If you look, all you can see is a neighborhood, with cookie-stamped houses, manicured lawns with trees not big enough to shade yet, complete with a perfect asphalt trail around the perimeter for those who need a view without a destination.
But I see fields spreading in every direction with maybe one farm in the distance. On that same corner stands a large white house with a wrap-around porch complete with rockers, a large oak with a swing in the front telling the story of a farmer’s family from long ago. Except when I knew it, as a little girl, it housed people who needed a home…and care. The physically incapable and the mentally challenged…I can still see some of their faces.
For much of my young life, we visited Holly House once a month where my mother and a few of her friends celebrated birthdays with cupcakes, ran several bingo games but mostly talked and embraced, building relationships. There was never a question of whether we should accompany her…we always did. And there was never a question of whether we were expected to do the same. I passed out cupcakes, I rolled the wire ball and called out numbers (on a lucky night) and talked and embraced.
This was my mother’s gift. It was never clear whether she chose certain people to love or if they found her. It was just a never-ending flow. As near as last month I found a box of Tupperware at my father’s house given to me and my sister during childhood by Faye, my mother’s mentally ill friend. My mother was patient and steadfast, never tiring. She visited, served, shared her home and many meals with many that most would overlook.
…and I grew up thinking it normal.
What will my kids believe is normal? What does their Holly House look like?