When the heart is filled and broken at the same time! PDF Print E-mail
Written by George Browning   
Wednesday, 23 August 2017 09:13

Found myself out in the country late one night recently.

The windows were down, had the wind on my scalp and the radio was turned up. That’s when an overwhelming smell of honeysuckle hit my nostrils.

I was on Highway 60 leaving Borden and coming into Pekin, but for a moment, I was at my aunt’s house in Louisville. It wasn’t 2017 anymore, it was the early 1980s and I was barefoot playing in the alley behind her house.

Oh the smell, it was so sweet! It not only tickled the nostrils, but it also sparked a trip down  Memory Lane.

In an instance I was taken  back to a time when that smell was a part of my daily life.

Maybe it’s because my kids are growing up and getting older, but I’ve found myself taking those trips a lot more of late.

A few days later as I sat at a red light in Clarksville an old Mustang drove passed.

It was beautiful and it was loud (in a good way). I had to do a double take to see if my Uncle Pat was driving it.

The dual exhaust created a smell and in that moment I wasn’t at a red light in Clarksville, I was on Payne Street in Louisville.

It wasn’t the case, but for a moment, I heard some giants from my past telling stories, drinking coffee and cutting up.

There was a cool sensation on my leg as my mind drifted back to the days when shoes in the backyard were optional.

Those giants were my dad and his cousins and brothers, one of them was Uncle Pat.

The memories are happy ones. What a blessed childhood I had. I am thankful for those barefoot experiences with laughter all around.

While smells and sounds fill my heart full of love and fond memories, there is also a sadness that comes with it. You see, many of the people from those memories aren’t around any more and while my heart sings from thinking about those days, it breaks at the same time because most of those giants are long gone.

My wife Tonya gets after me when we are in Louisville, because I love to take the back roads. I know the interstate is quicker, and there are routes with less red lights, but she doesn’t realize there is a memory on every corner in the city where I grew up.

It doesn’t feel like I am driving on Bluegrass Avenue to get to Dixie Highway, it feels like I am driving to my Grandma Fern’s house.

Sometimes, I even turn left and make my long detour even longer as my car naturally finds its way to Grandma’s old house.

There was a stretch when we also lived on that street, across from Grandma. My aunt, uncle and cousins were just two doors down from us.

Grandma passed away in the mid 1990s, and the landscape has changed, but her house is still there. I know that’s the case, because the last time I was in that part of town I stopped and looked for a minute.

I sat in the car a few doors down imagining that she was still behind the door of that little house. It felt like she was in there watching her “Stories” piecing together a quilt.

A lady and her husband brought me back to reality when their baby started to cry in her stroller. They opened the fence to Grandma’s yard.

I didn’t know them and the reality that they were opening the door to grandma’s house set in.

Every part of Louisville is filled with those kinds of memories.

One of my favorite places to visit is Payne Street near Lexington Avenue.

There isn’t a lot of business to take care of on that side of town, so trips out that way are more rare.

The last time I was in the area I found myself driving past my Uncle Pat’s old house.

I caught myself slowing down to peek over his fence to see if his old black Mustang was still in the driveway. A blue tarp covered a pile of something where that old muscle car used to sit.

The car is a distant memory and I imagine Uncle Pat still polishing it up in Heaven.

Just a block from Uncle Pat’s house sits a church, “Clifton Unitarian!” My Grandpa George lived in the parsonage on the church property because one of his many jobs was taking care of the grounds.

The church hasn’t changed and neither has the parsonage. In fact, it all looks just like it did when I was in my youth.

The similarity, down to the big trees and broken sidewalks, makes it easier to drift back to those memories.

The only thing that has changed is the size. Did someone shrink it, because it felt like a mile from Grandpa George’s house to Uncle Pat’s front door, but it was only six houses.

I couldn’t resist parking next to the church. No one was around so I got out and picked up some of the Walnuts that fell from the tree.

I wanted to look into an imaginary catcher and get my sign, but thought it may look odd for a stranger from Indiana to be playing baseball with Walnuts in a church yard.

The smell from the Walnut shell lingered on my hands as I got back in the car and drove away.

Could have sworn I saw the 12 year old me waving goodbye.

“So long kid” I whispered to myself as I headed toward my Indiana home, “Send everyone my love!”

Do you have a place that always takes you back to your childhood? Share it with me at www.gbpnews.com.