Past the prison, through the swamp, over the familiar bridge, and into the small town that held so many childhood memories.
Things hadn't changed all that much.
There was the school...and the store just around the corner from the house we always slept in while visiting.
There was the clothesline. And I knew that right inside that door would be the kitchen, sandwiched between the bathroom and the family room with the stove in the middle.
The railroad tracks remained at the end of the street, just like I remembered.
And at the dead end was the cemetery. Not on a map, without a sign.
History surrounded us as I shared stories with my husband as he held our son in the blazing heat while bugs, large and small, made meals of our legs.
It felt so much hotter there than it had been at home.
For the sake of comfort, I had worn a free-flowing cotton dress. Once there, I realized that it was all black, perhaps fitting for the occasion, yet not on purpose.
He passed me flowers, saying "These are for Gail," and showed me the slot where they should go...because I hadn't a clue.
Like I knew before going, she wasn't there, but thoughts of her, my grandmother, great-grandmother, and great-grandfather, all people I knew and loved, all memorialized in that location, flooded my mind.
I wondered aloud about what it must have been like to be born there eleven decades ago. I lamented the fact that I didn't ask more questions when I had the opportunity.
We stayed for a bit longer.
He waited until I gave the cue that it was time to head back to the car, never rushing me, following my lead.
There was no plan, yet it felt that what needed to be done was accomplished.
The quiet understanding that led to a road trip to my past was appreciated in ways I could not fully express.
Instead of talking, we went to lunch, dining on southern staples and replenishing ourselves for the trip back and, honestly, the rest of the day.
Bodies and souls fed, we said goodbye.