© 2010 Karen Van Fossan
It used to be, back when my dad worked as a minister, his pad of yellow paper was never hard to find. He scribbled down his Sunday sermons just about every Saturday night of my youth.
Today, finding his yellow paper took some doing. But here it is – a page of it anyway. And a pen from PNC Bank, which must have, like his insurance business, sprung up after I moved to North Dakota. The yellow pad was hiding. No, not hiding. Waiting. Taking a rest. Under a stack of catalogs for cars and parts of cars.
When David, my younger brother, was three years old or so, the church ladies asked him, “What does your daddy do?”
Without hesitation, David declared – “Work on cars.”
This gave the United Methodist Women's Group no end of joy in the retelling. And, though I've never been a United Methodist Woman, I take some joy in recounting it myself.
Anyway, here I am, in United Methodist country. The middle of Illinois. I would know it with a blindfold and both hands – with piece of yellow paper – tied behind my back.
The cicadas seem to eat the air itself in this place. The birds sing wet songs, songs that sound like water, like there's nectar in their throats. The green things elbow each other, entwine each other, dance, out-do, reaching for the ever-heavy sun.
I wonder, am I of this place, where people squeeze the produce in ways no one seems to dream of in North Dakota?
As soon as I return here, my fingers itch for a pen, a scrap of empty paper, a story of my own to add to the stories I used to hear – the tales of stolen watermelons, long red fingernails, the black dog of death, the pig who squealed.
Inside that house, through two sets of doors, there is, as my dad puts it, “a living room of stuff.”
Grandma and Grandpa's stuff. The storytellers' stuff.
Today, and then tomorrow, I will wade through that stuff, making minute decisions of great weight. A bag of Grandma's shoes. A humidifier. A wheel chair. The touch-me, singing reindeer that could only have come from Uncle Darrell and Aunt Suzanne.
How many pairs of Grandma's shoes – Grandpa's hankies, knick-knacks, long-forgotten photographs – will travel on the train with me to the quieter, dryer place I now call home?
Home is where the heart is, they say.
And sometimes – home is where there's yellow paper.