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Just take a moment to look at the shot, taken from my mother’s back porch Sunday morning, March 13, 2011. My sister Angie has moved into the house. She took this picture and sent it to me.
Angie says that her first night in the house was the first good night’s sleep she has had in over a year, that she immediately felt at peace, like she was coming home. It gave me a sense of peace, knowing that she felt safe and secure for the first time in a very long time. Angie’s personal story is her own to tell, but let’s just say that all of us have had a run of bad luck since Mama’s death, and at least one of us deserves a break.
Angie is taking steps to buy the house and lot. She promises to be a caretaker. It is my hope that everyone who enters the house will be able to feel the same sense of peace that Angie has found there, at last.
When she heard the news that she could move in, Angie went to Mother’s grave site, sat and cried for hours.
I felt a profound sense of having got just one thing right.
Long ago, just after our step father died, my mother had a long talk with me. She asked me to take her house upon her death, to be its caretaker. It was the only home she had ever known, she told me. She wanted it to go to someone who would do what she wanted done and love it as much as she did. She knew I would obey her wishes, even though I told her I didn’t want the house, that I would probably never live in it. That’s okay, Mama said. I just need to know that you will take care of it, that you will keep it in the family and never let a stranger live in it.
My mother was a contentious, contrary, fiery, sometimes mean old woman, but she loved every one of her children, raised us right, and sacrificed enormously at times for us.
As an example of her strong will, here’s a story that was repeated at her eulogy. For many years the family reunion was held each year at Mama’s house on the Saturday before Easter Sunday. One year, Easter came early and the weather was just too cold. So Mama moved Easter and held the reunion later in the spring. Everyone obeyed.
She loved to sit on her back porch and watch the birds fight in her giant fig tree, watch the hummingbirds dart around her feeders, and listen to the mourning doves.
Mama loved it when we all gathered on the back porch and carried on, laughing and teasing each other and arguing, watching the babies. She loved all her grandchildren fiercely. She was proud of every one of them.
It is my foolish hope that settling the matter of the house will be a step toward healing all that has torn this family of siblings apart.
It is my dream that we will gather again on that back porch, tease and laugh and argue and get loud, and enjoy each otrher, as we once did under Mama’s strict eye.
There is always a solution.