Thursday, 19 July 2007

Leaving Wyoming

I just got back from my son's Year Six Leavers Assembly. You know the sort. They all do skits and sing songs and thank everyone. I cried last year at my daughter's, but this year I was dry-eyed. Until I looked at the notice board and saw pictures of my son in Reception. Oh, he was a gorgeous little chappie. Still is. Back then he had these lovely chipmunk cheeks which he's inherited from me, though hubby's family like to claim his looks. I'll never have him like that again, and I feel somewhat melancholy about it. Still, he has grammar school to look forward to, and I think that will be the making of him. I think he will come out from under his bushel and shine the way I always knew he could. At least I hope he will.

But the farewell to primary school isn't quite so wrenching for me as the farewell to Wyoming will be this summer. That is where my mother lives. That is the state we visited every summer when I was growing up to see the grandparents. My mother moved back there in 1977. I've gone back most years ever since. My mother's parents moved there from Missouri when they were young adults, my grandmother to be a teacher, my grandfather to escape his abusive brother. My grandfather went on to be a cowboy for a few years. Yep, a real, live cowboy, though not nearly as romantic as in the movies. They met when they were in their 30s. He was ready to settle down and have a family. She was thankful to meet a man who wanted to settle down with her. They took a train to a town called Thermopolis, built over natural hot springs, and married there. They then lived on a homestead for a few years till the loneliness and the rattle snakes got to my grandmother. My grandpa, as I called him, then built a house that my mother and her twin sister were born in . The house is still in the family, occupied by one of my cousins and his wife and son.

I wrote earlier about my mother needing to move out of my stepfather's house. She is 82 and growing more infirm. He is 85, deaf, incontinent, prone to accidents of all sorts. I finally heard back from my sister, who is ready to have my mother move in with her. I broached the subject with my mother. She is ready to move in with my sister. We just need to tell my stepfather and his daughters and consult a lawyer, I think. Not necessarily for a divorce, but just to tie up any loose ends. Then my nephews will come with a U-Haul truck and take her back to Florida.

So this will probably be the last time I visit Wyoming for a very long time. I will savour the view of the mountains when we take our annual hike to clear our jet-lagged heads. I will dip my toes in the icy cold water of the mountain spring we visit. I will remember my brother, my cousins and I, as reckless teen-agers, drinking beer all the way down the mountain, and me having to stop at each and every rest stop. I will drive past Grandma and Grandpa's house and remember their vegetable patch, Grandma's flowers, the soft grass that I loved to walk barefoot in. It looks different now because my aunt built a house on part of the land. I will shut that out and remember playing croquet on that soft grass, the smell of Grandpa's garage where he kept all his old license plates, the green shed my brother and cousin called the sleephouse because that's where they slept when we visited. Where are those license plates now? Probably claimed by some relation. I think the sleephouse was taken down some years ago.

I will walk down the streets of my mother's town, as I do every year with my husband, peering at the vegetables and flowers that people somehow coax to life from a sometimes less-than-willing environment. We will point out to our children the house one occupant painted red, white, and blue the summer after 9/11. We will visit the hot springs of Thermopolis where my children will go down the various water slides and jump off the high diving board, as I did as a child. Perhaps we will coax them into the teepees for some photographs. I will try to get to Montana, which I try to do every year yet fail for one reason or another. Maybe one last visit to Yellowstone (though I hope not as I have yet to stay in the Old Faithful Inn, one of my goals in life). So much to fit in, so little time.

Leaving primary school is bittersweet. Leaving Wyoming will be much, much sadder.

22 comments:

laurie said...

what a lovely post. those places of our youth imbed themselves in our bones. you will not really be leaving wyoming; it's part of you. but that doen'st mean you won't feel sad.

i'm glad to hear your mother is leaving that bad situation--very glad. sounds like that came together much more easily than you had expected. that's good news.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Take lots of photos and make lots of notes. Memories are so special.

Crystal xx

DJ Kirkby said...

