Okay, I have so much to say that I can't possibly say it all tonight. I just arrived home from 3 days with my family in Illinois and Indiana. I baptized a great-grandniece in the little church I was confirmed in (here's the church, St. George's Episcopal, in West Terre Haute, Indiana -- I'll send a picture of the baptism when my niece sends me one):
When I was growing up, we held Sunday school in the undercroft, which was accessed through the cellar doors you still see at the right of the building. The parish hall, which you see to the far left, wasn't there, nor was the white fence (or paved parking lot, which you don't see in this picture).
Not only was it great to see my family, but it gave me a great chance to revisit old places from my childhood. It was a rich time. Yesterday before the baptism I performed, I visited the church where I was baptized myself, St. Stephen's, across the river in Terre Haute. Then I took a short tour of my old neighborhood where I lived from age 2-8 years, including the corner house where I lived with my parents and brothers during those years:
It's a humble little house, somewhat worse for wear, and looking a bit different than when I lived there. It had gray tar-paper siding then (asphalt? asbestos? that heavy shingled stuff that felt like sand on the outside), and there was an enormous white hydrangea bush in front of that front double-window (which wasn't double then, but rather, just one large, double-hung window). There was no chain-link fence or flagpole, the front porch and steps were simple cement (maybe painted red?), and the front sidewalk (not even visible in this photo) was in good repair. That very front room was my parents' bedroom, though it was my grandmother's room when she lived with us. The side room with the slight bay window was the living room, and behind that was the dining room. The little part that looks added-on in the back was the kitchen. The garage has always been there, though it was tan stucco when we lived there. Those maple trees at the curb were very small when I lived there; my daddy planted them, and one has been cut down -- it was an orderly row of five saplings. The back yard, which you can't see here, has been changed dramatically; the brick sidewalk my daddy laid when I was 4 (I "helped") has been torn out and replaced with cement "steppingstones." I almost cried when I saw it. The last time I was there, the walkway was still there, though very overgrown with grass between the bricks. I wish I had photographed it then.
I have many other things to tell and show you; but there was such deep-down sweetness and satisfaction about making these visits to well-known and loved sites this week. I've been writing down memoirs for myself over the last few months, and this "sentimental journey" (yes, the song has been running through my head all day) deepened my experience and stirred up more memories.
It was with some sadness that my dogs and I (they made the trip with me this time) bid my family and these familiar places good-bye. It's great to be home, but it was a really meaningful and moving visit.