rain, play with the redheaded fairies in your life… just don’t pass on without leaving a story behind.