Sunday, June 19, 2016

Be YOU by Monica Naegle

As I top Grovers hill and pass the Town Of Friendly Neighbors sign, a feeling of melancholy settles in.  Part of me feels like home.  The kind of feeling of walking into Nonie's house and you haven't been there in ages but certain things still feel the same.  There would be Banana bread with butter and cinnamon along with the homemade dried apples brought out to snack on.  Or a meal magically erected from a random supply of country crock and parkay tubs emerged one by one from the refrigerator.   If love was tangible Nonie's house would be how it felt.  The other part of me when topping the hill feels a sadness that I tucked away when I left almost 30 years ago.  A sadness not for me but for those who judged me then but never knew me.  That happens often in a small town where sometimes one thinks their opinions matter more than others feelings. I learned after fighting for many years in my relationship that harboring anger only hurts one person and that's the one it's inside of.  So although to think about them brings back a spark of what I felt then I quickly shuffle that to the back of my mind and smile at the memories that rush in and the lifelong friendships that forged.

I never knew street names existed only directions given using landmarks, buildings and people’s houses.  I lived across from the baptist church.  There was only one so never any confusion there.   Nonie's house was across from the Pioneer school.  I was finding a cousin's house recently and the directions given to me were,  "Turn right on the middle road across from the jr. High and go up by the old barn."  I drove right to it.  I still can remember certain phone numbers and P.O. Boxes when half the time I can't even recite my own cell number.   Just like the sticker I can feel in my toe from walking across the cemetery yesterday.  You can't see it,  you can't even feel it on the outside to get it out.  But every step you know it's there and it reminds you painfully at times.  

Yesterday I was only in town for a few hours. One of those life long friends lost her mother, unexpectedly.  And maybe it was only a few heartfelt hugs I could offer, you show up and you're there if merely just to show you care and offer support because that's what growing up small town is about.  Sitting there in the chapel that I grew up in, singing from the hymn books I held back then.  I realized once again how short and unpredictable life can be.  And how lucky I am to be able to share.  To share my heart, my stories or maybe even just a smile or a hug.  That's what it's all about.  You put yourself out there and you love, grow, influence, cry, laugh, celebrate, make mistakes, be unforgettable, be YOU.

(Monica is the daughter of John Naegle and Marsha Sowder; Her "Nonie" was Bernice Naegle)

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