Family. Home. What is left after parents are gone and you set out to find your life in the terrain that opens around you?
I have returned for my annual writing retreat at The Big Six Country Club, our family cabin in the Sandhills of Nebraska. The book I write unfolds before me. Writing memoir is the act of making sense of your life, and I am in the heart of making sense of the last years as my mother became ill and then died, and the choices I made in those months surrounding that loss. Once again I am reminded, as I craft sentences and jockey events into scenes, that it is through storytelling that we invent our understanding of what it all meant.
Here I am with brother Billy who has come up to the cabin for a weekend visit, to do what we had been putting off for over a year, the spreading of my mother’s ashes. In a divine moment of surprise, a neighbor friend showed up as we were returning to the yard of the cabin. We had just walked back from The Point, a piece of land with a view of the north end of the lake and the marsh, a place our mother loved. The neighbor walked into the yard hoisting a camera. She’d had a notion, she said, to walk over to The Big Six and capture an image of the brother and sister who own it.
Life at this old place of memory is full of such divine moments.