Monday, March 19, 2007

On The Road Home

“You can't go home again.” Thomas Wolfe

Monday finds me rather emotional and feeling a bit strange after a nice visit with both my parents yesterday afternoon. I have had every intention of writing a story over the weekend, but it just didn't come... Mom, Dad and I ate dinner, and sat around chatting about so many things. Of course, my Dad has been in an increasingly odd state where he will get hooked on a subject and he can't seem to let it go. If he wants something done, he'll repeat it 20 times until you have done what it is he wants. Lately, he's obsessing over this country song that I sang for him at the family reunion and it's all he can talk about (makes Mom play the demo that I recorded long ago in Nashville over and over). Then he'll ask me repeatedly if I remember a certain event (from the past) that happened before I was born and I'll have to tell him no once again. Mom will jump in and remind him "Dad, Jackie wasn't even born yet." Then he'll draw a puzzled look, and sort of shake his head. He's still doing well mentally (mostly), but I watch him and he seems to get around worse every day.

Dad has had adult-onset Diabetes, which he found out kind of later in life, I think maybe he was around 50 when he was diagnosed as borderline, and it went on from there. Consequently, the related health problems that have plagued him would have seemingly killed an ordinary man. Somehow, he has survived and stayed with me this long though. It's great that he's survived several strokes (resulting in a good deal of neurological damage), a Quad-bypass heart surgery, blood poisoning due to kidney issues, eye surgeries, and he still goes on smoking and living by his rules... it's down-right amazing I guess. Still, the reality of the degenerative condition for me is hard to watch. I am seeing a man who could at one time pick up a truck by himself, and who once punched out a horse just for kicking him-now barely able to stand without hanging on to something, and finally just months ago gave in and began to use a walker... He is a man of great pride--that same pride has not surrendered easily.

Everything has its agenda in this life, and I (try so hard to) believe that it is part of the big picture, so I am forced to roll with the flow... and take everything "One Day at a Time" (Mom's voice echoes through my head as she has repeated that very phrase at least a million times if she's said it once).

I don't normally like to over-use popular quotations, but I think Thomas Wolfe said it best when he said "You can't go home again." My how that rings true in such a painful sense. Would it be wonderful to go home again?? Some would say yes, others no--but believe me, I have tried and I seem to continuously do this over and over again... to no avail.

I feel like a complete child inside my soul, and I think it is a permanent scar. To say that my childhood was happy is an understatement, so it's completely natural that I would feel so attached and attempt to hang on to it with every fiber of my being, because frankly Adulthood sucks far worse (at times, not all the time) than they ever told you it would. Remembering back, I think of the times when my parents and sometimes teachers would try to tell me that my life had just begun ("You have your entire life ahead of you!") and that you had so much to look forward to... I try to look forward to things, but I spent so much time worrying about my family and loved ones sometimes, when I know that it is futile to do so... we can't control what will happen any more than we can control the weather, or another human being's thoughts or actions.

I know that in reality yesterday has passed, so time spent beating ourselves up over our past or obsessing over it and trying to go back is only time wasted--then the future is uncertain for sure, we don't even know if we'll be here tomorrow so we can only plan hopefully towards it. All we really have is today, right now, this very moment. It determines our future, of course and it will eventually be that past that we so pine for so we better make it a good one... we really need to live more in the moment everyone.

More than that, just talking to my Mom yesterday about her life and about how many times she narrowly escaped death herself, I was hit with an eerie yet magical realization of just what a miracle it is that I am here and alive on this earth right now as we speak... there had to be a reason... a big reason for why my Mom and I made it. That goes for each and every one of you (we're all such miracles and you don't even think about it do you?). Your life has more meaning than you know... don't take it or anyone for granted.

Yes, Mom nearly met death so many times. She told me that she nearly died of pneumonia twice as a young girl, and once when she drank some stagnant water from a nearby stream. Many hard times struck, as they will [only the strong survive]. She'd carried a stillborn child for nearly 3 months as a quack doctor couldn't discover anything amiss, but she said she knew something had to be wrong... so she was almost taken out by the resulting toxemia that time. She went on to have other miscarriages. All these things before I was even born, so I was a gamble from the start.

Then finally I came along, against so many odds not the least of which being conception itself. Then, being born to two such beautiful souls, and being given such a great start in my life and being cared for so much (how can I say I'm not Lucky?). I often have felt guilty about my childhood when I have had so many friends and loved ones who's childhoods were something they would pay to forget altogether... but it is where we come from, it determines who we are, and that is the person that we are destined to be. Can we really hate any of that, lest we hate ourselves? And although I sometimes think I hate myself, I really don't... I just have trouble keeping myself in line and keeping focused on today, this very moment the one that is going to be tomorrow's past, and will inevitably sculpt, like tender time-sensitive clay, today's tomorrow.

So what if we 'can't go home again'? Those of you who don't want to wouldn't care, but good or bad it is part of you. I spent so much of my youth planning and plotting to escape it because I wanted to grow up and break free, and live my own life only to try so desperately to get it all back again.

Maybe we shouldn't try to go back home, but rather bring home back to us, as in securing a permanent place in our hearts where we can put it for safe keeping. I don't want to lose it, and I know that kept within my heart it's safe and I can visit anytime I like. At times it comes gushing forth through my paintbrush or my pen or the keys of my piano and within my song and with that, I can keep it with me always... That's true freedom.

If I don't see tomorrow, then you can say "There She Lies, I knew her." And my tombstone, according to the silly little quiz that Blu posted over at BluBloodUnlimited determined to be my obituary, as it is stated. ['What will your obituary say?' at]. Thanks Blu for the extra-added humor!! And at least Chuck Norris will miss me!! haha.


Chelly said...

Jax, what a beautiful post that was.


Cynnie said...

Aww..I love my parents too..
daddy died 20 odd years you're a lucky duck to still have daddy!.

I had a wonderful childhood..or i would have had one if i hadn't have been so headstrong..
( my pawpaw always said..Cynnie ..grown lasts a long long time..enjoy being a kid)
I of course..didnt listen.

you should post a singing video!..
let us obsess over this song!

RockDog said...

Nice post, AJ.

Blublood said...

Wow, I am at a huge transition point as of finishing this read Jackie....

This hits so many places for me. I want to say so much but to contaminate such a great post would be just criminal.

Thank you for this....Thank you so much...


awaiting said...

Wonderfully beautiful post, Jackie.

I lost my father(legally adopted me) in 1998. It was tough, as I was pregnant with my first child...his first grandchild. He was a doctor...and was going to assist in the delivering of my baby. He was the first to hear her heartbeat.

He passed from cancer. It was tough watching him succomb to the disease...but he was a fighter. he continued to see patients until a month before he passed. He was a civil rights leader, active in politics, and one fabulous father.

Now when I go home, I expect to pull up and see him gardening...but he is not. He is not there. Home is still 'home'...but it just isn't the same without him.

I think I will read your post again...excellent!

captain corky said...

Thanks for that post Jackie. It was very touching.

JINKS said...


A special thanks for allowing us all to read the love written on your heart.


AuntJackie said...

Thank you everyone... I didn't realize it would be that well received... just the way I felt...

Glad that it helped and maybe inspired.

Nauma said...

AJ, your post beatiful. Thanks
Tu post es hermoso. Me hizo recorrer caminos internos agridulces. Gracias!