Looking for answers to life's questions

Why Go Back?

The last three weeks have been more than a little hectic for reasons than I can’t explain here. It started when my friend of almost 20 years finally called to let me know she was back out of the hospital again. It’s like a catastrophe cloud follows her everywhere. She went to Hawaii last year and at the end of a wonderful trip, she stepped down off the bus wrong and broke several bones in her wrist, ankle and shoulder. Just when she was finally on the mend, she would take another fall. I mentioned to my son that I would like to go see her because she sounded so disheartened, I didn’t know if she had it in her to recover one more time. My son and his wife decided to buy a plane ticket for me to go see her.

An earlier trip she made to Hawaii

I knew we would not be visiting for long periods and on seeing my friend, a one-hour visit seemed almost too long. She is in a beautiful assisted living facility with 24-hour help. It was a lovely apartment and so expensive I couldn’t even stay one month, much less the year she had been there. She had another fall the week before I got there. So, on seeing her fatigue, I said my goodbye after the hour visit and promised to stop by on my way back to the Phoenix airport.

She felt much better at our second visit. Always the smile.

Then we headed up the mountain where the rest of the visit was with my son and see what they had done to the house and the pre-school his wife owns. This was going to be an interesting trip. I left there nine years ago after becoming debilitated by an extreme case of Bells Palsy and had no desire to ever return.

Gracie making herself comfortable on the sofa bed

Gracie trying to figure out why I was there. She had plenty of staff already.

Since being diagnosed with IPF, I wasn’t sure I would be able to handle the altitude of 6000-7200 ft. It was harder than expected. I was able to visit with a few other old friends and we tried some new and old favorite restaurants. They are a world apart from what I have here in Oregon.

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I thought about the home I had up in the Arizona mountains where it was often difficult to get things to grow. My son drove us by my old home and every tree I had planted there was still present and thriving. We had even gone into the forest and dug out a bundle of three tiny trees growing together that stood little chance of thriving where they grew. I didn’t want to damage any roots by separating them so they came all together. Three different conifers all growing as one tree still thriving after 19 years.

These trees were knee height when I planted them.

The house has changed, with an expensive copper roof and the little wishing well my husband  built getting one too. There were small changes like a house being built-in the empty acre directly across the drive from our house. I preferred looking at the empty lot of trees.

The new house in the lot across from my old house. Everything changes.

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The manufactured home next door that my mother had owned still had everything I planted there as well. It did my heart good to see the stand of Aspen trees, butterfly bushes, lilacs, an assortment of evergreens all still standing. It was a lot to walk away from but I could no longer manage it all in the condition I was in.

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That seems to be the case again now, so more changes are taking place. Two days after arriving home from my trip, my son and his wife arrived at my door with a borrowed pickup truck. Stay tuned.

Have you gone back to an old homestead? What feelings washed over you?

“Tears are words that need to be written.” ~Paulo Coelho

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

 

 

Comments on: "Why Go Back?" (76)

  1. Well now, this is an interesting post Marlene. First up, your son and his wife are reunited? If so that must have been wonderful for you to hear. Second up – it is always a time of mixed emotions going back isn’t it. I confess to be not much a looker-back, I tend to walk away and keep going, which can be an issue in itself sometimes. But there has been the odd time when I revisited places to lay ghosts or just see it with new eyes. That’s when you find out if you really have let something go – alarmingly, sometimes I’ve found out I wasn’t quite as free as I had thought 🙂 And finally, the arrival of a son, his wife and a truck. I’m hopeful – but will wait to hear more from you. Interesting times my dear! xoxo

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Thanks for sharing the pictures and stories of your old stomping grounds Marlene. It is a beautiful place, but that snow wouldn’t be enjoyable at all. Just too much of it! It seems as if you may be hinting at health changes and a move? I hope that things are not too bad…I’m anxious to read what may be coming.
    Your question about visiting spots from the past– I live relatively close to the home I grew up in as a child. On occasion I’m in that neighborhood and drive by. Most of it is the same although the house was slightly remodeled not too long after it left the ownership of my family. I feel detached from it mostly now. probably because it’s been so many years. It’s fun to drive through the old neighborhood though, and remember where friends lived, where I used to play, the tiny little creek down the road, the fields I would roam in…
    Take care.

