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From Jacksonville Beach, FL

Friday, April 8, 2011

Persistence of Memory

Hartwell Lake has changed the old ways, and new people have 
created new ones.

 Funny thing about memory, no two people attending the same event remember it the same way.  It is colored by experience, personality and interpretation.  Recently, my husband and I took a short trip to Hartwell in northeast GA, my birthplace and home for about ten years.  I have been back, of course, numerous times, but this visit was different.  Home had changed, but most significantly, so had I.  
    Thomas Woolf was right, "you can't go home again," unless you are able to roll with the tide.  Actually, it is better to go home often, then home doesn't seem to change as fast.  When I'm away from it, my imagination sees it as it was when I left, but, of course, it is moving and changing every day.  My dad in his declining years was away from the northeast GA home, but he constantly wanted to return.  In his confused mind, his parents were still at the old homestead. When I would drive him up for a visit, he couldn't accept the changes and wanted to come back to Florida after a day or two.  
Pink dogwood and pink azaleas make any house a showplace.

    My recent visit home after a two years absence saw great beauty in the landscape.  Spring made even broken down houses lovely with wisteria running up the trees, bridal veil shrub blooming in the yard, and tiny violets in the grass and weeds.  I had forgotten the loveliness of it all.  That was a very nice surprise.  
      My cousin and her family were above and beyond hospitable, taking us over the county to see the changes and grand houses around the lake.  When I was a child, the Savannah River ran on the edge of the county and more recently a dam on the river created a lake that draws fisherman and people with the money to buy the now expensive property.  
        My grandparents are no longer living, the old homestead is empty and falling in. The cousins have grandchildren and the grandchildren have their own memories, quite different from mine.  So, with apologies to Salvador Dali, memory does persist, but it has new interpretation.  This isn't an earth shattering revelation, but it hit me that the old days are truly gone.  I can see the old skeleton of the little town in buildings that remain, but they have new names and purposes.  Wal-Mart, of course, destroyed the town square.  Most old businesses closed. 
Beautiful snowball bush.  They don't look like snowballs.
They look like huge popcorn balls.

        Many thanks to my 91 year old aunt, my Gainesville cousins, and my Hartwell cousin for their kindness and hospitality.  North Georgia will always be home, but I miss the people who are not there and will never be there again.  I can go home again, but I have to find new meaning there. 

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