I am running, running like the wind, across the acres of prickly grass-covered, rock-studded, Virginia red clay. My feet bare, I am racing time-lapse clouds, chasing their shadows. The mountains bear witness to my flight, their deep folds and gentle edges capture and absorb my delight as they have my sorrow and worry and joy before.
There—only a few more paces—I dash past the rose-covered trellis and stop. “Girl, where are your shoes?” he asks. All legs, towering over me, he is a Wrangler-clad, white-haired flamingo. I draw a line up and up with my nose. His eyes glimmer, sky-blue against blue sky. The clouds roll on, I watch them tumble over the white house, the sun sprinting after them. Grandpa has disappeared; he is a retreating silhouette. I follow; he reappears in the shade of the azalea-hedged porch.
The door swings open. I see the glasses first. Already sweating, they’re filled with ice and pink lemonade. Grandma appears. Taking into account the height of her carefully arranged hair, she stands something like five feet tall. All grace and beauty, a fierce if quiet little lady who I adore because she cuts the crust off my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and teaches me to count, paint, and cross stitch.
Grandma and I sit on the porch swing. I watch her out of the side of my eye, trying to mimic her posture, the way she holds her glass. Grandpa, sprawled out in the glider, lets out a huff and sips his lemonade. We don't talk about much—we sit and rock and watch the birds.
They're gone now. The memories of a childhood spent with them in the shadow of the Blue Ridge mountains are vivid enough that I sometimes forget they aren't still puttering around the house, fussing at each other with the irrepressible annoyance and irrefutable love of an unconquered 60+ years of marriage thick in their voices and movements.
Last Wednesday, their home—my home—became home to someone else. Before we said goodbye, though, my family spent one last evening together in the place where I learned to walk and run and fall and get back up.
I asked my friend, the incredibly talented John Robinson, to take some photos of us all together. I can never thank him enough for these beautiful images. They'll always be among my most treasured possessions.
If you're in the Charlottesville area and are looking for a gifted, funny, kind photographer, Robinson Imagery it is.
All credit for all photos goes to John Robinson of Robinson Imagery.