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    • It’s nice you can still recognize the places you used to go. I did that with my mother and sister trying to find some of our living spaces in Germany. Most are unrecognizable. But this was my 35th address so far. I go to see old friends because they are so few and far between. As I age, it’s harder to make new friends so I cherish them more than the homes. I know many around here that have grown up here. It’s quite foreign to me. I used to drive through my old California neighborhood but it’s all different now too. You do have to detach from them to feel at peace. Thanks for stopping by. I’d like to see that little creek. 😉 Sigh.

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      • 35 moves. Holy cow. I thought none of my friends could relate to how often I’ve moved, but you just may have me beat. I learned to turn moving into a way to evolve, and look back on moving as a good thing. How do you feel about all the moving you had to do in your life?

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      • I could write a book on moving and what it’s results have been. Maybe I’ll give that some thought. If not a book, then a very long story. Maybe should be part of my memoir. 😉

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      • I could see moving as a novel-in-stories. A memoir could be told that way, too. Intriguing!

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  3. The return that was heart-wrenching to me wasn’t to an old homestead, as I grew up in rectories owned by the churches, but to the location of the camp my dad built in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. We’d sold it years before, but when I went back in 2001, I expected it to still be there. It wasn’t. It had been torn down and the forest had reclaimed the land. Even the outhouse was gone. My dad had died the year before, and it was as if someone had tried to wipe any trace of his presence off the face of the earth.

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    • Oh my word, Liz! That would be heartbreaking. At least he didn’t see it like that. Then again, maybe he would be happy to see the forest reclaim the land. I was just happy to see all my trees survive. I cared nothing for the house.

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  4. I truly enjoyed your post! When I’ve gone back to see an old home I felt such longing for the life that used to be mine.

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    • Many do feel that way, Becky. The trees are what spoke to more than any of it. It’s good you had a life that was worthy of missing. The memories are always there. Thanks for stopping by and sharing this.

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  5. I’ve tried going back a few times and each time never worked. It’s just not the same and maybe for me that’s a good thing. I am all excited on what is happening in your world right now. I will be looking forward to your next post! ❤

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    • I really didn’t care about the house at all. Just the trees and the old friends. I cherish friends more than anything. I’ll try not to let the next one take so long. 🙂 Hugs to you.

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  6. Must have been so bittersweet to visit your old homestead. It is beautiful and peaceful. Lovely that your trees and plants are doing so well and hope your friend continues to improve..

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    • Thanks so much for stopping by, Cindy. It was a beautiful place but I’m glad to be shed of it and all the snow, I do miss my trees. My friend thinks she needs to be wrapped in bubble wrap. 😉 She broke a rib last week trying to put on her blouse. It’s awful to be so fragile. My heart hurts for her.

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  7. I can’t go back to the places of my childhood and younger adulthood, they’re too far away. But earlier forays weren’t promising. Why is that people always take away those things that made one’s former home distinctive and beloved? I’ve been back to homes I owned in this country and have been pleased at the progress of my plantings, but less so with the condition of the houses. Perhaps my homes attract people who aren’t interested in home maintenance! I await the next instalment with interest!

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    • I was pleased to see the copper roofing on the house since what they gave us for it was almost like stealing it. Mostly I was delighted that they didn’t take down all the trees I’d planted. Very few are as caring of their homes as we are. Sad. Whoever gets this one will have quite the deal as well. I’ve worked so hard on it. Always like to leave every place better than I found it. I’m guessing you are very much the same. 😉

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      • Since I made almost a career of flipping run-down, unpromising places, I simply don’t understand people who receive a house in good shape and then let it run down and deteriorate. If you make it better, it will reward you.

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  8. I’m happy you were able to see your friend and your old home, Marlene. Boy, talk about a cliffhanger! I’m not sure I can wait to hear the reason for the truck. Although Virginia will always be my home, I haven’t been back since I left 15 years ago. One day, I hope to return, but to a different area of the state. Thanks for sharing your trip with us. xo

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    • Thanks for stopping by, Jill. It makes a difference if you have a reason to go back or not. This was unplanned as was everything in the month of April. Your comment of going to a different part of the state sounds like a story. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  9. An interesting post and very nice that the things you planted are thriving. We revisited our last home to discover everything had been uprooted ad replaced by gravel or grass.. I know I shouldn’t care but I found it heart breaking.

