Monday, May 17, 2010

Time has a direction. Space doesn't.

For months I've been thinking about this; contemplating the meaning of time and where I fit within it. The initial purpose has been the research for a new book I began over the winter. But I will admit the genesis of this thought process came as I struggled with what to do with the rest of my life and where to do it.

We can never go backward, unless we're in science fiction. And I am beginning to think that we can never go home again either. At least not as the same people we were when we left. Even if home has changed little, we have changed. So even the act of placing ourselves back where we began has the effect of changing the place.

For me personally and many people I know, the time since Easter has been a rough one. For others I don't know personally, this has been a time when the very roots of what love, home and security are supposed to mean were shattered.

Just as we set out for a final trip back to my Mother's Wisconsin place in April, the news hit of the adoptive mother who put her seven-year-old adopted son on a plane and sent him back to Moscow. I don't pretend to know the details nor is this the place to say what I think of her actions. As an adoptive Mother of a now 18-year-old Russian adopte, I wept for the child.

I was swept into the intense international media frenzy surrounding this act because of my position as National Vice Chair of Families for Russian and Ukrainian Adoption. Because I manage our national brand, including our website and communications, I spent days answering media questions and writing the FRUA Position paper about the incident. I helped craft messages to our adoptive parents to advise them on reassuring their children that they would not loose their parents as well; and to their schools, to explain how to help adoptive children struggling to understand it. As the FRUA liaison with the US State Dept., I led development of the FRUA Policy Recommendations incorporated into prepartion for the bilateral talks on inter-country adoption that having been going on in Russia this past week. The work is just beginning and, for me, it is all volunteer.

Through all this I thought about the human rights of that child—and for all of us for that matter--to a secure and loving home. To know that there is a place where we are accepted and loved, able to be who and what we are put on this earth to be. I thought about that between the media calls, as I packed and loaded a U-haul with the things that have come to me from my parents. Things that had been left there because,for a time, we thought that we would be the third generation of my family to live, at least part-time, in that old place. It was built in 1885 as the parsonage of the country church next door. It is not to be.

Not just memories flooded around me as we finally finished emptying the Wisconsin country place. Voices came.

They echo across space and time; my Grandfather, rocking away on the lawn glider telling stories: about riding the rails in the frontier west just after the turn of the last century, picking apples in Washington State orchards, putting up buildings in San Fransciso after the 1906 earthquake.

Echoes of my grandmother returned, rattling her iron pots on the old SouthBend stove in the basement, calling everyone to sit down to eat the Christmas Eve Smörgasbord, all the grand children and aunts and uncles gathered 'round. There is my Father, walking from his beloved little red barn, work gloves in one hand, the other raised in greeting as we pull in after the cross-country journey. And his voice again as we wandered the woods together, “This place gives me peace.”

There are my Mother's gentle words as she sat at the dining room table, pen in hand, recording the day's events on her calendars and writing another of her copious letters to us; “Hello Dear, it's Mother....”

There is the happy laughter of my children and their cousins at seasonal work improving their tree house in “The Wisconsin Tree.”

Time moves forward. Spaces are fixed and not directional. They are places that remind us that we come from a place and eventually must move on to another. The Wisconsin place went on the market last week as a “cute hobby farm with house, barn and 18 acres, partly wooded.”

I left the driveway pulling the U-haul. When one says goodbye, sometimes it really is.

1 comment:

Jennie G said...

I can only imagine how you felt having to put your family "HOME" on the market. I'm sorry things didn't work out as you had hoped. As you stated, we move forward, but the memories are forever with us.