The Long and Winding Road Home
Back in Iowa my home
state gets me thinking about all
things past and present.
but from how I see now…It was a 14 hour drive one way from here to my hometown of Paullina, Iowa. That’s a long drive. A long drive gives all sorts of time for self-reflection. Breathing space. Time to saunter aimlessly through childhood memories. Hour after hour and mile after mile of looking out the window at what’s growing in the fields between here and there. It’s not just that my youngest brother passed away, and we buried his ashes in the graveyard at the Quaker Meeting House and sang a song for him. It’s not just that I visited the family farm again after many years, or talked to Bruce and Carol and Lowell and Eunice, among many others, whom I haven’t seen forever. And it’s not just that I drove to Gaza, a tiny town where I went to grade school, to see that the building has been bulldozed into a pile of unrecognizable rubble. Or that I walked down to the gravel pit where we played and swam on Sundays while growing up. Or that the view of Uncle Orren and Aunt Florence’s home is overgrown with brambles, untrimmed trees, leggy bushes and tall weeds. Or that my family and I dropped by to see my High School speech teacher on a whim and she welcomed us with open arms. She told my Mom and Dad that she wasn’t, of course, allowed to favor students for any reason, but in retrospect, she was admitting front and center that she secretly favored red heads. My five brothers and sisters and I were all red heads, and we adored her and knew full well that she adored us. And we knew, too, that pretty much every kid in school was a red head to her. It’s not just one experience in my hometown that changed me yet again, tugged at my heart strings and opened my heart, or molded my cup of life in yet another way — it’s many experiences, all piled together, all of the above, and more. I took photos and looked on in wonder at the difference between my memory of my past surroundings and the actual size and shape of things now. I stood by the rows of now ever present sky high and wide-as-the-world grain bins that are in every town. They weren’t there when I was young. But they stand everywhere big as Moses now. And by the time I arrived back in North Carolina, my now home, my experience of life had re-arranged itself into a new inner world order so to speak. Some ideas or priorities had fallen away somewhere along the journey home, some have grown. What I was most touched by were the people I grew up with, went to school with, and went to Quaker meeting with every Sunday. Their generosity and kindness run deep. And I am a better person from having been raised there, for having left there, and for going back to visit there. Thank you, my Iowa. Thank you, my Iowans, where the tall corn grows. I’m tippin’ my pretty green cap to all of you.
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