Ah this was a sad post but I am so happy for your mother.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

Thanks, you guys (er girls). Don't mean to get maudlin, but it happens. I'll try to take pix, CJ. Maybe one day I'll figure how to put them on the blog. I expect that the day my mother leaves will be a hard one for her.

debio said...

Such a moving post. Life is so full of pivotal moments.

Have a great time anyway.

lady macleod said...

That will indeed be a difficult good- by, but wonderfully it sounds to me, you have stored your memories in the form of stories you can pass on to your children. A real live cowboy! I mean that is the meat of a major school paper on "My Family".

Annie said...

I loved that story - brought tears to my eyes. How strong and fond your memories are of that place to have described it all so wonderfully.

I have a hard time going past my grandparents old house in Belfast, and I did not do it this year when we were home - it looks so different out front with changes the new owners have made - I like to remember it the way it was.

jenny said...

You paint a beautiful pciture of Wyoming and your memories are weaving their way into my mind.

I am glad for your mother to be geting out of a bad situation. I have a couple family members like that and they just don't see it as being abusive. I asked once, and her reply was, "you mean this isn't normal for all marriages?" Growing up with a widowed mother, she never knew what it was like to see a loving relationship between a husband and wife.

After this last visit, (if it is truly your last), you can always go back in your travels down memory lane.

Loz said...

There are some places that will always be home no matter how far we drift from them

Pixie said...

lovely words so much pathos.And evocative description. I want to put my toes in thosewaters too

But really good news about your mum. That must be the start of a worry off your shoulders.
px

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

Debio: thanks for stopping by and your well wishes.

Lady M: Yes, I'm quite proud of that bit of family history.

Annie: I know what you mean. I also can't go past the house I grew up in Florida anymore. It's changed beyond all recognition.

Jenny: Unfortunately, I don't think my mother ever will have a happy relationship with a man.

Loz: Welcome, and yes, in our memories these places always remain home.

Pixie: I think we still have a long way to go to get my mother out but it's a start.

Queen Vixen said...

Sigh! wistful and beautiful. The end of a stage is always sad, but it births a new part of the journey. Blessings to you for the road.

Stay at home dad said...

A lovely post (wist always gets my vote) and it reminded me of how I no longer go to my home town now that one parent has moved and one died.

I suppose this is everyone's rite of passage?

marymaryquitecontrary said...

It is so great that your Mum will now be cared for in a way that she deserves. Sometime I will visit those lovely States you lived in. We visit Florida for three weeks very soon. Lots of fun to be had there too!

Snuffleupagus said...

Well I suppose the departure from Primary for you can be sweet and that is lovely. Your clear desire for the well-being of your boy made a knot in my stomach as I know all the parents of the children coming to our school in Sept must feel the same way. And I know what awaits them...

mind the gap said...

Good luck with your trip and your mother's move!

Lizzie said...

Wistful yet strangely uplifting; past experiences impinging upon the future...

Lizzie x

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

Queen V.: Leaving one stage3 and moving on in life is always sad, isn't it. But necessary.

SAHD: Do you ever think you'd like to take your daughter to your home town to show her where Dad grew up?

marymary: Have a great time in Florida. I assume you'll be doing the theme parks, but try to see some other bits as well.

snuffy: Now you've got me even more worried about what awaits my son.

mind the gap: thanks for your thoughts and stopping by.

lizzie: Thanks for visiting. We shall see what awaits us.

DJ Kirkby said...

I've got an award for you but can't fit it on my blog till Thursday, pop over then to collect it!

Kelly said...

Great news about your Mom! Enjoy the trip. Better that you go now whilst all the memories are good than stick around and have mostly bad ones.....

Queeny said...

You should continue to go back to Wyoming over the years to relive the memories or perhaps to start a tradition with your own family.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

Kelly: Yes, it probably is best that she goes now.
Queeny: It's actually quite expensive and difficult for my family and I to get to Wyoming. It entails two flights and a 5-hour car journey. I won't miss that.