I haven’t heard from any of my family in Georgia in more than ten years, haven’t seen any of them in 20, not since my Dad’s funeral in 1988.
I remembered some road names and plotted a course. Nothing looked the same and I didn’t know my way around. I remembered Old Waynesboro Road where my grandparents lived, Proctor & Gamble’s winking blinking lights (my childhood landmark) and Crepe Myrtle Dr, the house I grew up in.
Driving slowly I caught a glimpse of my grandparents house and the farm where I played when I was a girl. It looked so different, the store’s porch is now enclosed and the trees were gone from the old farmhouse. There was pasture across the street; now a school. I turned around in what was once Uncle Jr’s drive, now a house on either side where fields and horses once were. The road was overgrown the horse fence gone. It used to remind me of Tara in Gone with the Wind. The once large brick house seemed so small now. Everything seems so much larger when we’re children. We joked about someone coming out with a gun; it is rural Georgia after all.
I turned around and went back to Nana’s house, pulled in and headed back toward the barn. Told stories of the games I played, the barn, what it looked like 45 years ago. Again we were afraid we’d be shot for trespassing so we headed for the road.
We saw a lady walking from the road to the house and I waved nervously. Amber asked “why don’t you ask her if she knew your family” I replied “I doubt it, they’ve been gone since Nana died in ‘97”. I agreed to back up and if she came out of the house I’d ask, otherwise it was on to the next stop. She did come out and I asked “Do you know the Johnson’s who used to live here?” She perked up exclaiming “I am a Johnson”. My eyes lit up and shock took over, who could this woman be, “which one” I asked as I fumbled with the seatbelt and door handle. The reply was more than I could hope for; she was “Angela”, a cousin I played with on the farm as a young child. I always had a soft spot for her. As I fall out of the van I exclaim, “I’m Wyatt’s daughter”. We hug, I ball.
We talk a few minutes and she asks if I want to see “mom & dad”. Confused I asked “whose mom & dad”. I thought, “My parents are dead, her parents are dead: who could she be talking about?” With a puzzled look she replied “mine”, tears well up again. I nearly lost it. I saw Aunt Hazel and balled, again, and then Uncle Jr, and Angela’s sister, Linda, came over. We all talked and looked at pictures. How much everyone has changed. How I have missed them so.
We then stopped by Aunt Sara & Uncle Carl’s, they now live next door in one of the houses in the field. We chatted and ate the best soup ever.
My daughters were so excited to meet this long lost family and ate up the stories. They’ve missed their whole lives being with them.
It’s on to cousin SuAnn’s. Oh, I’ve missed her so much. I was probably closest to Sue; we lived close by each other when we were young, just a road apart. She was the closest to me in age and we remained close to her family for years after we moved from Georgia. I was Aunt Martha’s (Sue’s mom) precious and I knew it. She adored me and I her. We visited with Sue, her husband Mark, and daughter Jesslyn who is now married to Zack.
We decided to stay the night and met up with everyone the next day for BBQ & hash, then to the cemetery where Dad and my grandparents are buried. After we went to where I had lived on Crepe Myrtle. Everything was so different, so rundown.
There were so many delays getting here, but Jesus arranged it that way, because if not, this restoration may never have taken place. It was a surreal experience. To be with all my family, for my girls to share this with me, for them to know my roots and theirs, and to know those I loved and believed long gone; this was the best birthday ever, the perfect jubilee day.
My jubilee birthday – Jesus returned me to my homelands and restored me with my family. Jesus restores and returns us all we have lost, all that has been taken from us or that we have allowed to be taken.
Jesus is our Jubilee – a life of freedom and restoration.