Healing with acknowledging the past

An old house on Cox's Creek. | Photo by Angela Turner

"The magic thing about home is that it feels good to leave, and even better to come back." -- Wendy Wunder

In just over one week my family and I will recognize in each of our own ways that we lost the matriarch of our family a year ago.

A week ago, my aunt made the most heartfelt and accurate statement: "I miss her so much, if I was having difficulties I did not need to burden her with them only to be near her and things felt better."


I remember dying to get away from home, to start my own life away from my family, away from the small things that birthed me and to get on with this thing high school had been preparing me for and would soon hold tight to my pocketbook--college.

And now it seems I can't remember home enough.

There were many times in college when I knew I'd made poor decisions and I I didn't know what to do with myself but I knew exactly where I wanted to be. And I'd make the drive, past the rolling hills and I'd snuggle into bourbon country just to feel her presence. Just to be home. Because settling in the comfort of my own fears wasn't and still isn't enough.

I wanted to be on the back porch, with her beside me. I wanted to sit there and listen to nothing but the creaking of the rusted chains that held that old wooden swing up.

We'd watch for hummingbirds, squirrels and other oddities. We'd make small talk every now and then but there was an unwritten rule that she wouldn't ask the hard questions. Every now and then she'd smack my leg and say something like, "you know mammaw loves you" and then she'd follow it with you old booger, to keep the mood light.

Sometimes we'd make the adventure down the driveway, around the bend and down to the creek where we'd share memories of when she and I were younger and spent many hours wading, looking for shells and crawdads and snakes.

She was home.

Earlier this month I went back. I went back to that porch swing, the creek and the old wooden bridge.

Although my mammaw wasn't there, my uncle was and he had a birthday to celebrate and so we did it up right with apple pie.

And then my favorite guy and I wandered down the drive and around the bend to where the road meets the flow of the creek. Just as my mammaw and I had done nearly all our lives. This time, as we made our way down, he told his children about the last time he and I made the same route with mammaw. And I told them about mulberries and crabapples.

Once at the creek in the spirit of mammaw we waded across the water and went up to the old wooden bridge. Although we didn't make it all the way across the dilapidated old boards, we did make it about one fourth of the way, just enough for a fun photo.

I couldn't let the nostalgia of my youth and the comfort of my mammaw's spirit end there. I pointed to an old abandoned house seated in the middle of acres of green pasture.

She had taken me up to that old house many times and I'd daydreamed about a family that might have once lived there. I watched two young wild things do the very same thing I did as a child.

Sometimes, it's the things that we're running away from that we need the most in life.

This week Corbin's Mayor Suzie Razmus signed a proclamation declaring a Week of Diversity in remembrance of an infamous racial cleansing incident that occurred 100 years ago and such has created some mixed emotions. I've read opinions and beliefs from very white privileged males and females and I've heard from minorities who have been mistreated.

Some say this proclamation isn't even the start of healing and others say we shouldn't have done anything and call it silly.

Perhaps I'll write my thoughts about it next week. But I will share this about home and healing. Malcolm Gladwell said we can't keep filing these things away and forgetting about them without drawing any conclusions about why they happen.

I think for a period of time I thought I could run away from home and not try to understand why I wanted to leave so bad, I tried not to feel anything, I tried to pretend I was something else. But it's in the trying to come back, in the drives home, and acknowledgement of the past that I ran from as an 18 year old that I'm healing.

I can't wait to go back home.

Angela Turner is a staff writer for The Times-Tribune. She can be reached at aturner@thetimestribune.com.

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