One heart

By the time I moved to the mountains, I had pretty much lost all of my family of origin. My Aunts, Uncles and cousins were still in Newport News and I was not so far that I could not come home for holidays, if I needed too. Often with work and not having a lot of time off, I learned to enjoy Thanksgiving away from the family. My family was always together for holidays and when most of the key players passed away, it left a big void in my life. I filled that void with my friends in the mountains. Spending Thanksgiving on the mountain became my tradition, and even after I moved from Rockbridge County, I would drive from Grottoes to North Mountain to share the day and meal with friends and strangers at Mira’s house.

On the drive from Rockingham County to Rockbridge, we got one station, I think out of Roanoke or Charlottesville, that always played Alice’s Restaurant … which we heard… in its entirety …every Thanksgiving, until hearing those first dulcet tones became part of the tradition too !

Driving up the driveway you could see the first signs of the gathering with folks on the porch waving or talking to one another and you knew already…it was never going to be the exact same group of people, though we all wandered through that house on North Mountain, touching one another’s lives in ways that would leave its imprint forever. We would gather on Thanksgiving Day, from all over the mountains, or other states, though most from Lexington. Arriving early, to help with cleaning, arriving late, because of things we had to take care of in our own homes… walking out of our cars to hugs and kisses from old friends and new, noticing one another’s children and how much they had grown … watching through the kitchen window as folks arrived and learned of the changes that had occurred for each of us since the last time together…sharing new knowledge or joys and as we stood in a circle of love and gave thanks for all that was right in the world…we had that moment in time, where we were all of one heart.










“End of October the sleepy brown woods seem to nod down their heads to the Winter, Yellows and grays paint the sad skies today, and I wonder when you’re comin’ home.” It is not just our birthdays coming up, that you will miss again, but it is the turning of the leaves, the crisp feel of the morning air on your skin, the sweet music that is sung into the night from a porch where the warmth is contagious. I miss your presence in my life and after so many years of not being, I am angry with you again. It started this summer as I walked Kesey everyday. Wow ! Grandchildren ! They open your heart to a love you can not describe.  As I walked him and got to know him and delight in him, many days I thought “you missed the best part man!” I am coming up on the part of my life where we said we would live together again and if either of us could carry a tune anymore, or even if we could not, we would sit in our rockers on the front porch,  singing down the worries of the day and following our hearts, dreaming our dreams, rocking away as our life settled in around us.

So yes, I am angry again, because you do not get to see that dimple, those big eyes and that baby face that just melts any negative worries or stress from the day you may have had. I want to place him on my shoulders and dance around the room with him until he laughs and laughs. And when he goes home I want to turn to you, the one person I could always turn to that loved our children with open heart and soul, just as deeply as I do, and see us smiling and saying ” Damn that boy is fine! ” So you are not here and I am angry and sad and I miss you more than I ever thought I would, especially now, with Fogelberg in the background singing one of the first songs we ever sang together, with it being two minutes until you would have been 63, and I wish more than ever, that you were here.