Friday, November 29, 2013


Every time I wander down the hallways and past the foreign tchotchkes and ceramic angels in my grandmother's house, I feel an odd sensation that the proportions are off.

The enormous portraits that feature a different season of life are much smaller than they used to be. My tiny mother sits atop her mother's lap, flanked by siblings in matching outfits, eager to capture one second of 1962. I used to crane my neck to look into each of their eyes. I stopped in my tracks as I strolled past them during our visit earlier this week. My head lined up with the wallpaper above the frame.

I followed Owen into the living room as he took a self-guided tour of one of my favorite homes on the planet. It was then that I noticed the grandfather clock wasn't nearly as intimidating as I thought it was. Its booming chime didn't startle me nor did its scale compare to my height. It was strange how different everything seemed, but my youngest son's eyes lit up on the hour, every hour.

Later that evening, Jonathan told me he needed to step outside for some air clear of cat dander. He and I bundled up and stepped onto the back porch. The brick railing that lined the tall concrete deck and kept kids from falling several feet barely hit above my knees. There were much fewer steps leading down to the yard and the expanse of plush grass and golden hardwoods had shrunk in recent years.

The squishy recliner, the round wooden table, the sun room with a gorgeous lake view, and the waters of the deep green lake itself - they all felt small. Too small.

I stood there thinking everything in this house looked out of place, and then I realized what was wrong. I'm a far cry from the kid who treasured grilled cheese cut into perfect quarters and chicken soup in an over-sized mug. I'm years from the little girl who sat on the dock with pen and pad and let the movement of the water inspire lines of poetry. It's been decades since I have rummaged through my grandma's closet for warm afghans, worn dolls, and hats from a time I'd never seen.

Her house isn't different. I am.

As I sat mourning my childhood, I saw my oldest son head to the hall closet of my Mema's house, the one that used to be stacked from floor to ceiling with board games and puzzles. He pulled down a classic and took a left to my Mema's room. He walked up to the giant bed that would require a jump and peeked beneath it to try to spot a cowering cat. Then he stood on tiptoes to peek through the high windows for a gorgeous view into a vast body of water full of happy fish, playful turtles, and the snakes my late grandpa would've warned him about.

Carrying that dusty old board game, he walked into her bathroom and he found her. He looked up into her warm eyes and he didn't miss a beat.

"Mema, do you want to play Chutes and Ladders with me?"

She didn't miss a beat in response and headed to the kitchen table that spread out large before him. Nathan shuffled a stack of paper and pencils out of his way. Among his work included a very factual story about giraffes, a picture of a princess, and a love note to his Mema. Beneath his work were writings pulled from the formerly gigantic desk in the corner office. They were filled with eerily similar stories penned by my nine-year-old self.

Once the game was in place, he scooted his chair closer to her so he could reach his blue game piece and he did a happy dance each time it landed at the base of a ladder. We were a few minutes late to dinner that evening, but it didn't matter. Nathan wanted to play a board game and my Mema was not going to miss out on that.

It was in that moment that I saw it. I found the magic.

My childhood is not gone, y'all. It's just in a different body.

Well, three actually:

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