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    • I know exactly how you feel, Cathy. You put so much of yourself into the earth and someone comes along and digs it out. My son and I had planted a memorial tree for his father in their yard and when the new owners bought it, they got rid of it. I have one here as well. The lilacs are in the memorial garden for my mom, dad and the kids dad. I won’t know what happens to them but hopefully, they will be enjoyed by future owners. I did take grass out of several places as the ground and climate wouldn’t support them. Thanks for stopping by, Cathy.

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  10. Oh Marlene, What a gift your Son gave you to be able to meet up again with your long time friend.. So wonderful to see you both smiling and happy together and so pleased you enjoyed your stay.
    No wonder you have been exhausted lol..
    And So lovely to see where you used to live, it is often nostalgic to go back to a home we no longer live in.. But to see the garden and the trees you planted still there and thriving, showing us that nature moves and grows too, just as the new homes spring up in and around us..
    I loved your photo slides Marlene.. And so, so pleased you had such an enjoyable time..
    I look forward to your next post and your adventure in the Pick-up Truck..
    That Quote memorable
    ” “Tears are words that need to be written.” ~Paulo Coelho,, Another favourite author of mine LOL..
    LOVE to you dear friend.. Take care. ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Sue. Your kind words make my day. My son has a great heart. He was there when I visited my friend and was very helpful. Just a gentle nature. The altitude let me know I would not be making the trip up there again unless I’m finally on oxygen which I’m hoping to put off as long as possible. I’ll stay sea level. 😉 We have beautiful sunshine so I’m going to try for a walk. Love and hugs my friend.

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  11. Another lovely post from you. I won’t go back to houses I’ve been happy in. The second last one had lost the entire garden (that I had planted) to make way for cement. The last one had lost its exquisite roof tiles (handmade in the 1800s), to be replaced with new cheap shit. I can’t even drive down the road its in any more.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh my goodness, Jill!!! That would break my heart too. I’ve gone back to a couple that stayed lovely bit I’ve lived in so many that it’s hard to be attached to most of them. The ladies that covered my mother’s place with dark porches and dark paint broke my heart too. Her place was so light and airy it made you feel good. My son said they painted the whole inside dark too. Sad. People are weird. Thanks for stopping by.

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  12. Marlene, I am so glad that you got a chance to visit your longtime friend and venture back up the mountain to reconnect with your past. I love the slide shows and being able to peek into that moment of your life. As to my going back to my home, it’s complicated. You know my story and why I’ve only been back to Germany once since 1984. It was a good visit, but I didn’t go anywhere near where I grew up. I do however return to California every year, which I consider to be my real home. Home of my Heart! That’s where I found love, acceptance, happiness and friends I spent time with every summer. Our old homes there look mostly the same, in part I think because there are homeowners associations that make it hard for people to change too much. And yes, I too find it harder to make new friends at this stage in life! You’re one of the treasures that bring a smile to my face and a sparkle to my heart! 😘

    Liked by 3 people

  13. ❤️Special time and memories for you. Reading this made my heart smile and sigh. Paulo Coelho’s words are very true. Take care my friend. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Definitely tears have a meaning and are not be disregarded.
    I sometimes drove by my old family home where I was born and grew up, when my mum was still alive. It’s heartbreaking. A feeling to have lost one’s root is how I would describe it. I often feel torn apart by having moved abroad twice (although it brought many good things too).
    I hope your next step won’t be heavy on your heart and soul.
    I enjoy reading your thoughtful posts – you come across as an interesting and gentle soul.
    Al the best for your future

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for your heartfelt comment, Judith. Your words moved me. You probably know better than many that lost feeling. This is my 35th address and there have never been roots. I try not to get attached to the houses. I’ve lived on several continents so I get it. For me it more about the people I’ve left behind than the house. Thank you for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Tears are words that need to be written so often many times over. It sounds like you are on another adventure soon.

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  16. It must have been heart warming to see the trees you planted growing to maturity.How heart wrenching though to visit your old friend now in a downward spiral. I do volunteer work in a care facility, and it’s always heart wrenching to watch gorgeous people declining.

