A few weeks ago my grandmother’s younger brother passed away. He was 82 and she is 88. She is now the last surviving member of her immediate family. There were five siblings all together, four girls, of which my grandmother was last, and then Jimmy, the baby and only boy. I took her to the funeral in rural Roanoke, Alabama and to the home she was born in. The home was built in the early 1900’s by my great grandparents. They raised their family and lived into old age there. After they passed, Jimmy and his wife moved in and have kept the integrity of that old place for the last 50 years. In the days before hospital births were mainstream, my great grandmother gave birth to her children at home, in the master bedroom. Jimmy died peacefully in the same room in which he was born. The same room in which his father, having lived a long life, also passed. Jimmy served in the army in Korea and the flag that adorned his casket was placed on the bed after the funeral.
In a world where we are constantly moving and experiencing rapid change on all levels, I find this stability of place something rare and foreign. Few of us know the home built by hands related to us, a home that supports and sustains us for decades, pulsing with our evolving familial experiences.
My great aunt has kept the integrity of the home true to the way she inherited it. Walking into that house is stepping back in time. The living room furniture still has it’s original upholstery and sits in the same place it did when my grandmother chatted with the boys who “came to call” on her as a teenage girl. I imagine my grandmother in high school, hair curled and in a pretty dress, turning that same doorknob and greeting a young man trying to conceal his nervousness.
As a young boy visiting his grandparents, my dad was fond of a framed picture in the master bedroom. By a twist of thin wire it hangs in the same place it has been as far back as he can remember.
My grandmother calls this “Rabbit Boy.” The original was painted by Scottish artist Henry Raeburn Inglis in 1814
My great grandmother made a quilt for each of her children when they were young. Pictured here is Jimmy’s. I look at all the work that went into cutting, ironing, padding and stitching that quilt by hand and I think it is a metaphor for life at that time. The slow and steady pace of work and home life created memories intricately beautiful, warm and enduring.
This is my great grandfather, James Dallas Baird. He built the house. The photograph hangs in the master bedroom. You can see the room, the furniture and me taking the photo in the reflecting glass.
Sally Muir, a new-to-us photographer friend, was introduced to us by Donna Rosser. We just love our ever-growing network of photographers; how one friend leads us to another! Thanks so much for joining us today.
Living in Roswell GA, Sally shares this about herself on her FaceBook page:
“My roots are in Georgia red clay but I believe the world is my family. From Alabama to Africa and all places between we find mothers, fathers and siblings.
I love children, even when they become teenagers:) I have six of my own, 3 girls and 3 boys. A few are grown and some are still growing, but all of us, including me, are still maturing.
I have loved some out of the ordinary pets in my time, including snakes and rats, who proved themselves abundantly worthy of that love regardless of the image the world may have of them. I find all creatures interesting and most of them beautiful. Bugs completely fascinate me.
I know how hard it is to live by one’s ideals because, ideally, I’d like to be a vegetarian. But as much as I love to pet the cow, I still have a weakness for the grilled burger. I’d also like to be incredibly fit and supremely kind, but they have their own obstacles.
I think all things have something to teach us. Even though I am a grown up woman, the curious girl remains. If I let her lead the way the day will not be boring. I am happiest outside in the company of trees, sun and water. The woods comfort me and I have learned more about life from resting quietly in them than I have ever gained in school or church. I wish all children everywhere had fields of grass, trees offering shade and creeks to put their toes in. Earth has enough concrete and tar. We take the ground underneath for granted. It has a lot to teach us. To witness the seed’s new birth, transformed by the trinity of earth, water and sunlight, is to visually understand the power in unity. Each element carries unique
characteristics leave any one of them out and growth cannot occur. The lessons have been in front of us since time began, but we are often too busy to pay attention.”