Front Porch Stories: The Gathering Place
By Kathy Bohannon, Front Porch Stories
Throughout my childhood, family gathered at mom and dad’s. I really don’t know why ours was the house everyone came to, but on any given weekend or holiday the rooms on Karen Road were filled with laughter, conversation and the wonderful smells of delicious dishes hot from the oven.
Family from out of town would come and spend days at our house. Cousins would play, grown-ups would stay up late, and everyone had someone to enjoy time together with. There were times we would venture to North Carolina to see my grandmother. As I recall she was rather grumpy, but she loved seeing my mother while tolerating the rest of us.
Meanwhile my cousins and I spent our time exploring her backyard, driveway and front porch. We could hear the laughter coming through open windows, and sometimes we’d sit in bushes beneath those windows and mock the boisterous adults.
It was all in fun, and when the time came to leave, we each parted with good memories of one another.
Of course we continued visiting mom and dad after I married, and it was like I had never left. My two sisters and brother would arrive and mom would be in an apron, preparing a meal for us all. Dad would most often be in the living room waiting for each of us to come in and greet him. Nieces and nephews would arrive, and we would soon be too large a number for one room of the house. We would spill in and out between the apartment downstairs, the upstairs kitchen and the living room. During the warmer times we would end up taking chairs onto the carport. One thing was constant: regardless of where we gathered, we were together for hours on end.
Eventually my husband and I moved our family to Savannah but visited mom and dad as often as possible. I spent weeks with them during their separate life-ending illnesses. Though I knew their days were short, little did I know the gatherings would come to an end after their passings.
It’s something that happens with time. Like not knowing the last time a child will climb into your lap for comfort. You blink and that child is a surly teenager who wants to try to solve their problems on their own. It’s a completely natural progression, but so easily looked back on with a bit of gladness that we ever had it at all, but a healthy dose of sadness that it’s gone now.
Before the quarantine, my siblings and I had discussed many times how we miss those gatherings with mom, dad, and family. During this time of life, my husband and I are retired and it is nothing for us to spend days on end without seeing our family. Our son and his family live several hours away, and our daughter and her family are busy with their lives. But there’s something about not being “allowed” to hop in the car and go see family or friends that is just downright sad.
I feel that when this is all over, we will be a changed society. We will most likely appreciate those times we gather, whether it be in our homes, our churches, schools, events and even something as simple as greeting a friend in the grocery store. We didn’t know mom and dad held the key to our family gathering. We didn’t know a virus could change life as we all know it. But we can come out better, and when it is over take the time we need to just to simply gather and appreciate one another more than ever before.
Kathy Bohannon is a Christian humorist and inspirational speaker. An avid paper crafter, she also enjoys sewing and needle arts. Kathy shares her love of crafting on Facebook and on YouTube at Kathy Bohannon Creatively Blessed. She and her husband John live in west Newnan. She can be reached at [email protected]