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    • Thanks so much for your visit, Chris. I appreciate your take on this. I’m happy about the trees too but seeing my friend continue to decline is very hard. Working in a care facility is difficult work. It was a more beautiful facility than any I have seen. Still a tough situation. Glad there are people like you helping out.

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  17. Marlene, how brave you were to go back to your former homes. They look lovely. The things we do in love last, I really believe that. Even when we lived in base housing we knew we would leave, Jeff and I always loved to leave it better than we found it, for someone else to enjoy. Yes, I’ve had the experience of seeing plants and trees that were small when I planted them, grown to almost unbelievable size over the years when I went back to see. What’s this about more changes? I will be eager to hear. Blessings and love to you my friend.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for stopping by, Julia. It’s the given in life. Things are always changing. It’s like trying not to read the last page of a great novel. I’m trying to make the book last as long as possible. 😉 Hugs.

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  18. How wonderful that the trees you planted are still there. I don’t often go back, but one of my saddest returns was to a cottage I rented when I got my first proper job – it was almost a ruin and the garden was an exuberant tangle of plants… so bad, in fact that I had to literally hack my way in to begin with! There was a huge pear tree and hedges filled with amazing plums. I created a vegetable patch in one of the clearer areas, but other than pruning and harvesting I just enjoyed living in my own little jungle. When I left, the ancient cottage was sold and the new owners ripped out every tree and shrub and laid down a lawn, put in formal beds and filled these with annual flowers. Although I didn’t plant the trees that were lost, seeing them gone was devastating – they were part of the history of the cottage.
    So, I try not to go back to old homes now.
    I’m on the edge of my seat waiting to hear your next episode….

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    • It’s nothing dramatic but the post was already too long so I figured out I would break it up. Maybe only dramatic for me. I’m with you in being devastated by ripping out wonderful fruit trees for lawn. It would make me ill. I care more about the plants that get lost than anything they do to the house. I didn’t care for the house, too modern, but planting trees and shrubs has always been my thing whenever possible. I would have loved to see your cottage. Sounds like my cup of tea. 😉 Thanks for stopping by, Jan.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. You would think we’d learn–you really can’t go home again. Whenever I drive by a former home, I am disheartened by what seem to be sad changes. But it must’ve been very nice to see the trees and the plantings thriving! I’m glad you got to see your friend–she’s had a very tough time of it . . . but her smile is beautiful. That Gracie cat looks a great deal like my Roxie–I do love a tortoiseshell kitty!

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    • I’ve only been by a couple of places and this one was close to where my son lives now. At one time he owned my mother’s house but had to sell it. I care more about the trees than the house anyway. My friend has the best smile and thank you for noticing. She was the one who started me quilting. I get a lot of “Gracie did this” photos. 😉 They are fun. Thanks for the visit, Kerry.

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  20. Marlene, thank you for this lovely post. Returning to a place where we lived in the past is often deeply emotional. Your observations on the details of change are striking.

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  21. Marlene, this is a cliffhanger ending! And what a story. You did a wonderful thing visiting your dear, fragile friend. She will never forget that. And you did a very brave thing, going back to visit your old home. The few times I did that, it was unsettling, because so much had changed. I often think that our memories are better kept as memories.

    I have to talk to you about trees. As a child I loved the old magnolia tree in our yard. Beyond that, I took trees and their beauty for granted. They were there, and I loved them, but that was that. When my husband and I moved to Massachusetts in the 80’s, we were somewhere, and I was under a copper beech tree. It was a marvel. The tree and I were one. Childhood, beauty, goodness, and humbleness were all there. Suddenly, I understood the huge importance of trees, not just in the tree, but what it gives to us. I love trees. I learned about Liberty Trees. It must have been a moment for you to see those little pine trees you planted now big and strong.

    I didn’t know your daughter-in-law had a preschool. That is exciting. I hope there were plenty of books in the classroom when you visited. 🙂

    Best to you , Marlene. Apologies that I was long winded. Looking forward to your next blog post.

