Arkansas Pines and Family Roots

We drove across the southeastern part of Arkansas last week on Highway 278. Our guardians were the pine trees on both sides of the road, standing tall and majestic.

My uncle died and my mom and I were traveling to Monticello, Arkansas for the funeral. I love this part of Arkansas. It is a beautiful place and holds good memories of my childhood. Some of these memories were first formed when our family would take the twice yearly trips from Dallas to Monticello. One trip was at Christmas and the other was during the summer. This area around Monticello, Arkansas is where my grandparents lived as well as aunts, uncles, and cousins.

My grandparents died a number of years ago. However, several aunts and numerous cousins remain in the area. For a number of years, I did very little to invest in or maintain the relationships. This was my loss. My six cousins are great people and I like their families as well. On this trip, I came away particularly impressed with my cousins’ children and grandchildren.

Traveling to this part of Arkansas and having conversations with my aunts, cousins, and their families was a reminder to me of how important these people are to my story. Now that I have long moved out of those years, I have grown to really appreciate such an important part of my past.
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Yes, being in Monticello has a way of stirring up old memories. I remember, as a little boy, following my grandpa through the snowy woods around Christmas time (he had worked in the logging industry for many years). He showed me the tracks of a deer. Was I ever impressed!

I remember well going inside that white frame house of my grandparents and hearing that screen door slam behind me. I can still smell purple hull peas on the stove. In the oven was turkey and dressing. Those smells and sights are alive in my memory.

Maybe the memories that mean the most are those which in some way form and shape your own story. I suspect that is why I remember and treasure some of the things I do.

Question:

Do you relate to this? Do you ever go “home” or to a significant place in your childhood and feel as if a part of you has reconnected?

    

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4 thoughts on “Arkansas Pines and Family Roots

  1. My sympathies in the loss of your uncle. Glad you accompanied your mom to the funeral. It’s a special treasure when a son is attentive to his mother. Sounds like you have wonderful and meaningful memories of your childhood. I’ve sometimes yearned to have an opportunity to live in the old country – although we did visit there in the ’80s. I only got to live there 10 years and those distant memories are good. It just feels good to still have and treasure all those memories – especially since I work with folks who have lost theirs or can no longer articulate them!

    • Karin, thank you very much. Yes, it was a good thing to be able to accompany my mom to the funeral. It was an opportunity to spend some good time with her. She is 85 and I wondered how many more trips that she will take back to her home.

  2. I still “visit” my grandmother’s kitchen almost on a daily basis even though she’s been dead almost 4 decades. She and I loved boiled / salted peanuts. I can “hear” her radio blaring at noon every day to catch Paul Harvey … always slightly off channel, so there is a static to every word. They are good memories. I hope my children and grandchildren will have as wonderful memories as I have. On the other hand, there are memories from the other side of the family that are good … but mostly I seldom give them a thought.

    • Greg– It is amazing how powerful such memories are. It sounds as if these very powerful memories of your grandmother’s kitchen continue to bring you joy even though it has been forty years since you experience this in the flesh. Wow! Thanks so much.