I am from. . .

I am from red clay roads, party-line telephones and “I Love Lucy” when it was live on TV.
I am from Rose of Sharon bushes in Grandma’s yard, its blossoms crushed inside acorn caps in hopes of luring fairies under the red oak tree.
I am from the “right peart” and “bless her heart” and “yester d’ev’nin'” of porch talk at my grandmother’s house.
I am from Grandma’s apron with pockets that bulged with change purse, thread, keys and snuffbox.

I am from the bloated black ’47 Plymouth with the cavernous and musty back seat where I rode home late at night, the moon following above the trees, and my father carrying me upstairs as I slept when we arrived home.
I am from the green ’50 Chevy with stick shift on the column and a cracked window from the drive-in movie speaker still attached to the window that was ripped from its post.
I am from the red ’67 VW Beetle that faded in the sun as I typed briefs, wills and deeds of trust over and over one summer, no white out allowed.
I am from the green ’73 Jeep with cloth doors that was fitted with extra seat belts to hold three car seats and the precious cargo, two sons and a daughter, that filled them.
I am from the ’84 silver Audi that rolled away the first time I parked it, stopping just short of the policeman’s car and that ran faithfully as all three children practiced driving but refused to start the day Elizabeth Anna died.
I am not from the dark gray ’90 Honda that ran into the tree less than half a mile from home while my daughter was belted into the back seat.
I am from dozens of metal boxes fitted for the highway, temporary transports–but I do not belong to any of them.

I am from my father’s toolbox, his quiet gentleness and his readiness to repair balky cars and machines that needed his healing touch.
I am from my mother’s kitchen where green beans simmered and the meringue on chocolate pies browned to perfection, and from her clothesline where shirts swayed like willow branches in a breeze.
I am from my Grandmother Mary Elizabeth’s dog-eared copy of Shakespeare and my Grandma Anna’s family Bible, both repositories for letters, notes, clippings and connections.

I am from all the classrooms that held me captive or set me free–from the cold brown-floored one in first grade to the cozy room at Salem where I gathered groups of girls to read and write and think and dream.

I am from two dulcimers found for me by my husband and children so that I could search for heart songs, healing songs. Smile, Elizabeth said, you have a daughter and a dulcimer. I’d give up the dulcimers in a heartbeat to have my daughter with me once again.

Ginkgo leaves

I am from the ginkgo tree planted by my son and his daughter Anna Elizabeth and from the love from my sons that found the tree, a gift of survival, persistence, peace.

I am from shoes: from Elizabeth’s ballet slippers to the red wool slippers to the Nikes in the blue ER bag, the only belonging of hers returned after the crash.
I am from sorrow and survival like the ash-covered gray shoes in the Holocaust museum.

I am from the pieces of rainbow light that appear on walls and countertops in my home, refracted bits of color and surprise and hope from a rainbow child.

I am from the bridges on old country roads and the interstate expressway bridges that take me from one part of my life to another, however rickety or grand these may be. (“On top of Spaghetti.. .” my granddaughters sing as we maneuver “spaghetti junction” over and under bridges.)

I am from the photograph albums that chart my life and those of my children and grandchildren, and though I cherish the fragments of time they help me recall, I cherish the ones in my heart even more.

~Kay Windsor, 2006, 2012