Today is my birthday, which I thought an appropriate date to jumpstart this blog, which I’ve ignored for the past 2 ½ months.
It’s been a strange time; one of transition and fear, prayer and tested trust. My mother has been repeatedly ill, a combination of heart and lung ailments—some recent and some long standing—and I’ve made a number of trips to Alabama . . . and the ER. I’m now as familiar with Decatur General Hospital as I once was Vanderbilt’s Children’s Hospital. But Rachel is stable and reasonably healthy these days, while I feel as if I’m watching my mother’s descent in to that infamous good night.
Earlier this week, I headed home again, only this time I skipped Interstate 65 and drove Highway 31 almost all the way home. Once the major thoroughfare from Decatur to Nashville, it’s now one of the “blue roads” – those 2-lane beauties that meander with the land (as pointed out in the movie Cars) instead of cutting through it.
It is some of the most beautiful country in the world. In spring, the trees are laced with dark and light greens, and wildflowers line the side of the roads, their pinks, whites, purples, and blues waving wildly with each passing car. The weather alternated between sun-backed storm clouds (giving a whole new meaning to the term “blue road”) and brightly lit, rolling fields.
I pass through a half dozen unincorporated towns, maneuvering through curves and hills like a child at play. The land around Nashville undulates like the ocean far from shore, so that even the open horse fields rise and fall like great swells of verdant seas.
It also brought back memories of the first time I rode this stretch of highway, almost fifty years ago. It was Summer 1964, and we were on the way from Alabama to Nashville to see the Grand Ole Opry. I was a kid, but almost every mile driven in that unair-conditioned 1964 Impala is etched in my mind. It was good to look back, remember the way my parents used to be, what we were as a family.
This year, I turn 53; my mother will be 84 in June. We don’t look much alike; I carry too many of my dad’s Welsh genes. But there is kinship in our spirits, in our experiences, in our faith, in our love.
Life is not simple or easy for me right now—not financially, emotionally, or spiritually. But in caring for my mom and making her a priority, I’m reminded, almost daily, that remembering what has gone before can make us strong, bind us together, help us face the future.
So here’s to remembering Highway 31 in 1964 during the year we turn 53 and 84. And God’s staying power.