Life in Georgia is good. The winters are warm, the people are nice, and I live in a safe community with decent schools. I have a husband who loves me even when I don’t deserve it, smart beautiful children, and maybe the best in-laws in the history of existence.
Easter 2011. They're not frowning, just squinting because of the sun.
I also attend a wonderful church, which has been a great blessing. I have always felt loved and accepted, even when I was new and too shy to talk to anyone. I think when I finally started talking, they were shocked. I can talk the hind legs off a donkey, as the saying goes, and that comes as a great surprise coming from someone who has barely said a word for two years. Once the conversation started, it didn’t take long for me to fall in love with these very special people. I’ve learned from their humor, insight, and even their pain. They love my children and spoil them rotten. They are my Georgia Family–grandparents, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, and my dear friends. I love them, absolutely and without exception.
But I miss my Kentucky family. My flesh and blood family.
I miss my 83-year-old, slightly ditzy grandma. The crazy old lady that used to get my notoriously late-sleeping brother out of bed with cold water or by dragging him out of bed by his feet. The woman who cannot sit still and let an empty trashcan sit on the curb longer than 2 minutes after the garbage is collected or a coffee cup sit on a counter for longer than 10 seconds before she’s putting it in the dishwasher, whether you’re finished with it or not. The girl who didn’t date boys who didn’t have the ration points for gas and had no qualms about hitching a ride with a truckload of sailors on leave. My grandma, who is the most forgiving and faithful woman in the world and who taught me what it means to be a true Christian woman. Time is running short and I’m terrified I may not see her again.
I miss my aunts and uncles. The aunt that, when it snowed, would smear my red lips, nose, and cheeks with chapstick if I came within arm’s reach. The same aunt who took pictures of my baby hiney because she thought nothing was more precious than an infant’s chubby behind and she was right. My other aunt who made saying the sentence, “I don’t like spiders” a reason to burst out laughing. The uncle who respects his mother’s opinion so much, he has hidden his smoking habit from her his entire life. The other uncle who loves cooking shows, turtle soup, and above all, his nieces and nephews and all their children. The aunts I haven’t seen in years and the uncle I’ll never see again.
I miss my cousins. Growing up, I lived two doors down from 3 of my cousins. One who ate onions like apples . Another who I always think of with a swirly even though he’s a military father of four beautiful daughters and a long anticipated son. And the one who chopped off the baby curls it took me two years to grow, who let me watch movies with him, and basically tail along behind him for most of my early childhood. The other cousin who loaned me his purple Skidz because I loved them so much, who always made me laugh, and who is now battling a chronic and debilitating disease. His brother, the clown, who loved mashed potatoes more than any kid I’ve ever seen. And all the others who share the same precious memories of loud chaotic family get-togethers and summer days spent in an apple orchard, a car port, at the creek, or in a gully.
I miss my nuclear family–the original four. My mom, who doesn’t take crap from anybody, who sings like an angel, and who can do absolutely anything she sets her mind to. My dad, the foodie and workaholic, who kicks butt on Jeopardy and who loves it when a plan comes together. I even miss my brother, the spoiled brat who never had to do any housework, who is too smart for his own good, and who, without fail, has a smart-alec remark for everything. I miss his beautiful children and it breaks my heart that our kids are missing out on the shared memories of cousins. The memories that bind a family together, reminding us of what’s important, even when times are hard. The memories that keep those who are gone alive and present in our lives. The memories that make us who we are.
Finally, I miss my best friend, who is also my cousin. My soul mate. We are different in a lot of ways, but none that matter. We share the same insecurities and struggles, we know exactly what the other is thinking, we complete each other’s sentences, and we share the same memories. We know why the word, “hunkered,” is the funniest word in the English language. We know that it is possible and so easy to laugh so hard that it hurts and makes breathing impossible. We know that it’s important to put enough distance between two people when walking down stairs so that their heads won’t knock together. We know that the best gift in “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is two turtle doves. We know that two girls traveling in the back seat of a car leave behind a lot of stray hairs. We know that body suits are the most sentimental and grown-up articles of clothing. We know that it is ridiculous to think a man’s arms are sexy. We know that people who actually go to school every single day in their senior year of high school are chumps. We know that it is an excellent idea to ride around in a van full of boys you barely know. We know you should never say in front of a little brother what you don’t want broadcasted to a visiting friend. We also know that sometimes we will get on each other’s nerves and say or do something incredibly insensitive but that it doesn’t matter because we will always forgive each other. Together, we know everything. We are kindred spirits, bosom friends, partners in crime, two of a kind.
Best Friends in Gatlinburg, Tennessee a million years ago.
I have been missing my family so badly for the last couple of weeks. Visits home are rare and so short, it’s impossible to see all the people I want to see. I desperately want to spend a couple of weeks at home to see old friends, visit old haunts, and just be in the place where I grew up. I want to be where everybody knows everything about me. I want to see hills again. I want to sleep in my old bedroom in the log house. I want my old Kentucky home.