Madeline L’Engle said, “I am still every age that I have been.” I became many ages of my past this weekend as our SUV made its way through the streets down Gallatin Road in East Nashville.
As I directed my husband to turn onto Greenwood, I wondered with the same eyes of my youth, at the changes leading to new sights on the once familiar streets leading to my Grandmother‘s tiny, beloved home. I was so caught in the new scenes that I caused my driver to miss the old street, and we had to go back and make a left onto Mathews Place which was not the usual way. The difference in the direction momentarily caught my memory off guard. But as we turned onto the well-worn street, all of my senses began streaming images and feelings to my brain, and at once my heart was full of my childhood.
There was the chain link fence we used to crawl beneath to gain passage to the off-duty school playground. I can see the playground unchanged from my car window! There were the old neighboring homes where dear friends of my grandmother lived. She was “Nanny “ to all who knew her because to know her was to fall beneath her care regardless of your age. In just a few seconds, we were passing Nanny’s little house almost untouched by the progress of the surrounding area. It was just the same! It was as though my Dad was pulling the family Ford to the front of the house just off the street under the massive oak tree where my brother and I piled out of the back collecting Mom's potato salad, some sweet layered goodness, and drinks for the much-anticipated 4th of July family picnic. My Aunts and my Nanny would be busy inside with lunch preparations while my Uncle Jim or Uncle Buddy were likely minding the grill and burning the hot dogs to celebratory perfection. We would gather in the endless backyard and balance plates atop our knees as we ate from the smorgasbord of family potluck. Later, after the homemade ice cream was devoured, we would gather for the annual fireworks spectacular in an age where even children were allowed to hold exploding Roman Candles in our hands (and we all still have hands, thankfully).
Yes, Ms. L’Engle I am still every age that I have been as I strain my neck, hoping beyond reason to see someone familiar through my unexpected tears. It has been at least 15 years since Nanny was here and many more since we gathered in such a happy family fashion. There is no one left for my heart to see. There is only me as a representative of the family once gathered in this harbor of my recollection. But for a moment,” I am still every age.”