For most of my life, I looked outside of the boundaries of my yard to the somewhere beyond that I longed to be. As the years go by, so quickly, I long for the times and place I was trying to escape and I wish I could go back in time and tell myself to appreciate and savor every moment at the Ponderosa. (That's what my mom called our pice of the world)

A couple of weeks ago, I went back home, where I grew up, to celebrate my dad's 80th birthday. While I was there, enjoying family and reminiscing about my favorite moments of the past, I realized how much of it I missed because I was so anxious to leave it all behind.

Driving with my husband down our dead-end road, the one I would ride my bike on every day, I felt overwhelmed with emotion. The road seemed so long when I was a child. Mom would never let us go beyond the stop sign at the end of the road because she was afraid a car might hit us. It was a busier road than the road we lived on. I remember stopping my bike and watching the cars go by wishing I was driving away to find exciting things and places like the ones I would read about in books. As a child, I didn't realize that the most wonderful, loving, and supportive place was behind me, not in front of me.

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My mom would tell stories of me, as a little girl, trying to run away at least a couple of times a year. I know it will shock you, but I was a very passionate, emotional, and outspoken child. LOL. Mom would watch me pack my bag, listen to me giving her the business, kiss me good-bye at the front door, and watch me walk down the driveway and toward the stop sign at the end of the road.

Once I would get there, I would stop and try to pick a direction. I could turn left or right. As I thought about which direction to pick, I looked back towards the house and the was my mom standing at the end of the driveway. She would always gently smile and wave to me, letting me know she was there if I needed her. And, it never took very long to realize, I did. I wasn't ready to head off into my future quite yet.

When I finally left for college, I never looked back. I was so ready to see the world, meet new people, and experience all life would offer me. This time, instead of leaving my house and walking down our dead-end road with an under packed suitcase, my parents drove me to Bloomington, with all of my belongings, to attend Indiana University. They helped me move into my dorm and get settled.

When it was time for my parents to reluctantly leave me to begin my adventure, I walked them downstairs to the circle drive, where their car was parked. I kissed them goodbye and walked back toward the dorm bursting with excitement. As I reached the front door to the dorm, I turned around and walked back toward the drive to watch my parents turn for home. At the time I reached the curb and saw their car getting ready to turn left toward home, my mom looked back toward the dorm and saw me standing there on the sidewalk. I gently smiled and waved at her, reminding her I would always be with her and she would always be with me. We both had tears in our eyes and joy in our hearts. Life would never be the same.

I had such a wonderful childhood and my parents were amazing. Losing my mom almost 5 years ago and watching my dad slowly succumb to Alzheimer's, I see my past, my present, and my future differently. Because of my past, I am looking forward to my future without forgetting to live in the present.


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