Mama's family reunion last year was held at the old family home place. Which was even sentimental to me. I can remember when my grandmother would come see us, she would take my brother and me out there to visit our cousins (that we hardly knew). Well, I say cousins, they were the second cousins, twice removed kind. You know the kissin' cousins you don't kiss. And, I was the fourth generation to gather at the house and at the reunion there were two more. Now, the first generations are long gone, and my Aunt Alice, is still here, God bless her, so there were still four generations present.
It is an old farm house that the family has kept up and now serves as a hunting lodge for Mama's cousins, their sons, and grandsons. It is unique because they haven't changed a thing. They have just preserved it. The furniture is the same, the drapes, the paint on the walls, even the cracked linoleum on the kitchen floor. It is like time, for once, is standing still. The screen door creaks when it opens and swishes just before it slams shut. There is that wonderful old house "musty" smell that I have always loved.
The family gathered and ate in yard under the pecan trees. I asked my cousin about the zip line in the front yard that we used to play on and she was thrilled to show me the rusted remains high in the tree. And, yes the tree still looked as high as it did the day she dared me to jump off the front porch just holding onto what looked like something from the circus. (But, I was not going to be called some city girl sissy.)
I commented to Mama that I would love to photograph the place and asked our cousin, who now owned it, if he minded. Obviously, he was thrilled and said to come on by anytime. (I figured I might want avoid hunting season unless I planned to wear orange.)
So late yesterday afternoon I picked Mama up and we headed out to the country, camera in hand. The drive only took 20 minutes but it was a running commentary by my mother down memory lane. "Now, remember we turn left here, if you go to the right you go to the cemetery." Around the next turn, "Look, there's Ma Hattie's house." "I remember her but remind me, she was Grandmama's step grandmother?" "No, her real grandmother." When we arrived at the home place, I could tell Mama was excited. The light was just right.
I headed off to the back yard. I wanted to make sure I captured the whole place, the grape vines on the wooden arbor, all the out buildings, and of course the house with it's porches. As I was shooting one of the out buildings way in the back it dawned on me that the building was actually made of logs (and about to fall down). This place was older than I thought.
There was the barn with the ancient GMC pickup truck covered with dust, the old tractor under the shed, and the implements neatly hanging on the side of the tool shed. Back on the front porch the swing and wicker chairs were waiting for company. And, Mama was standing there in her own world, long ago. And from the look on her face, it was a good place.
As we got in the car to leave. She asked me, "Do we have time for one more stop?" "Of course, which way?" "Turn to the left. I want to ride by Aunt Katherine's. When we would come for Christmas, the family was so big we always stayed there." Then she added, "Mama always said it was exactly one mile from here." And, exactly one mile later, we came to Aunt Katherine's house, which I remembered. Mama just smiled and said, "This has been great. I can go home now." I laughed and said, "I thought you were home."