I was sitting with Lorene Smith, ("Gah" because my husband wouldn't say Grandma 36 years ago, and still won't.) in her silent home while we waited for news that her hasband of 64 years had gone to be with Jesus. I was praying because I certainly had no words for her and did not know exactly how I found myself in this most intimate place. Most of the family was with Papa at the hospital saying one more goodbye as the oxygen was unhooked to end his short battle with lung cancer. During all of this, our whole family had this awful stomach virus just in case losing your grandpa wasn't bad enough. After getting news of the finality of it all, but before even one hour had passed, Gah asked me if I'd come to the mountains with her and spend the summer. I was able to quickly answer with a yes.
Brent and I had already discussed this possibility if Papa was to die before summer, and if she wanted to go to their mountain home. Being a teacher does have this one great perk of long summers. I have loved western NC since I was a little girl going camping with my grandparents. When I was in highschool, I became part of Brent's family years before we were old enough to marry and spent summer vacations in his grandparents home in Sylva with his family. Brent and I spent our honeymoon in this house and at least two weeks each year since. Gradually, I started spending an extra week or two with his grandparents either before or after his time off of work to extend time in the mountains and time for our girls to be under one roof with great-grands. Two years ago, while here for July 4th, with all the family, I had a gall bladder attack and had to have surgery. Brent had to return home to work, so Mama stayed up here with me for a total of 5 weeks until I could return home. I was born with a longing for the mountains that I just can't explain. I get lonely for this place. I see this in my daughters also. Brent and I love the weather, landscape, culture, and history of this place. I am proud to be a Florida cracker, but the Smokies are a second home for me.
So, yes, yes, I will go spend the whole summer with an 87 year old lady who has just lost her husband. I will leave my husband, friends, and other family behind while my daughters and I do this whole other thing. It's kinda funny that some people live far from family all the time. I'm only coming for two months, and my sister, brother, parents, husband, and maybe some friends will visit. It's not really, that destitute or anything, it's just different for now.