Updated: May 10, 2019
When you grow up and leave home but continue to live in the same town as your parents there really isn’t much of a reason to spend the night at their house. Recently my mamma, who is 86 years old underwent a knee replacement. After her surgery and a short rehab in a swing bed at the local hospital my brothers and I felt it was necessary for someone to stay with her at night. I packed up a few things and headed over the first night. Worrying that I would not hear her I didn’t get much sleep getting up and down to check on her. As I would lie there trying to settle in and go to sleep my mind would start wandering and all of the sudden, I was overcome by a flood of thoughts and emotions.
At that moment I realized the last time I slept in that room was the night my daddy died. I replayed that night with every detail as if it had just happened even though 38 years have passed. My daddy died of cancer. One of the cruelest, most painful deaths I have ever had to watch anyone endure. The last couple of weeks of his life were spent in the hospital in and out of coherency under the influence of morphine trying to make him as comfortable as possible. He fought until the bitter end. All of his organs had basically shutdown, except his heart. I remember the doctor telling us it was only a matter of time that when his heart wore out, he would go peacefully. It was peaceful, surrounded by all of his loved ones. He took one last breath, and in that moment, he was gone. He passed away after midnight and we were all exhausted, both physically and mentally. Larry and I went home with my mamma to spend the night with her. A sense of peace and comfort swept over me in that room that night. My daddy was home in heaven, no more suffering and no more pain. Not wanting to let go but at the same time not wanting to see him like that anymore.
As the nights continued staying with my mamma after surgery my mind would still wander uncontrollably, and I kept remembering things about that room. Our house was a two bedroom so that room was shared by my brothers and I as very young children with bunks and a single. That room was the fun place for our toys and special memories of growing up, as well as some not so special memories…measles and chicken pox to name a few. I remember our eyes hurting so bad at any light when we had the measles that mamma had to put our blankets over all of the windows. Johnnie and Bobby had cute little wool western blankets and I had a floral. I thought about the years as we got older and my parents folded out a hide-a-bed couch every night for several years for them to sleep on, so I could have my own room as they saved money to add on to our house. It made me think about all of the sacrifices my parents made for us that many times we weren’t even aware of.
Continuing to spend the night I remembered there was a dark side to that room, too. I remember the nightmares I had in that room and the nightmares that continued for many years after I was in a room of my own. I remember a particular nightmare that wasn’t a nightmare at all because I was awake. I remember being molested by my older cousin in that room when I was so young and innocent. My mamma was cooking lunch and ran out of something and needed to run to the grocery store. He was at our house, so it only made sense he was going to watch us for just those few short minutes. In those few short minutes my life changed forever. That room changed forever. That room had a secret, I had a secret. A secret that held me prisoner until I was grown and set myself free by telling that secret. I will never allow that secret to control me the way it did as a child.
As the nights went on “going home” to stay with my mamma I knew I had to keep focusing on the good memories and get past the nightmare. I begin digging out old photo albums and using my cell phone to copy old photos. I found our baby books, I found the receipt from the hospital when I was born. I found our old school papers, drawings and stories we wrote. The good memories of that room began to come back after a few dark nights. It was a safe and happy place again. I started thinking about other things about that room and realized that after the birth of my first three children I went “home” for a few days, so my mamma could help take care of me and the babies. Those were happy times and precious times. I remembered how delighted my mamma and daddy were with their grandchildren and how they cherished every moment with them. There sitting next to the cabinet that held the photo albums was the old copy paper box that held my children’s toys from the time they were born. In that box were their life stages. First the Fisher Price roly-poly ball that Trent received his first Christmas, the rocking chiming bell, the turtle pull toy, the dial up phone and many other toys that every grandchild and great grandchildren have played with over the years. And let me just say they don’t make them like they used to! Those toys have survived over 43 years and are still in shape for a few more great grandchildren.
Going home to take care of my mamma was a memory I will forever cherish, not just because I was able to take care of her and pay back a small fragment of the many sacrifices she made for me, but to spend time with her and also reliving memories of my room and vowing not to let any darkness of that room cloud the light that room holds in my heart. It was good reminiscing forgotten memories, counting my blessings and going home.
I read a saying somewhere and it said “ Sometimes when times are dark we think we’ve been buried, but what if we’ve just been planted!” Bloom where you are planted.