Walking Mother Home

Ram Dass said once that we’re all just walking each other home. These days I’m thinking about my father in light of that insight.

It’s been almost a month since my mother died. She was ninety and we had a good long time together, but losing her still hurts. I imagine it will for a while. She lived, and died, in the home that she and Dad shared for about fifty of their seventy years together.

Seventy years. Dad would say “seventy years and two months.” From the world as it was in 1951 to the world of today. I don’t think the external change is the important thing, though; the important thing is the journey they took together, in all the different stages of their lives, the lives of me and my sister, of our children and our children’s children. I think I know them pretty well, and I’m realizing as I write these words that much of what they went through together, learned about each other and themselves, the battles fought and milestones shared, the joys and sorrows and everything in between, I will never know in any meaningful way.

For the last couple of years Mother was in poor health and very frail. As far as I know Dad never wavered, never hesitated in his role as caregiver. I’m sure he figured that was part of marriage; the one who needs care gets it from the one who can give it, and home is where it’s supposed to happen. The house they lived in was built by my great-grandfather on land that had already been in the family for a generation. I’m not sure Dad ever considered anywhere else as a fitting place for the end of their journey together.

Mother and Dad had a long walk, with twists and turns, mountains and valleys, that only the two of them saw, and last month he finished walking her home.

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A career working with teenagers on the fringes of society has made me both sensitive to and appreciative of the complexities of character and the struggles, inner and outer, that we all wrestle with in one form or another. My writing emphasizes character development over action, and, as a lifelong Southerner, the rhythms and cadence of the Southeastern United States influence both my spoken and written voice.

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