This time, daughter is going home

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 17, 2004

This past Friday found me on the road to Oxford with a car full of Holly’s clothes, shoes, purses, pictures for her walls and a recliner, the very last haul from Natchez to her new dwelling.

She had worked hard all summer waiting tables at Magnolia Grill, taking classes and of course there was the two weeks from &uot;you-know-where&uot; when she had her wisdom teeth taken out.

So I had told her that I would bring the things that she could not get in her car, help her arrange furniture, hang pictures and we would scoot up to Memphis for the weekend and have a little time together.

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The weather was beautiful, the traffic light and I was there unloading and hanging pictures in no time. With that behind us, we headed to Memphis. Checking into the hotel, I was asked if we were there for the Elvis festivities. Seems that I had forgotten it was the weekend of the anniversary of his death. No wonder I had trouble finding a room.

And I’m sure my grandmother was looking down on me and shaking her head in disappointment. Holly and I did notice the schedule in the lobby for the Elvis fan club in town from Belgium. I guess we could have joined them for the candlelight vigil at Graceland, but we opted out.

That night found us in one of my very favorite types of places, a restaurant full of local folks, eating barbecue. Booths with vinyl seats lined the walls and tables with mismatched chairs filled all the remaining space. It wasn’t hard to pick what to have; they served barbecue and fried catfish with the standard sides of Texas toast, coleslaw and beans, and there were only two dessert choices.

No matter how long or how hard I cook in life there are some things I cannot make like the original &045; maybe a good imitation, but just not the same. My grandmother’s incredibly light biscuits and truly good ribs are two of those things.

These ribs were barely hanging on the bone when they were served up and there wasn’t anymore conversation until the last bone was gnawed clean.

The next day found us shopping and mostly hanging out and enjoying each other’s company. It was nice to spend some time with her and just catch up with what is going on with both us.

Sunday morning we headed back to Oxford and about 15 minutes from the city limits I could feel a familiar feeling creeping up. It was dread and I couldn’t believe it.

Scolding myself to remember she has been gone for a year now, happily going to school, making good grades and new friends, I didn’t know what to say. When we got to her townhouse I put it off as long as I could but the time came for me to get on the road.

Lightly I told her goodbye, reminding myself that the first football game is only three weeks away, and I gave her a quick hug and kiss on the cheek.

I climbed in my car and looked up to see that where once she would have stood and waved this time she had already closed the door. And it struck me: I was the one going home not her, she was home. Her new apartment filled with her things, her pictures and her new kitten is her home. It’s where she cooks, studies, sleeps and has people over for dinner and a movie, and I had been her guest for the weekend. The biggest surprise of all was that my eyes didn’t fill with tears this time as I left her. I couldn’t help but think as I took a deep breath and smiled that maybe instead of it being her that was being a big girl this time maybe it was me.

Christina Hall

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