Last day

I’m trying to plan a trip to Oregon this summer. I was actually born in Provo, but I grew up in Oregon and it is still home to me, even though I’ve not been back to my childhood home for well over 20 years and only one of my sibling remains there, and in another city.

I can’t explain why I feel compelled to go back. A huge part of it is about remaining connected to my family. When I make this trip I can see three of my four siblings who live out of state. Another part of it is because my brother and sister-in-law who live there are close to me and take good care of me. They nurture my soul in a way unique to them and that fills my heart.

But part of it is simply a longing for home. The rich, lush, green of the not-desert Northwest. Not to stay. But at least to visit and take in, gazing fondly over the familiar breadth and depth of the thick forest and inhaling deeply the heavy not-dry air.

As I read the prompt for this post I realized, perhaps for the first time, that I had no idea my last day* as a resident–living in Oregon–was my last day. It passed was without ritual or farewell, other than what I believed to be simply an “au revoir” to my family as I went away to attend college at BYU.

I did not know my father was going to die one year after I went away to college. That my mother would feel compelled to pack up and sell the family home and follow me and my sister (who came to BYU the year after I did, just months after my father died) out to Utah.

Other than that day as a high school junior when I suddenly felt the words “I’m going to BYU and I’m going to major in English” fly out of my mouth, I had no plans for the future. So I don’t know where I thought I’d be after that, I just never imagined I would not be coming home.

I have no idea if this is what others do. When their past is so far removed that their own children don’t even know it. When their parents are gone and their siblings are scattered and they no longer have a home base. When they are transplanted to somewhere they love, but somewhere so vastly different than that place they grew up and that is so dear to them. But this is what I do. I want to go home.**

*This is also a place holder for writing about a collection of other last days I didn’t realize were last days and wondering if it is somehow easier if we don’t know they are last days at the time.

**Being very much present here with my current family, friends, and ward family and knowing my roots are very firmly planted here, which is also home to me. I’m still keenly aware that Oregon was my first home. It left its imprint on and in me.

[Day 122 of Ann Dee Ellis’ 8-Minute Memoir.]