December 20, 2010 - A Day Without My Little Lovely :(

Today’s post has nothing to do with Georgia really, at least not my daughter Georgia. Today I was far away from her in Maine, my first full day without seeing and holding and loving on my baby. As I write this though, I am on the plane heading back to Omaha and back to my baby and husband. How I’ve missed them so.

Anyone who lives in Omaha and flies a least a few times a year will tell you there are no easy routes to get to and from Omaha. I rarely find non-stop flights to the east coast, and even my one-stop flights are not always very logical. Many times it seems I must go out of my way to get back home, never a straight line. Such was my route today. I left Maine and drove to Boston where I boarded a Delta plane. Instead of cutting west toward the Midwest to change planes in some snow-covered, cold city, we headed the direction I love best – south. Delta to me always means Atlanta, and that’s exactly where I was headed for a layover and plane switch.

Oh, my beloved Georgia. It’s one of only two places in this country I feel at home, and Omaha is not the other. It was dark by the time my plane crossed the state line, and even though I couldn’t see it in the light-speckled darkness below, I knew we were flying over that red dirt ground, and it was comforting. It was like a mother’s hug to me. And all I could do was look northeast, to what I imagined must be the upper right-hand corner of the state, and I knew I was looking in the direction of where my mother will always lie. I missed her so at that moment. For a fleeting second, I had the wild thought of walking out of the airport the moment we landed, renting a car and driving there, driving to my mom and the place where she raised me, the place where I have almost no memories without her. It was a tempting thought, but responsibility and reality were not far behind it.

As my plane came within sight of Atlanta, as it always does when I first catch sight of the skyline, my heart danced and warmed. Home. I’ve lived far from here on several occasions, and the sight of Atlanta from the sky has always been my first indication that I’m home. Only this time it was not a true trip home but just a tease of my emotions. Still, I did smile when I walked off that plane and into Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and knew I was walking on sweet Georgia clay. For a while I saw familiar sights within this airport I’ve visited so many times through the year. The stores, the AJC in the newspaper stands, the southern accents generously sprinkled among other voices from all over. But I knew my time was short, and before long I heard a woman’s voice announcing the boarding for my flight to Omaha. It was time.

My eyes never left the ground as we climbed higher in the sky and I said goodbye to my land of peaches, peanuts and pecans – I’ve always loved that they’re all “p’s” and I don’t know why. Even though the plane continued to put distance between me and that red dirt, I still felt it under my feet and squishing between my toes as I always felt it as a younger barefoot girl. And I looked into that far right-hand corner and said a goodbye to my mom and an I’m sorry I couldn’t visit and sit by your headstone for a while. I do miss you so.

When I knew we must no longer be over my home, I turned from the window and opened the only thing fitting at this point, a copy of “Southern Living” I had brought along with me. I turned it page by page, remembering the copies always scattered around my mother’s house. She always seemed to be cooking and testing another recipe from its bounty. In fact, one of the last times she had the strength left to travel to Omaha to visit me, she gathered up the energy from somewhere within her cancer-ridden body and cooked a salmon cake recipe, a page torn from “Southern Living” as her guide. As I closed that December 2010 edition, I noticed something I had not before. Right above where my name and address were marked on the cover was my mother’s name, and it read “Gift from.”

My mother had always given me a subscription to “Southern Living” for Christmas, but it has been 15 months since she was buried in that red dirt. I had wondered a few months back why I still received copies in the mail. I just figured I had paid for a subscription and forgotten that I had. But no, my mother is still gifting me with southern memories.

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