Day before yesterday, Sherod and I drove around for a good part of the afternoon. As much as anything, Sherod was re-familiarizing himself, I was getting a lay of the land. We fell in love with a piece of property — 17 acres of gently sloping land with a pecan grove, fruit trees, hydrangeas, daffodils and hyacinths, a creek as one of its boundaries. Yesterday our realtor friend helped us see the house that anchors all this grace and beauty. Crazy inside and ultimately waaayyyy too big for us–over 3700 square feet but the reality of a move here became a little more concrete.
But what really mattered on Tuesday was a visit to the cemetery to bring some flowers to my mother and father-in-law’s grave. Juanita’s side of the plot is not covered in grass, yet, a bald spot of Alabama red dirt. But the gravestone already has her name and dates of birth and death–seeing all that had Sherod and me both choked up for a minute, and me insanely grateful for the sense of connection to Juanita. I don’t begrudge my own mother’s decision to have her ashes scattered in the Rio Caldera. But when we move here, I want to be able to come out and visit that grave, maybe because that is the definition of rootedness isn’t it? To have our dead beneath our feet, a connection deep into the land itself.
Last February when I came to do the half marathon, I brought Juanita out to the cemetery on a cold winter afternoon. She was too frail to get out of my rental car but wanted me to go make sure Earl’s grave was OK and to just stand there for her to see. The memory of that moment abides and represents a moment of such deep connection with a person I had to learn to love, who earned my respect and gratitude. I understand a whole lot better now, why people visit graves and do such fun and silly and whimsical things as this (imagine, these little solar powered decorations shining in the dark). I suspect I won’t have quite the imagination but I can see myself honoring the passage of time and seasons.
We head back to Florida today, will be back in Ford Laurderdale tomorrow. The when and how is still more than a little blurred, but the outline is there, the road is there, for our return. I will have my ECF job, God willing; I will hang out at the little market where Latinos, primarily Mexican, do their shopping. Maybe that will lead to a new ministry, or just new friendships. We will more than likely first rent a house then buy a piece of land to build something with a small carbon footprint. Sherod and I will garden, occasionally do some canning; we’ll have a porch and a swing, the biddies, geese and goat. I don’t imagine I’ll stop marveling at light through the Spanish moss early in the morning. And one day, I suspect I will wake up and say, “I’m home.”