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    • I am so happy you joined in all our long winded conversations here Jennie. I like having them and don’t care how long they are. Conversations are important. I grew up in apartments with no understanding of the natural world. Now I know that trees are living, breathing creation and have feelings. All plants have feelings. It’s been widely researched. I love that the copper beech tree pulled you in and loved you back. What a story! The pre-school is a conversation elsewhere. Then you will understand why I adore you so very much. Thanks for the visit.

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      • With trees, I feel badly that I didn’t appreciate or understand them until I grew up. Maybe it was the tree that actually made me grow up, helped me to have deeper feelings for others. Now, I wonder what your daughter-in-law’s preschool must be like. I hope you have that conversation elsewhere. I always want to help children and teachers. Did you know that was why I started my blog? If I shared what happens in my classroom, then it would/could inspire other teachers and parents. Thanks so much, Marlene. I’m off to school now. Donna the quilter is bring the quilt in today! It’s back from the long arm machine and she will now do some hand sewing. The children get to watch!

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      • I’m so anxious to read all the details of the quilt, Jennie. We could probably talk for days on so many subjects. I’m heading outside to work at pulling weeds and get things planted. Have a wonderfilled day.

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      • I learned so much today, Marlene. The long arm machine was able to make any kind of stitching pattern on different parts of the quilt. The stitching in the ‘endless skyway’ is patterned like clouds, and the stitching in the ‘gulf stream waters’ is patterned like waves. How cool is that! Donna sewed the edges with the children today. She uses a leather thimble. Children watching a needle being threaded and then sewing is a wonder for them. My next post on the quilt will be all about the sketching and designing (photos!) and picking fabrics, and the beginnings of the face/front. Not sure of the right term. Did I say photos? Then the following post will be the finished quilt. Thank you, Marlene!

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      • I love seeing long arm quilting but those machines usually take up a lot of room. Especially the professional kind. It is so fascinating to see quilts come together. Looking forward to reading more.

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      • It is fascinating! The YouTube video I showed children of the long arm was an enormous long arm. Donna still can’t get over how Milly did all of her quilts by hand. As she was sewing today she called me over to say, “See what I’m doing? Milly did the whole quilt like this.” Thanks, Marlene!

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      • I was amazed that Milly did it all by hand too. I do mine all on a home machine but I don’t do anything fancy.

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  22. A touching journey, Marlene. Thanks for sharing. Nice to reflect but to know when to move forward is priceless.

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  23. Such a lovely post Marlene. I am glad that you got a chance to visit your longtime friend and see your old homestead. I only gone back once to visit an old place and it was to see it with new eyes. I was happy to find out I was free of the bad memories linked to that place. What an interesting ending! Oh you got me so curious now. Can’t wait to find out what your son and his wife brought with them in their truck…

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    • Thanks for stopping by, Dominique. It was a good last visit there. I won’t be going back and it was a good closing. I guess I’d better get started on that cliff hanger of a story. Not so dramatic as it sounds. I just hate to write long posts. People have a hard time with long anything. 😉

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      • You are right about long posts. Very few read them. I have to be careful about that. I admit sometimes my posts are too long but I am trying to make them shorter. Unfortunately, people don’t have time to read much these days. I noticed that ever since i started blogging even I read less. Perhaps, I should start using those audio books but I just like holding them in my hands. Plus, I like the smell of a new printed book. Much love Marlene!

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  24. I’m so glad for you that you could meet your old time friend again and even visit your old homestaed. And best of all that all trees you’ve planted are still around! And how they thrived when they’ve started at knee height! A bird gifted me with an acorn past Autumn and left it between my hibiscus – now there’s this little tree! I will have to replant it carefully so that it can grow without trouble. 😊
    And that picture of Gracie and the seven dwarfs was a hoot! 😄

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    • Replant the tree sooner than later and best in late fall. Oaks get big! I didn’t notice the dwarfs when I took the picture of Gracie but saw them when editing the photo. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by. I’m going to catch up soon…I hope.

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  25. I can relate to the bit of disappointment of traveling all that way, only to be able to visit a friend a short time, accommodating her stamina. My Grandma Trulove is 99 and when I go visit her she is usually asleep. It’s a 2 1/2 hour drive, and after the first visit, I’ll sometimes go entertain myself in town, then come back an hour later and try again. But after that, there’s nothing to do but drive all the way back home. It’s not her fault, I love her no less, but I am greedy for her time, since I’m so aware it’s limited. I thought of this when you mentioned your short visits with your friend. It’s so good of you to go see her.

