A couple of weeks ago, I traveled back in time a bit to visit my old home place that I have spoken of often. It was a revelation that I was not prepared to have. This was the farm that I had lived on for the first 10 years of my life and the farm I had not been back to since the day I had left and there lies the problem. This farm was forever etched in my brain and my heart. It was a glorious wonderland of sycamore trees, a flowing creek and daisy fields. There was an apple orchard in the back field and a thicket of saplings that we had played in, built forts and created a whole new world for only the young. As we drove down the lane, which is much shorter now, over the “skinny” bridge that my daddy and papa had built, finally, after about 8 years of driving across the creek in our old Ford. We never knew if we would make it each time and on those special occasions when the creek was high, well, it wasn’t pretty! That bridge was larger at the time it was built, and we kids had written our names in the concrete, but on this visit it felt like driving tight rope. As we drove farther up, I noticed someone had built a house to the right…. what was that doing there? who in their right mind would put a house there, ridiculous!… as we drove further, I saw the “really” old home place that had always been there. This was an old house way back then, that I had always imagined we could do a “makeover” on and we could have as a second home on the property. This house is where all the beautiful iris and jonquils were growing every spring. Also there were old country roses and not far were the blackberry patches. A beautiful place that could have been saved and I have since been told by my sister that my daddy had stored hay in the house. I can’t make since of that, didn’t he know what a treasure it was? As we drove a bit farther I searched frantically for the big sycamore tree by the little wading stream. Where was this huge tree that was my brothers climbing tree. He was the only one that actually went to the top, he was a daring young boy who in my eyes could do no wrong. Probably still a little true if I were to be honest. Where was that tree, I couldn’t find it, there was only a scruffy row of cedar trees and brush trees along the stream. How sad I was, had it fallen down from age, was this a foreshadowing of the beginning of my disappointment? Yes it was, as I looked ahead, I noticed that the distance from the stream to our old home had gotten very short also, I know it had been farther! The house looked awful! Old and gray and all grown up. There were cars which looked as if someone lived there. I did see the huge cedar trees in the corner of the yard that we would play marbles underneath because there was never much grass so it made for a good hard dirt ground perfect for marbles. The only problem was there were always a big chance we would be covered in ticks from those trees, to my momma’s dismay. As we sat there in the car, my sweet husband happy we had gotten there without being shot…yet! My oldest son and daughter in the back seat attempting to be good sports and endure this blast from the past even though I am sure they had better things to do. I sat there and felt an overwhelming sense of fear. Not a fear of being caught trespassing, for which we were, but a distinct fear, a fear of what I had lost. Why did I come back here? What was I thinking…..this place was Xanadu to me. This farm was the best years of my life, this was the very essence of who I am. Life on this farm was perfect, there was never any fear, always happy, running thru daisy fields, eating apples, playing fort, climbing trees and wading in the creek. My momma and daddy were in love, my brother and two sisters were coming of age. All was right in the world, or I had thought. In reality while looking at this disheveled property, over grown and not taken care of, I was reminded of the last days on the farm, the hurt and the pain and the sadness for which my family had endured. All that drama came rushing in on me in that very moment…as an adult, I then felt that pain, a pain I had never allowed myself to feel. For the first time I got it, I understand why I saw sadness in my families eyes, I was the only one who felt love and missed my beloved farm. At this moment I understood all that was lost and I could not get out of there quick enough. It broke my heart. I was taken by surprise by the emotions I was feeling, why did I ever go back there? As we drove back down the lane, my family was quiet, they knew I was trying not to cry, even though I was not successful, they respected me at that moment of pain. I am not sure they even understood why I was so upset, I am not sure if I did. They allowed me to ride that out and not mock me( in love, it’s our way), which would commonly be the next step, they allowed me to get through it and make the first joke. They love me and I know it. I couldn’t even explain it to them, as I am even struggling now to put in words the essence of what happened. I just know that what I had once held frozen in time, pure and beautiful became real, nothing pure nor beautiful, the back stage horror had been revealed. What a loss, what a waste. I had to come to terms with life back then. Forty one years ago a family had been torn apart, lives had been changed and we were no longer one big happy family. What is worse is, were we ever? The reality had been exposed. But at the same time a new reality was revealed….look how far I had come, look what God had given me in return, He made all things new, He gave me a family, one big happy one. Well in the name of full disclosure, One big happy, sad, real, sappy, loving, crazy, troubled, tormented yet totally honest family. We are blessed, not perfect, but REAL! That is the secret, keeping it real and putting God first and knowing that HE will sustain us even through the tough times. We have had tough times but we have had also some amazing times, raising four kids is never boring or easy and if I can keep, with God’s help, my brood together, safe, sane and in one piece if only to honor my parents, who lost their lives together with the family in tact. We were still a family though estranged, without our father, by his own choice only to have another family with kids, which was hurtful, but we survived. That is the goal, to survive it all and hopefully with grace and the ability to move forward. They say, you can’t go home again, actually you can, just don’t be freaked out when you get there and it is not what you thought it was. A home is a family and to be totally honest, my old home looked about like what our family had become, grey, disheveled and sad. Hence my tears, coming face to face with the stark reality of it all. But on the flip side, look how out of the ashes we came, all four of us kids, strong and survivors. Momma and daddy may have given us their best gift of all, a strong will. That is what I pray my four children are blessed with, a strong will, to live and experience life, no matter what comes against them, to endure battles and to remain strong in faith and keep the Lord alive in their hearts, as to continue this life, free from fear and burdens, have a family and love life. Touch other people’s lives and be a strong witness of what can happen when people are the best they can be. And once you make peace with the past then you can go forward to the future…no looking back, don’t want to turn into a pillar of salt, ya know!