Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Odyssey 2012, Takes Me Home

Today, I found myself picking up a body from the airport. She had died in (of all places) Texas and was being transported home to Michigan for burial. 
 As I drove several hours through the city as well as the country side, I began to think of how lucky I am that I get to do what I love each and every day.
The fall colors are just about at peak right now. And while others are cooped up in offices, stores and factories, I get to enjoy these amazing days that the Michigan weather has given us.
The bright reds, yellows, dark greens and browns are a delight to witness. I realized that this is the first year that I've ever been able to see this. Standing in the cemetery yesterday brought a tear to my eye because of the beauty surrounding me.

My last post, we had taken Spencer to his first Gay Pride Parade. It warmed my heart to witness a young man like him enjoying being who he is instead of hiding himself like so many of us had to do in the past. His positive outlook on life now helps me to realize that he is capable of great things not only in his school days, but for years to come throughout his lifetime.

Now, to continue with our Odyssey....

On our last full day in Texas, the sun came out and warmed the air and our souls. We decided to visit the Arboretum where there was a traveling display of Chihuly's blown glass art. The combination of finely manicured gardens and the glass installations was inspiring.

Then to round out our stay, Spencer had requested a night out with his G'uncles. We were happy to oblige him.
When I left my retail job a few months ago, my co-workers pitched in and got me a gift card for my "retirement". I was directed to use it for something special. Dinner out with Spencer was the perfect occasion to use that card.

We left Texas the next morning. Sad to be leaving our friends. But excited to be heading toward home. But first, a stop at my old childhood home.

In 1981 my mother underwent open heart surgery to remove a tumor from inside her heart. At the time, she was a year older than I am now. As you know, she survived until just last year. It was a slow recovery though. So when my Dad's father died a few months later, our family wasn't in any shape to attend his funeral in Arkansas.
Before that year, we spent every summer there on my Grandpa's farm in the Ozark Mountains. I haven't been back since. I had decided that I didn't want to see either of the old houses. I want my fond childhood memories to be intact, forever. So I set the GPS for the cemetery to visit my grandfather's grave for the first time. Wouldn't you know, the GPS took us right past both of the old houses. The one house that my cousin now lives in looks great. The old farm house however, is suffering from time and neglect. I opted not to photograph either home and hold my memories and childhood photos close to my heart.

I managed past my emotions and found the cemetery. Ed was joking that he could "feel" my grandfather guiding him to the left as we entered the gates of the old country cemetery. Just then, he looked down and there at his feet was the headstones of my grandfather and his wife of many years.

Grandma Flo didn't seem so happy to see me though. As I reached to remove the clump of grass to photograph her stone, I found an army of ants crawling all over my hand. I let the grass stay there.
What was I thinking wearing flip-flops in a country cemetery in Arkansas?!

I felt like ants were all over me for the rest of the day.

After paying my respects to my beloved grandparents, we found our way back to the freeway and made it all the way through Tennessee and into Kentucky before stopping at 1am to rest for the night.

This Odyssey has changed the way I see things. For the better. This was no ordinary vacation. This was Odyssey 2012! And without a doubt, right here and now, as you read these very words with eyes that sparkle, this golden day, in a perfect world on an emerald planet while our hearts beat and blood flows and angels peer over our shoulders, I think we might be the luckiest people alive. To be living in this world right now where all this can happen, anytime we want to make it happen. Thanks for coming along.

But wait! Yes, there's more!......


MorningAJ said...

I love the Chihuly photos. What a lovely exhibition to have seen.
I'm enjoying your Odyssey.

Moving with Mitchell said...

What a trip and what a great way to use that gift card!

Ms Sparrow said...

What a sweet post! I love seeing your journey through your eyes.

laurak/ForestWalkArt :) said...

nice post stew...
i LOVE the glass art!! at first i thought the red glass were! so beautiful. ONE of the things i'd love to try...some blowing!

what a perfect way to use your gift cert!! sounds like a terrific vacation...but, how about your back?? did it heal quickly...or did all the driving afterwards keep it all tensed up?

you're lucky to be doing what you love...(i'm lucky that way too)

i have not visited the graves of my parents...or my sister (even though the drive is only a couple of hours away...) just too sad. i remember them all the time anyway. a piece of my brother sits on a shelf at home. no, not an arm or a leg...but some of his ashes... was good for you to go since you were right there ...except for the 'ants' incident...maybe that was her way of saying 'well, you sure waited long enough to stop by!!'

happy weekend!

Jim said...

An eventful trip to remember, Stew! That glass installation looks very interesting! I can imagine when the light hits it from different angles.young coupleI agree with you about the younger gay generation.....they will be freer to express themselves openly than we were. Just yesterday we saw a gay couple walking hand in hand down a street in the felt so good to see this! It made me very happy.

Unknown said...

I often visit cemeteries viewing graves of people I do not know. it was almost strange to see a headstone with a name that I know. And to know that my grandfather is buried there made me realize that he really is gone. I'll always have my wonderful memories of my time in Arkansas.

Unknown said...

I would have loved to go back in the evening when the glass was lit from below.
It's amazing when we see a young couple. It really does make us feel good too.