Growing up at the Loxley house always meant that company was coming. There were very few weeks that we didn’t have someone pop in through the kitchen door. No one ever knocked. Had they knocked we would have looked at one another wondering, “What is that noise?” No, you did not knock on the door; you just walked through the door to welcome arms.
Some of the company came for the day. Some came to stay for awhile. All were welcomed and expected to make themselves at home. In many ways, I think Mom and Dad thrived on those visit. It fed their souls to have loved ones around them. Junior Shuff at most meals with Mom after Dad passed. Our home was home for anyone and everyone.
When I moved away from Neff Road, I understood just how important those visit were to my parents. Perhaps I realized even more than my parents did, since I had to move away from my roots and those I loved. We were close enough to make trips home and Appleton was near beautiful country, so we got occasional visitors. Of course, new babies always brought family to visit.
Moving to Oregon was a bit further and company from home seldom knocked on the door. Those who did make the journey by covered wagon (I joke. Mom and Dad thought I was living in the old west) were very much appreciated. The Sparks family and the Stagers. Raymond and Lena Linder. My sisters, their families, parents, cousins and aunts and uncles. Even my elementary music teacher Fern Fourman found her way to Oregon. Each and every one of them was deeply appreciated. What a gift when someone cares enough to come to visit!
I love going back to my roots. I hope that my visits mean the same to the people I care so deeply about. The miles are far, the years pass quickly and each visit is a gift.
Last week Mickey Gearing Rivers, who graduated with me, came up to Oregon from California for vacation. We antiqued in Aurora and had a great time. This week was extra special as Don and Janet Rhoades, my Neff Road neighbors, came to visit. They were taking a trip through the beautiful northwest and that is exactly where I live. We did some sightseeing, enjoyed dinner together and caught up on the comings and goings of Neff Road. I was allowed to slip back into the nest and gather the news that I miss now that my mother is gone. Old acquaintances made into new friendships with deeper meaning.
Today I saw my friend Linda Marinach Brown off after a short visit. She is a traveling nurse and presently working in Longview, Washington. We met up again at our class reunion in April after so many years apart. Now she is close enough to pop in for a visit once every so often. We laughed about days gone by and shook our heads at the our interpretations of that past. New experiences shared making an old friendship very special.
For those of you who have not lived away from Darke County, and I know you are many, please understand how important your visits are to those people who have moved for one reason or another. The older we get the more important and dear those relationships can be. It is not enough to be thought of once a year via a Christmas card or a Facebook message. The importance comes in knowing that someone cares enough to connect and make the effort to see you. I have had two wonderful gifts this week in the visits of my friends. Neff Road was just a little closer.
Pamela Loxley Drake is a former resident of Darke County and is the author of Neff Road and A Grandparent Voice blog. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.