Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Going Home Again

I spent the last week in Vermont visiting my mother. She has not been doing well lately, having suffered a heart attack while visiting in California. So last Tuesday, I packed the kids in the car at 6 am, and we drove the 7 1/2 hours up to Vermont.

My mom lives in the same house that I grew up in and so my memories of childhood intertwine with those of bringing my children there to visit. I did a writing/theater class once and we had to describe a vivid memory of our childhood house. I found it difficult since I visit that house often and I have seen it change over the years. All my memories are jumbled and they are all vivid. The instructor likened my memories to a tree trunk with a center of childhood memories but with rings of other memories over the years.

One thing that hasn't changed is my mother's spirit. She insists that she is fine and willingly went along on our treks to the museum, berry-picking, to a play, and on a picnic. I hope I didn't overdo it but I'm just figuring out that delicate balance of making sure my kids are entertained while still having time for my mother.

She has mellowed over the years though, and it is fun to see. Back in the day, she could yell with the best of them; her motto was always, "Yell first, ask questions later." Now, nothing seems to bother her much. Oh, you spilled flour over the floor, oh well, I have a broom. And, of course, my children could do no wrong: There's no yelling at grandkids at Grammy's house. She hasn't, however, lost her edge when it comes to arguments and she spent a good amount of time arguing religion with my atheist husband. I chickened out of the conversation by cleaning the kitchen. While I think I still believe in God, I have trouble with organized religion. Another sign that my mother has mellowed: when I told her my issue, she just said, "Yes, I can believe that." This from the woman who attends daily mass.

Oh, and I ran into a woman that I knew from kindergarten, before kindergarten I think! Her mother still lives in the neighborhood and she was there and I came by. Talk about a blast from the past.

It's funny, going home again. I wonder what I'll feel like if the house ever gets sold to a stranger. Interestingly, where I live now in Glenside, is about 10 miles from where my parents lived 40+ years ago when they just had my oldest brother and sister (I'm the youngest of 7, like I said, Catholic). Maybe, my living here is really the coming home again.


  1. Hi Kate. Glad you had a good time, I hear Vermont is truly beautiful. I built my house next door to my parental home when I was widowed. Now my brother lives there with his family and has totally redecorated. Only the kitchen looks like home . .I'm not sure how I feel about that. It used to be the venue for all our birthdays, family dinners and Saturday morning coffee when my folks were alive. Somehow now it seems colder.

  2. glad your trip went well. the picture of the tree with the rings..vivid. i think there is something that happens to moms when they become grandmas...it blows my mind with my mom.

  3. and religeon...yeah we have a few of those interesting talks as well...smiles.

  4. Let the grandkids revel! That's what my grandma did, and we turned out better for it.

    As long as we went to Mass on Sunday... ;)

  5. P.S. Hope your mom is ok. Or as ok as she can be.

  6. Thanks everyone! More about Vermont to come!

  7. So- has Matt dragged you off to where we used to live? It's a hobby of his! I'd love to know!