There is just something that keeps calling me back. Maybe it's a fear that the good memories will fade with time unless I trace over and again the path to all I have become. Driving familiar roads making note of the things that remain; only older, warn and broken down. Grieving, in a small way, the things that are no longer there; houses, grocery stores, barns. Time seems the robber of memories. But what we do remember must be met with the reality that someone remembers those things differently, if at all. We remember events, people and places according to the the effect that they had on our lives. Perhaps we remember them as obstacles in our path while someone remembers them as the challenge they needed to push them to achieve more. However we remember those things, they are etched in our minds somewhere. Whether we choose to remember or not, they can creep to the front of our mind.
Most would not know about a little town in Iowa called Clarion. But when I hear mention of this community, I smile and my thoughts are quickly turned to Highway 3 and the straight route to Aunt Lois and Uncle Bob's house. Turn left, cross the railroad tracks, go past the elevator and turn left once more. There on the left still stands memories that have been with me since I was a little girl. It is where Bob and Lois helped me to understand the Christ in Christmas. It was there that I rode ponies with my cousin Kevin and learned to ride a go-cart. Because of the distance between my home and theirs, I wasn't able to go there as often as I would have liked but I was determined to stay in touch. I didn't want them to forget me and I didn't want to ever forget them. I wrote letters to my aunt and uncle and waited anxiously to receive a returned letter in the mail from them. When I would receive one of their letters, I would read them over and over again until the next one arrived. I would write about school and family and anything that I wished I could tell them in person. They encouraged me to keep writing and to keep working on my music. Lois and Bob were my cheerleaders and just what I needed at that time in my life. I have never lost contact with this dear family and as often as I can, I turn my car toward central Iowa and Highway 3 just to receive the warm hugs and to enjoy times of reminiscing. We talk about family, friends and faith. We talk about dreams and ideas and grandkids and anything that happened between visits.
Last summer I drove that familiar road once again. On my way into town I stopped my car and walked a few paces in to where I had stood in May of 2006 as we laid my dear Aunt Lois to rest. I stood there for a few minutes to thank God for her influence on my life. I recalled her laugh and how much I loved to hear it, wishing that I could hear it once more. I didn't stay there for too long because that wasn't the reason for my trip to Clarion, really. I was on my way into town to visit with my uncle Bob, who inspires me with his zest for life at 94 years old. I also couldn't wait to spend time with my cousin, Judy, who in some ways reminds me of her mom. We spent a short time visiting about that sad day and how it seemed as though it was just yesterday. But mostly we spent time laughing about good memories and talking about here and now.
The road back to Iowa changes with time. Barns that once were bright red and standing tall are faded and peeling if not completely gone. Houses that once were full of life stand empty and dilapidated with weeds so tall that it's no longer possible to see the path that leading to the door.
Somehow, though, I am able to replay the laughter over and over again. I can retrace each step taken and each mile driven to keep those memories alive. I hope never to forget and selfishly...never to be forgotten.
I don't know the roads that you have traveled in life. But I hope that as you read this, you are taken to a place in your mind that brings you fond memories
I hope that no matter where you've been that you have found a peace that passes all understanding.
I hope that you have found God in the midst of it all.