“The Town That Built Me”-Part Two

The day before Thanksgiving we kayaked 12 miles on the Silver River. My life is partially defined by the beauty and the mystery that lies in the water that flows there, the moss hanging from the trees, the spring fed water, the swaying grass just below the water’s surface, the alligators, turtles, fish and the monkeys.  My father would launch the boat in to those waters and my family would spend hours slowly going up river feeding the monkeys, pointing at the alligators, swimming and eating cold fried chicken.  I am not sure how others feel about their home town but for me those simple memories will always hold more meaning because they define me.  My life is Florida was experienced around the lakes, the rivers and the beaches.  Our home was on Lake Kerr and that is where I spent most of my time alone writing as the gentle breeze blew across my sun toned skin.  My grandparents lived on Lake George and we would visit there with other kids through out the summer.

Thanksgiving day was a world wind as it always is.  My sister takes on most of the responsibility with regards to cooking.  She and mom each make their star recipe’s and I watch trying to help when I can, they know better than to allow me to cook. Before our dinner I went over to the home of an old childhood friend.  Her relatives were like my second family as a child and through my high school years.  It was the first time I had seen some of them in more than 27 years.  As I made my rounds trying to talk to each person and catch up I found myself realizing how much time has passed me by.  So often I catch myself wondering if at 80 I will still feel youthful in mind but be reminded by my body how much time has passed.  As I stood in the room among this distant second family I studied every hair, every wrinkle, I remembered past events and I wondered what they were thinking of me.  As I spoke with whom I have often referred to as my second mom, I saw a woman who could be me in 20 years.  She had me interested in art with finger paints at the age of 3.  Every memory of her includes some creative endeavor, the sound of laughter, an out door activity, a free spirited lifestyle and the memory of her always giving of herself unselfishly. These are words that I have always wanted to define me.  I see so much of her in me and it makes me smile.

When I arrived back at my sisters for our dinner I found myself extremely anxious.  This was the first Thanksgiving since I was 17 that my mother and father were under the same roof.  They have only been in contact a few times since then.  I could feel the un-comfort yet joy they were feeling, it is hard to explain but I could feel the love they still have for each other even though they are in such different places in their lives.  I wondered if they were reflecting back on the mistakes, the happy times or the desire to say something directly to each other yet unsure of what to say.  They smiled and laughed as we all talked but it was obvious they were avoiding eye contact.  Dad teared up a few times though I am unsure over what, mom made sure to stay pre-occupied with her 1 year old great grandchild.  I am unsure why it was so memorable, perhaps we all secretly wish our parents could shadow the “Happily Ever After,” that our culture preaches to us through the movies.

This Thanksgiving will be remembered as one of the most memorable one in my adult life.  It reminds me to be grateful for all that I have, that time is short, that family time is the most important time spent and that love never gets old!  Sending love to all of you…..

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