Sunday, May 8, 2011

Going Home

They say you can’t go home again.

Of course, you can always take a trip down memory lane any time you want. Granted, over time memories will fade and the truth of the past can become blurred. We tend to either have very strong memories of the past or vague recollections.

Assuming the physical home is still there, it just may be possible to go back....

I spent all of my formative years on the family farm. I left after high school for a few years but returned for two and a half years in my early twenties. It wasn’t easy to go back after being on my own, but I was broke and needed that time to get going again.

I left again in 1984 and have been in Winnipeg ever since. In those first years after I moved to the city, I went home for weekends as often as I could. Usually every two or three weeks. I enjoyed seeing my friends and spending time with my parents and some of my family who were nearby.

Bus fare was fairly reasonable back then and there were at least two buses in and out of Winnipeg every day. I’d go out on Friday and come back on Sunday evening or Monday morning. For at least a couple of years, it was usually the same bus driver that I travelled with when I went out. If he saw me waiting at the depot here in the city, he’d hold the front seat on the door side for me or even let me on first. We’d chat most of the trip. It made the time go faster. If I told him which bus I was likely to take back and he was driving, then he would try and hold the same seat for me till he got to my stop.

Occasionally, I’d take laundry with me but usually I took out less than I brought back! I always tried to leave room to bring more back. In the summer and fall, I’d bring produce from our garden or new treasures from garage sales. In the winter, mom and I would often bake and cook together so I could bring homemade food back to the city with me. I didn’t have fully equipped or spacious kitchens in those early days!

Mom and I would usually go shopping in a nearby town on Saturday. We hit the garage sales and any sales in the local stores. It was a time to catch up and chat about all kinds of things. On Sundays, we’d cook an early dinner and I’d pack leftovers to bring back with me.

If I wasn’t spending time with friends in the evenings, my parents and I would sometimes play cards or board games. Dad and I would always have a game or two of cribbage. I’d always take at least one long walk around the farm and down the road apiece just to stretch my legs and have a time of peaceful solitude to contemplate whatever was on my mind.

After losing so much of my sight in 1990, going to the farm for a weekend was never the same. My city mobility was much better than my country mobility. Yes, I still knew my way around the farm, but I just wasn’t as comfortable in my movements. We did have a deck of cards that was large print. They had come from my grandma’s so we were still able to play some games.

It was also difficult for me to function in mom’s kitchen. Most of the things were always in the same place, but finding things in the pantry or the fridge were a bit more challenging as she put them where there was room. That meant that things weren’t always in the same place let alone the original container. The fridge was always a bit of a three dimensional jigsaw puzzle. When you opened a container from the fridge, the contents weren’t always what the label said was in it. Mom knew what was in all the containers but she didn’t always take time to re-label them. Another thing that made functioning difficult for me, was that neither the stove or the microwave were marked with labels that I could see or feel. Aside from setting the table and helping with the dishes, there really wasn’t a lot that I could safely do in the kitchen.

It may sound strange, but going to the farm after losing so much of my sight often made me feel like I was 10 years old again. I couldn’t function on my own and I felt like my independence was gone. I suppose I could have had them have things marked for me, but I didn’t feel it was necessary given the limited time I spent there.

Overall though, it just wasn’t the same. Bus fare was also increasing and it was getting harder for me to afford the trip even if mom and dad paid part of it. I started going out less and less. Eventually, I pretty much quit going.

From the late 1990’s on, I’ve only been out a handful of times. The last was for my dad’s funeral. I took the bus that day, but only went to the funeral home and then back to the city.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go out. I would have loved to spend more time there. It was more the circumstances and financial limits that held me back. I still saw my parents at least a couple of times a year here in the city. We talked every Sunday on the phone – usually about an hour every week.

I love living in the city. But, I do miss the peace and solitude of the farm. I miss the fresh air, the open spaces and the privacy. There are often times that I close my eyes and drift back in time to the days when life was simpler. I’d mentally take a walk down the lane or along the shady path in the trees. I’ll imagine sitting on the stone steps or laying on the cool grass staring up at the starry night skies or watching a glorious sunset.

You can go home again. You just need a really good imagination to do it.


1 comment:

goozer said...

I think I just went with you on a trip to your family farm. Thanks.