I was just talking to a cousin of mine -her Mom and I are first cousins as her maternal grandfather and my Mom were brother and sister. Always good to be able to converse with Lori -just wish it had been a conversation we could have been having face-to-face instead of only on Facebook. But of course, we can't always have everything we want, the way we want it or when we want it, right?
When Lori -this cousin, came into the family on my Mom's side, she was my grandmother's first GREAT-Grandchild. Grandma already had 11 grandchildren and I can honestly say I know she loved each and every one of us but Lori -the great-granddaughter -well, she was indeed something else!
I've always been one who found little things about people interesting and with Lori, she always stood out for openers because her birthday is April 16th and that was also the birthday of the oldest of my first cousins on Mom's side -our cousin Nancy! And Nancy, I knew all along growing up, was most definitely, being the first grandchild, she held the position of being the favorite, if one really was Grandma's favorite! Actually Nancy, her brother Carl and Lori's Mom, my cousin Barb, were each a year apart in age and those three were the ones who captured Grandma's heart completely. The rest of us were kind of Johnny come latelys, ya know. We were okay as grandkids went and she loved us but not quite the same way she worshiped Nancy, Carl and Barb. And I was okay with that then and I still am today -no resentments -although maybe a touch of envy that they got to be around our aunts/uncle just that much longer than I did simply because they are that much older than I am.
Talking tonight to Lori, we were both on a very sentimental kick -mainly talking about her grandfather -my Uncle Ralph -and remembering what a very special man he was!
Actually, all three of my Mom's brothers were very special men in my opinion and having grown up with them being a very big part of my life along with my grandfather, it has given me what I realize is my idea of what men should be like, how they should act and think.
My grandfather was a very quiet man. He talked but not a whole lot but when he did speak, you had to strain to hear him because his voice was very low and soft -not gruff sounding at all like many men who have deep bass voices tend to sound. I remember when I was about 5 years old and my Dad's baby sister had asked my Mom if I could maybe come spend the night up at my Dad's homestead with her and Dad's brother -(Uncle Arch and his wife, Aunt Isabel and their children. Uncle Arch and his family and my youngest Aunt all lived together in what had been their family home in Morrisdale.) I liked the idea and coaxed Mom to let me go and spend the nite there -all of about 8 miles away from my home here -but I think Mom was a bit worried that even being that close to home, I might get homesick and be a big disruption in their lives if that would have happened.
However, she gave in and allowed me to go stay there overnight and when I came home the next day, they asked me if I had gotten homesick or anything and I remember I told them I had been a bit homesick but just for Grandpa's voice.
I don't know if it's the fact I'm really recognizing more and more that I am aging -have all the stinking aches and pains, stiffness in my back and leg joints that don't want to move with grace much less speed and agility these days as well as a few extra issues that have begun to crop up more frequently now too.
Maybe it's the combination of that and realizing I am on the downward side of my life now too -each day I'm on the planet now is one I acknowledge is taking me that much closer -that much faster too -to the end of my own life cycle too.
I've been diagnosed twice now in the past 10 years with cancer too -colo-rectal back in 2003 and uterine cancer in 2010. I had chemo and radiation, then surgery and followed that up with more chemo in 2003 plus, at the time I had the surgery, I learned 3 weeks later I also had two herniated discs then and it was that issue that really laid me low for quite a long time. Herniated discs or shingles -I am not sure now which I would judge to be the most painful ailment I've ever had because both of them are really nasty things to have to contend with and heal from!
My most recent check up though now with the oncologist -after having had my routine 6-month CT scan has now shown that there is a possibility the cancer has returned or is trying to return. Some spots on the adrenal glands for openers and some issues with my lower back now that showed as "hot spots" on the PET scan I had to have done about 2 weeks ago.
And maybe it is that possibility looming as part of my future that will bring about my end of time that has had me looking at things differently lately and trying to see the things around me in a different light, almost as if it could be the last time I will ever see these things -simple things like the houses around me, envisioning too the neighbors I grew up around, many of whom have long since (or some, a bit more recently) to their great rewards and recognizing then how much I really cared about them when they were here, living beside me or up or down the road and trying to recall various points about many of them to tell about them to my kids, to my grandchildren more now than ever before I want to share the stories I have in my memories of so many beautiful people who were part of my youth and also, my adult life as well.
I met a lady yesterday and as we talked and shared stories of our lives -very openly talked about how we each feel about many things but one of them being that she and I, we learned, share almost identical feelings about the houses our ancestors lived in! I, of course, live and have lived for about 90 percent of my entire life in the house built in 1903 by my Grandparents and the lady I met owns the property nearby here that had belonged to her grandparents and she uses it as a summer home to come to and relax there. Growing up, she lived in Pittsburgh but spent most of her summer vacations here with two of her great-aunts. And we both love the fact that we have these houses even though both places do need repairs, remodeling too, here and there but we love these old homes, warts and all.
We learned too that we both like to look around our surroundings and how much we love the scenes presented to us then by Mother Nature -the hills and valleys around the little village where I live and where she comes to relax, renew and find comfort in the beauty of the land, the trees, the mountains of the area -all of it as it comes together and is what we both regard as being "home."
I told her that with the recent turmoil in my life about my remaining in this house while several people -family and friends -have suggested it might be nicer or easier for me to give up this house and move into a senior citizen's type apartment some place and answering questions as to why do I want to stay in this big old house all by myself anyway?
Well I really don't WANT to be in this house all by myself but that's something too that I don't want to even think about moving out of here either. Why? Well because when I am in this house and I move about -whether cleaning it or fixing something to eat or just walking from one room to the next with no real purpose to doing that, I always get the feeling that because this is the house were I've spent the bulk of my life, where I shared it often as a child with aunts, uncles and many cousins along with friends but especially with my grandparents, that I still get the sense, the feeling that they are all here with me, still present via an essence instead of a physical presence now.
And I love sensing that within me! It,for me anyway, keeps them alive in my mind, in my heart.
When I mentioned this to her, she immediately told me that was the exact feelings she gets when she is here, staying for a week or two in her own family's homestead!
When I've tried to explain that sensation I get within me about my home to my kids or to other relatives and some of my friends, they have tended to look at me with the kind of questioning look that says they regard my words and those feelings as not being exactly sane, ya know!
But knowing now there is at least one other person on the planet who feels the same way as I do about our ancestry, our old homes, families and such really made my day for me!
Call it crazy if you want -I don't care! I still love living here -in this house, on this street, in this village and having known so much too about this little hole in the wall, backwoods area as this is -boondocks all the way, ya know -I'll say like my Dad's baby sister always said about her love for that old house -the Hill family homestead -that the only way she would ever leave that house would either be on a stretcher going to the funeral home or else, it would be kicking and screaming -fighting that loss off tooth and nail all the way!
I just want to be able to look around at my surroundings and memorize exactly the trees along the street, the flower beds by this or that person's home, the mountain laurel and other flora that is prevalent here in each season of the year. I want those scenes permanently embedded in my mind so as to be able then after I leave this place for whatever is in store for me in the hereafter, that I can then conjure up those sights in that place too and remember this as having been as close as I could come while living to have my own heaven here on earth.
Is it really that beautiful here? Well to me it is whereas to others, I'm sure they'd say "No way!" But beauty of all types is truly in the eye of the beholder and it isn't always in the form of some spectacular formation of rocks or green fertile fields and such but it just is what it is that appeals differently to each individual.
And this is, for better or worse, definitely my perception anyway!