Friends – Part II (You Can Go Home Again) 6/29/17

My trip back to Georgia this past weekend was a mix of nostalgia and happiness, all rolled into a ball of emotions that at times made me teary-eyed, then rolled over and made me laugh out loud.

A few miles past the Georgia line I was already surrounded by trees that were green from the ground all the way up to their tip-top branches.  Instead of palm, I was passing pine, oak, and pecan trees, and they were anchored in miles of green grass.  I started grinning about there.


My first stop was Sylvester, my home town (I was born in Albany , but Sylvester was where I grew up and went to school from third grade through high school).  I drove out to the cemetery and visited mama and daddy, sheddng tears and talking to them for a while.  Yes, I know they aren’t there, and I know they’re busy enjoying Heaven.  But it made me feel as though we’d touched base anyway.  There’s a peace in that place, and I was the only one out there at that particular time.  It was a good visit.

I had called Wanda, a first cousin, on my way into town.  She wasn’t home, but I left a message, and just as I was about to leave Sylvester, she called back.  I swung by her house and stayed for a good hour, catching up on all the Sumner family news.

I stayed with Dawn and Stevie both Friday and Saturday nights, driving to see Helen during the day on Saturday.

At the ri’vah, a lot of transportation is done by golf cart. While we waited for Stevie to get home from work, Dawn and I headed for Booger Bottom, the local hangout . . .


. . . .where things had not changed one bit. There was a large group hanging out on the deck . . .


. . . and a table full of girlfriends on the inside!


Crossing Lake Blackshear at sunset. After Stevie got home we headed to Pat’s Camp and the best catfish on the river.

Saturday night, after I got back from Helen’s, Stevie grilled ribs, and I stuffed myself silly. Then we boarded the golf cart again and rode up and down the street, stopping and visiting as we went.  That’s just the way it’s done at the ri’vah, and I have sure missed it.  Soooo good to see everyone – love y’all!

We all have those friends who, even though we don’t talk to them often – and see them even less than that – we know they’re there for us. And vice versa. Dawn is one of those friends. Even though she’s almost 15 years younger than I am, we’re like two peas in a pod – like the same things, don’t like the same things. We get each other. Maybe it’s because she’s from Sylvester too! Love you, Dawnie!

I left their house Sunday morning and instead of turning left on Hwy. 280, I went straight across to Flintside Drive, where Ted and I lived for so long.  I drove down that road that wanders the curves of the Flint River for almost five miles, every mile making my heart hurt a little more.  But, when I slowly drove by our place, it didn’t affect me as much as I thought it would.  I loved that house.  It was home for a lot of years.  But as I turned around at the end of the street, and started back out to the highway, I realized it was the people and the ri’vah itself I miss so much – not the house.  Ted and I have been married 29 years, and we lived at the ri’vah almost 20 of those years.  It was a big part of our lives together.  I’ve missed it.

I connected back to I-75 and drove toward Florida, stopping at the Florida Welcome Center just over the Florida-Georgia line.

As I got out of the car and looked around the parking area, there were cars from as many states as there were parking spots.  A line of folks were waiting to get a photo snapped of themselves standing under the new “Welcome to Florida” sign. I looked around and took in the newly planted palm trees, seeing them through all these visitors’ eyes – so different from Georgia and just about every other state in the U.S.  I could see their appeal.

I smiled and walked inside for my free sample of orange juice.  Then I was back on my way further south.

Even though Florida is now where I live, and Mackinac Island has my heart, Georgia will forever be where I come from.  I love its red clay and pine trees, its peanut and cotton and tobacco fields, its slow talking Southern drawl. I was born in Georgia, and it’s where my children were born. It’s where my mama and daddy are buried, and it’s where my relatives and many wonderful friends still live.

I loved going home again.

God bless.

 

 

 

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