I just finished reading an article in a new magazine that I adore called Taproot. Each quarter they surprise me with the care and attention they pay to every detail from the paper envelope that it comes in, to the almost haunting heart and soul that goes into every story, every word. The particular story I just read, There and Back Again written by Rachael Miller, literally made my eyes well up and heart break with a feeling of great appreciation and great longing.
I feel an overwhelming appreciation for the life I am blessed to lead today, but great longing for the carefree ways of my wild and free childhood and the closeness I shared when I was part of a foursome living in the country in South Texas. The article reminded me of how much I deeply regret never having had the chance to get to know my grandfathers because they both left this Earth far too soon. I miss my Nana, the person I have come to understand and relate to most. I miss secret hideouts, riding bikes with my brother and cousins, running my horse wide-open across a freshly plowed field, swimming in a muddy river, sledding down gravel mountains, and making mud pies with wild berries on top. Long gone are the days of riding go-carts with the neighbor kids and coming home after a long day of making dirt clod forts to find daddy sharpening his pocket knife in his recliner and the smell of a fried venison supper cooked by mama. No more escaping to the mesquite tree down our caliche road to get over bad feelings.
I spent many summer days in my Nana’s fields picking cucumbers, black-eyed peas, and corn and carrying in buckets full for her to sell. I remember riding in the front seat of my uncle’s grain truck while my mom drove from field to elevator, sweating in the Texas sun, legs sticking to the vinyl seat. I watched my dad work for hours under a truck or car as he overhauled the engine, mom handing him the tools like a nurse for a surgeon. Some of my favorite evenings were spent in our living room singing a bluegrass tune while my dad played the banjo or mandolin. When my brother and I came in from our days playing, we were usually pretty dirty and smelled like outside. I love that smell. I miss playing with him and I even miss fighting with him.
As I type, my mind is flooded with memories, stories from a past life that is ever present in my days as I raise a family of my own on a ranch in the Texas hill country. All of what I experienced as a child will forever shape my choices and drive my endeavors. The Frio River runs through my veins and I swear there is still black clay mud under my nails. My hair still blows in the wind above the back of my horse and I can still smell the leather of my saddle mixed with the salt of his sweat.
Why do I feel such joy and such longing? Because I come from parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins that love me and still make me feel loved daily. My people were farmers, ranchers, engineers, hunters, dairy farmers, homemakers, cowboys, mechanics, seamstresses, gardeners, hostesses, Texas Rangers, surveyors, writers, painters, bookkeepers and teachers. The ones I never knew whisper from my soul and those still here are a constant presence for me to call upon. They are stewards of the land, the wildlife, and the rivers and never shy from a hard day’s work. The making and tending of our homes and families is as important as the air we breathe and working with our hands puts food on the table and joy in our hearts.
I can say proudly that I know my cousins, all of them, and see them at least once a year. My children have wide-open spaces to roam free and creeks and rivers to throw a line in, or cool their feet in. I tend a garden and an orchard and enjoy raising a pen of chickens. My kitchen often smells like my mom’s kitchen and usually has a vase of fresh flowers and a mason jar of fresh fruit preserves to put a smile on the face of anyone who enters. I'm a wife, mother, sister, aunt, artist, designer, gardener, farmer, adventurer, and dreamer. My love is gathering people, making connections, and living artfully and meaningfully. Every chance I get I call home to mom and dad and talk about everything or nothing. My children know their cousins well and spend time with their grandparents often. This is more than I ever dreamed possible, but none of this is an accident. Every day my choices reflect the whole of my existence and for me that includes the existence of those who came before me. I listen to the whispers. My roots are planted firmly in the ground and I am reaching for the stars.
This is my legacy.
Have a great weekend!