March 5, 2012

Ohio (Or, Home)

Of the last 48 hours, we've spent around 14 hours in the car and added 800 miles to the speedometer. In the process we tested our kids' patience and found out just how much Owen can eat during 8 hour car rides. (As it turns out, he racks up an impressive calorie count during a car trip.)

We got a call on Friday night that my grandmother wasn't doing well. All our weekend plans went out the window. We quickly packed our stuff and headed out early Saturday morning.

My grandmother was in better shape than I'd expected. I spent a while talking to my aunt who lives around the corner from her. "She's going downhill fast. I wanted you to see her while she was still her. I'm glad you came home."

I've never lived in Zanesville, Ohio. If I added up the time I've spent there since I was a kid, visiting my grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles and other assorted family that seems to be omnipresent in Zanesville, it would probably add up to three or four months. If that. It's definitely not where I hang my hat, where I live and work and raise my family. But it's where both sets of grandparents planted their roots, where my parents went to high school and met and fell in love and married. It's where the majority of my family remains. And while I've never formally adopted it, never lived there or planted roots of my own, yes, it's home.

Maple Avenue - the town's main thoroughfare - was named after the fact that it was lined with maple trees. Those trees were sacrificed to the widening of the road and the development of strip malls and fast food restaurants. I'm told it used to be beautiful. It no longer is. But drive down Maple Avenue with my dad and he'll tell you everything about every building that's still in existence. And everyone who's opened a business in every remaining building. He still knows them all. The Kroger store he worked in - was the butcher for while putting himself through college - still stands. The kids that work in it are probably remarkably like him. They probably went to the same elementary school on Dresden Avenue, made fun of the same girls they'd eventually marry, and had the same dreams of escaping the maple-lined streets of small town Ohio.

Again, I guess, in a sense, it is home.

My grandmother is going to die soon. She's tired. She wants to be with her husband. The next time we go to Zanesville will be for her funeral. But I guess it's only right to go home to celebrate the life of someone who planted her roots so very deep.

Posted by Chris at March 5, 2012 7:33 AM

I'm sorry to hear about your grandmother.

Posted by: Fraulein N at March 5, 2012 8:23 AM

I know Zanesville, only for having driven through or by it a gazillion times on my way to one place or the other. I went to college in Beaver Falls PA, and grad school in Athens, OH and I lived in Cleveland for part of my child/young adulthood. Ohio is home in many ways for me, even though no one I am related to lives there any longer.

Posted by: MidLyfeMama at March 5, 2012 9:36 AM

Wonderfully written post.

Posted by: Heather at March 5, 2012 10:03 AM

I'm sorry for you impending loss, Chris.

Posted by: Brooke at March 5, 2012 11:54 AM

I'm so sorry about your grandmother. Peace to you.

Posted by: Julie at March 5, 2012 12:57 PM

I don't know what to say. I am sorry for your impending loss, and very glad you all got to see your grandmother before her passing.

Posted by: Poppy at March 5, 2012 9:02 PM

I still occasionally muse that growing up (in Ohio, not surprisingly) there was home, and there was "down home," which was the small town in Kentucky where my grandparents were born and raised. Even though they were the last generation to have made it home, it was and is "down home" to all of us.

My favorite sentiment is Robert Frost's "Home is where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in." I can't imagine a circumstance wherein it wouldn't be true.

May your grandmother's memory be a blessing.

Posted by: Heidi at March 5, 2012 10:19 PM

wonderful sentiments. bless your grandmother.

Posted by: kati at March 6, 2012 1:10 AM

My grandmother's in a similar boat. She's been fighting off some sort of general ick for awhile now and was recently informed that it turns out the ick is cancer in her lungs and stomach. She's ready to go, has been ready for some time now. Other wings of the family wail and gnash their teeth, while my grandmother and I, long-time sharers of brain waves and general outlooks, sit quietly and await the inevitable. I'm inclined to want her to be free of pain and woe and she's inclined toward my inclination. All this to say that I can relate to your dealings with grandma.

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at March 8, 2012 5:57 PM