August 16, 2021


This photo was taken the last time my mother got to visit her little home in Athens—sometime after her 90thbirthday.  By this time, she was spending most of the time with me in South Carolina.  She still helped with cleaning and cooking, went to church with me and occasionally out to eat a steak and baked potato at Ryan’s Steakhouse or a vegetable plate with cornbread at Lizard’s Thicket.  She was cheerful and comfortable there—but she missed her home in Athens terribly.  I’m not sure what prompted this particular visit but it was a wonderful time for her.

Tootsie kept an eye on the empty house for her and she cleaned everything and got it ready for our visit.  We all met there for the weekend.  She got to see several family members including her granddaughter Emily (who came over from Murfreesboro to visit) with her daughter Katie and her older son Robert who lived in Athens with his father. I’m sure we also visited with Monte, Tootsie, and Jerry and Marilyn. Maybe even some of the Ensminger cousins.

We took her to her church that Sunday morning. By that time, the church had built their new building on the hill above her house.  They’d bought the building site and our Burger Street house from Mother a few years before.  It felt strange to go to church in the field in front of my former home—which was now the preacher’s home!

The smile on her face in this photo—sitting in her antique rocker in her very own living room with her family around her—shows just what home meant to her.  Even a visit there  was wonderful.

As she grew weaker and unable to make the trip anymore, that longing for home stayed strong. We knew what she meant—she wanted to be home as she used to be—physically strong and active, cooking for company, visiting her cousins, tending her daylilies, enjoying her pink dogwoods, growing vegetables, talking to her next door neighbors and driving her push-button Fury.  She cherished those memories.

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