    You are brave to go look again at that old neighborhood and restore a connection for a little while, back to those painful days when you were forced to leave in order to get well again. I’m glad the trees are still there! Now you get to compare them with what you had imagined on the day you put them into the ground. It happened for me once, when I visited a place I left when I was 10 years old. I went back at age 25 and thought something didn’t look right about my childhood home, in fact, this enormous pine tree was blocking the view I remembered. And then, I realized with astonishment that this tree was three feet high when I lived there. The cute little tree that my dad had planted in the yard was now a mature tree and looked as though it had always been there.

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    • It is hard to go back and look at what you left but I was more attached to the trees than the house. I didn’t care for the house even before we bought it. It’s always about the plants. I’m glad you had a positive experience going back.

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  26. What a wonderful friend you are! I’m sure your visit meant a lot to your 20-year-long friend. As you say, life changes, but love and ‘being there’ for others does not. And yes, I understand what it’s like to go back to a place where you’d lived and made a home, and then see the changes. We lived in a home I loved for 18 years and then moved ‘cross country. I waited over 5 years to see it again (even though I revisited the town often to see family/friends). It was too painful, the idea of seeing what new occupants had done. Finally about 6 years after we’d moved away, a neighbor of my old home saw me walking nearby and dragged me to the ‘new’ owners, introduced me, and the owner gave me a tour. She had totally redone the house with ‘new’ kitchen etc and in my eyes, had taken all the coziness away from the place, as well as some of my memories. I didn’t like the house anywhere near as much as when I’d placed my heart and soul into it.

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    • Thank you for your kind words, Pam. I cherish my friends more than anything as I have moved so often and left behind so many. I’ve scheduled weekly calls to my friend on Thursdays at 4 p.m. It’s a brief chat but I won’t let more than a week go by again without checking on her well being. She is not as fortunate as I am with kids that care. It’s a hard place to find yourself in your late years.
      I would never want to go back into my old homes. Oddly, it was never the inside that I cared about. It was the landscaping that I put more energy into and wanted to see thrive. It was so good to see the trees were not removed. I will not be making another trip there so I have a good memory to keep now. Have a terrific Thursday. 😉

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      • When we left our house of 18 years, I “talked” to it – the walls, the inside, the ‘essence’ of it – it gave us so many great years. My husband related more to the outside because of the landscaping he did (much like you). He waited for TEN years before he could go back and look to see how the new owners had treated the outside – he was sorely disappointed. ;-(

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      • Wow! 18 years in one place! That’s not even in my wheelhouse. I suppose that’s why I never get attached to a place. I’ve moved 35 times in my life and went to 13 different schools. I’m sorry your husband was disappointed about how they treated his landscaping. It would be nicer if they built on what was there.

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  27. You certainly would have the moving situation under control after moving all those times. Such a fun post and so nice of you to go visit your friend. It is sometimes upsetting to see age take its toll on people, knowing them as we did, when they were young and vital. Yet it is a journey we all must take at some point. Loved some of your captions. Gracie’s staff! – Just like a feline! How fun it must have been seeing all your hard work improving on nature at the old house. Funny coincidence that at my last house, I had a wishing well too. But not quite as fancy and sturdy as yours. The new owners tossed it out I think. Life does not stand still. I went back to my childhood house and everything seem so much smaller than I remember. Clearly size must be relative to age!

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    • Thanks for stopping by, Amanda. Yes, it was good to see the outside looking so well. That’s all I cared about. I agree, size must be relative. My husband built that wishing well for me and did a superb job of it to have lasted so many years. I’m sure it’s 17-18 years old. I’m an expert packer and could easily hire myself out if I were well enough to stand upright for any length of time. 🙂 I call my friend every Thursday at 4:00 p.m now to check on here. She rebounds a little then slides backwards a lot. Every time she picks up the phone now, I’m grateful. We are all headed that way and I just treat others as I would want to be. It’s all we can do. Have a wonderfilled weekend, Amanda.

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