I was raised in a military family and moved from place to place throughout most of my childhood. I did not grow up next door to my extended family or make lifelong childhood friendships like most people do. Though I have lived in many houses, there was never a place that I could point to as “home.” My husband Big D, on the other hand, has deep roots in north Georgia where generations of his extended family live, work and even populate the cemeteries in these parts.
When we were dating, he took me to an abandoned house that was at least 100 years old. It was sitting back from the road in an overgrown field. I had driven past it dozens of times, but I had never given it more than a glance. Houses like this are very common and dot the north Georgia landscape with their charm. There is something so visually warm and inviting about seeing these old, wooden structures. Despite the void in my childhood, there is a seemingly familiar emotion that wells up inside of me at the sight of them. It stirs up an inner longing for “home.”
As we parked our truck and began to walk onto the property, Big D pointed out a stack of rocks under the corner of the house. He walked closer and knelt down to point out its significance. The loosely stacked rocks formed a pillar. As we looked, we could see there were several more around the corners and under the center of the house. It was hard to believe these half dozen ramshackle pillars had been holding up so much weight all of these years. We took one of the rocks that had fallen out of place and kept it as a souvenir. Big D loves to collect rocks, and a rock to commemorate our visit to this old house was worth having.
I stood back to take a look a better look at the old house. The outer walls were made of rough cut wood boards that were now warped in many places. The original paint was chipped and faded. We had to carefully climb our way up the front porch steps to avoid the places where boards were missing so that we wouldn’t fall through the floor. Many windows were still intact, but many had also been broken. There were pieces of broken glass scattered here and there on the floor. The rooms inside were very small — barely large enough to fit a bed. It was hard for me to imagine that an entire family had once lived there.
As we walked through the rooms, I noticed that Big D grew suddenly quiet. There were tears in his eyes. This is when he told me that his mother had been born in that very house along with her many siblings. His great-grandfather had likely built this house. We wondered aloud which room would have been the actual place of her birth and stood in humble reverence for many minutes. We talked about the children that were born in that house and the generations that followed.
There was an unspoken reason for our visit that day. Big D was going through a soul searching time in his life and had lost sight of many good things about himself. The world around him was attempting to convince him that he was someone less than who he really was. This visit to his mother’s birth place was something very necessary for him to do. By reconnecting to his heritage and his roots, he was able to reconnect with himself. It was a sacred moment for him as he stood inside that house. It was sacred for me to be invited into that private moment.
That day, I came to witness what it is for a man —then, so broken in spirit — to reach back through time and draw strength from his country roots. It took my breath away. I will never forget it.
Written by S.R. Williams. Copyright 2018
READ MORE FROM THIS CATEGORY: VIEW FROM THE FRONT PORCH