The Natural Order of Things


Last weekend, on a mandatory vacation, the boy, the dog and I drove three hours deep into Virginia countryside to stay in a teeny tiny condo on Smith Mountain Lake. We saw a great abundance of the three staples of the rural South: churches, cows and graveyards. Every time we saw tombstones we scanned for cows to, as Henry said, “restore the natural order of things.” Our newly for sale house was being shown and our realtor had said in the politest way possible, “get out.” Stan was supposed to come but had to stay behind to tend to the emergency smell emanating from our crawlspace. Bless his heart.

As we listened to music and contemplated the meaning of life, I realized this was the first vacation Henry and I had taken alone, and on Mother’s Day weekend no less! I was deeply ready to step outside of our crazy year and relax stress-free. The condo’s welcome letter suggested we bring linens which I interpreted as sheets, but apparently included blankets as well. Luckily I had a picnic blanket and a packing blanket in the trunk of my car. The welcome letter said "sleeps 4” which meant a Murphy bed and a futon couch in a room the size of a large storage closet. The bathtub with jets drained water as fast as it filled and the much advertised pool was not yet open for the season. But we had a wonderful time.

We explored the national park and swam in the lake. I read an entire book and Henry wrote songs and played guitar. We couldn’t figure out how to turn the TV on so we didn’t. We ate good food, explored, and snuggled with Virginia. We talked about music, art, politics, the meaning of life. Finishing middle school and what house we’ll live in next. We grew up in the same house in the same neighborhood and have gone to many of the same schools. But he’s nothing like I was at his age.

I pray the genes for alcoholism, addiction, depression, and anxiety skip a generation…..or get stamped out of our bloodline altogether. I pray he won’t yell at his mother what I yelled at mine: I won’t learn from your mistakes….. I’m going to make all my mistakes on my own! I pray what my mother fought so hard to pass down to me will be transferred directly to him. That he will continue to grow his fierce sense of justice and confidence and intelligence and creativity and love and can avoid the deep trenches of illness and addiction. But for now I’m just grateful he’ll still hang out with me at all and that Stan found the dead animal in the crawlspace duct.

Valley HaggardComment