Through a Child’s Eye

Driving down the narrow, winding road my heart leapt as I approached the old town hall I’d remembered so well.  I had finally ventured back to the little town where I’d grown up so long ago.

I had intended for so many years to return there.  It has always possessed some of the most cherished memories of my life and had for some time aroused a sentimental curiosity within me.  Yet I reminded myself that to enter the past is impossible as the old saying, “you can never go back home” echoed through the corners of my mind.

As I rounded the corner by the old town hall I slowly drove past house after house.  I was disillusioned by what I saw.  I wondered how this could possibly be the same small town in which I’d grown-up.   The roads all seemed so much narrower now than I had remembered and the houses had aged beyond belief.  Despite a vague familiarity nothing looked quite the same to me.  I experienced a strange, deep surge of sadness.

Driving on, I felt certain that the old house in which I’d grown up would surely not disappoint me.  How well I remembered it’s beauty.  As a child I’d always loved to think of it as my huge white castle.  It was surrounded by a wonderland of Catalpa Trees, lilac bushes, apple orchards and hundreds of lovely flowers.  A perfect setting for a child to imagine her very own wonderland.  It had always been a place which radiated love and tranquility and I’d always known happiness there.  It was almost as if all those beautiful memories had, for years, been beckoning my brief return.

Turning into the long, narrow, gravel driveway, I slowly passed what I had remembered as a beautiful garden.  It had flourished under the tender loving care which my grandfather had labored many long, hard hours to provide.  There, now before me, stood only an enormous field of tall, unkempt weeds.

I thought to myself how grateful I was that my grandfather would never have to bear the heartbreak that seeing this would have brought him.  I visualized him there, pushing his old hand tiller, the sun beating mercilessly down on his back.  I looked farther ahead expecting to see the picturesque apple orchards, but they, too, were gone.  Everything looked so painfully desolate.

Driving on, my eyes fell upon the house which has, for so long held so many of the wonderful memories of my childhood.  Shocked, I saw before me a decrepit old house.  It was no longer the towering white “castle” that I’d hoped to find.  It obviously had been neglected and allowed to weather with the years.  It appeared to be crying out for the care that it had once known.  There were no blossoming Catalpa trees nor billowy lilac bushes standing majectically around it.   Only brownish, sun-dried grass which desperately thirsted for water.

I stopped my car and sat silently engulfed in sadness.  My heart cried out to that dear old place that I had loved so well.  I knew then that I should never have ventured back.  As I felt a tear emerging, a sound caught my attention.  I looked up to see a little girl of about five come running out of the house slamming the old porch door behind her.  I wondered how she could appear so happy in that old run-down place.

As I was just about to drive away, she ran toward my car.  As I paused to roll down my window, she very cheerfully announced “Hello!  I’m Snow White and this is my cottage where I live with my seven dwarfs!  Would youu like to play with us?”  I smiled but shook my head ‘no’.  As she turned and scurried away it became apparent to me that she was every bit as happy there as I’d once been.  I pondered over her words, “this is my cottage.”  They reminded me so vividly of the way in which I had referred to that place as my “castle” when I’d been her age. 

As I paused to watch her happily at play, my heart was suddenly warmed by what I saw.  It was then that I realized that that dear old place had not really lost it’s beauty at all.  The old cliche “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” ran through my mind.  I had seen reflected in the little girl’s eyes every bit of the beauty that I had once known there.   I wondered whether perhaps she, too, would one day return there just as I had.  I somehow hoped that she wouldn’t.

Driving away, I dried the tear that I’d felt emerging earlier, no longer a tear of sorrow.  For, the little girl I’d met had unknowingly transformed my sadness into a very peaceful kind of understanding and acceptance.

(Copyright 2014 by JC Fredlund) Copyright 1974 – 2014 by JC Fredlund (JC Eberhart, Past Pen Name): ©JC Fredlund and JC Fredlund’s Artistry Blog, 1974 – 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to JC Fredlund and the link to http://www.JCFredlund.wordpress.com blog is included with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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