“Do you remember how to get there?” my dad asks.
“Yeah, I think I do,” I reply over the phone.
I head out early the next morning to meet my dad at our 1950s house where I was raised. I can’t remember the last time I had seen the inside of this home, but I can still remember in detail what my room looked like when I left. The walls were a light raspberry pink, covered with colored pushpins that displayed sports ribbons, mums, posters and photos with friends. Come to think of it, there wasn’t much pink showing upon those walls by the time I left for college.
Not too many years ago, Dad purchased our old family home when it had come available and turned it into a rental property. Now between renters, I was meeting him to see the inside after I had moved out almost thirty years ago.
Taking the 40-minute drive to my old neighborhood, I allow my mind to spread easy memories before me like a laundered sheet being shaken and laid out upon a comfortable bed. I was looking forward to allowing my eyes to smooth out what my mind had forgotten.
As I turn down the main road to our home, I soon realize time grows roots next to memories. The nursery where my brother used to come home as a teen with white stuff in his hair and ears from flocking Christmas trees was now an eatery. My favorite bookstore was now someone’s office. Yet, the intersection where I had my first wreck… well, that is still there (and still too busy). And the hotel we had our after-prom party is still the same hotel — right there, surrounded by a bunch of buildings that were not there before.
Taking my time, I approach our home. All the houses look so small. Each and every one except ours. Perhaps that is because ours is swelled with a lifetime of our stories. Dad isn’t there yet, so I wait out front. The different shaded concrete sidewalk squares are just as I remember. I notice a roly-poly moving along the uneven bump between the squares, so I allow the little fella to cross upon my finger to help him along. How many roly-polies had I played with upon this very sidewalk? Too many to count.
Walking up to the porch, I turn and face the street. From playdates to dates, these same eyes have seen this same view… just the girl has gotten older along the way. I can almost hear my brother’s radio booming from outside his bedroom window from where I stand. My parents were always on him to “Turn that down!”
Dad arrives and opens the front door. I follow. Again, nothing unusual. So familiar. The only difference is it feels we have had lifetimes since the lifetime we had in this home. How can that be? How can I grow up so quickly? And see my dad so much older? And yet, the same threshold graciously receives us both, just as it did so many years ago.
I walk around in silence. Dad finds me standing in the center of my room. I see the new carpet blinds, and updated fixtures. Walls painted tan… bare.
“Looks different, doesn’t it?” he asks.
“Yes, looks different.”
The room looks different, but it is still comforting. I open my closet door. I remember exactly where my ski boots fit on the top shelf. The shelf is still there. I smile at the memories of our family vacations.
I walk into the kitchen. I see my mom cooking fried okra in a cast iron skillet at the stove. I don’t see the new stove or the new countertops. I see her. Beautiful her. I look at the empty space and see the round table where we said grace and ate together. I can almost hear my brother asking for “seconds.”
Hmm… time has grown roots next to my memories, but that is OK. I take a good look at my dad before he heads back to his house in a different town and I go back to my house in a different town. Time has changed us both. Given us many blessings, and a few heartaches along the way. But regardless of the lifetime of changes, when I look at him all I see is Dad. And, oh, how I love my dad.
Friend, Jesus provides. And Jesus asks us to be good stewards of what he provides, including time. May we remind ourselves how Christ has been faithful to us throughout our lives. To go down “thankful lane” – trusting that even if things look different now, it doesn’t mean that they are without purpose or outside His plan.
“Do you remember how to get there?”
SGLY, dear readers.
(Smile, God Loves You.)
Tiffany Kaye Chartier is a Christian author and opinion columnist. You can find her newly released books, “H.E.R.O. Faith” and “Bad Disciples” on Amazon. To submit feedback on SGLY, please contact news@ amtrib.com. Follow Chartier on Facebook: facebook. com/tiffanychartier and Twitter: @tiffanychartier