Today, as Jim and I walked through an art gallery and an antique store in downtown Claremore, Oklahoma, I couldn’t help but wonder, as each person passed me by: am I related to him? how about her?
Claremore is the hometown of Will Roger, Patti Page and my mother. We went down the street my grandparents lived on, looking for anything of my mother’s childhood home that I could remember. I saw the building that used to be the ice cream shop that we would walk to as children…but I couldn’t identify which house was Grandma Gammel’s. It doesn’t matter; I felt her and my other kin folks as we walked down the street, from one shop to another. Home.
There are places in my heart that I never lived that feel like home. Being in Claremore, breathing in memories, is one.
Another is my Uncle Raymond’s home. We were there this evening with many of my dad’s siblings and their families. As soon as I saw my grandfather’s silo, I felt my heart swell. When I stepped from the car and looked at the dairy and the cows with their calves, many newborn, close to their sides, I stepped back in time. Back to a place so filled with memories that it was hard to think of just one. The pasture where I rode horses…early mornings, milking cows when my eyes were barely open, the fields where we baled hay…the storm cellar, filled with creepy things that had to share their space with us when a tornado came too close.
My first kiss happened here. Here is where I shared my deepest, heartfelt dreams with my favorite aunt. Drive in movies…eating at Sonic (Frito Chili Pies and Cherry Limeades)…playing with cousins, going fishing with my grandpa…childhood at it’s best.
It all rushed at me today, like a wave crashing on a beach. Memories pouring over me and lifting me out to sea with them.
Illinois is my home…but Oklahoma will always hold a piece of my heart.