I went to Nashville this weekend with my mom. I had a lot to ponder on in Nashville. When I’m away from home, without my husband and kids, it’s like I’m in an alternate universe. Like I’m someplace that exists only for the time that I’m there and when I leave, it will continue just as I left it. I am able to feel like I am watching it all happen, without really being a part of it all. The weird thing about being with family that you hardly ever see is that it can make you feel a part of something bigger than yourself, enveloped in love, protected and comforted by tradition, while at the same time feeling like you are very different from everyone and not really fitting in anywhere. You feel very alone and yet very loved. Now that I’m home, I’m not really done processing, but I am going to attempt to tell you about my family and about Nashville.

In Nashville, my Aunt Donna turns 61. We celebrate at her house with ham and beans and taco soup and cornbread and homemade ice cream. She has a constant smile on her face as she graciously and lovingly enjoys her family that comes to celebrate with her. Her husband, my Uncle David makes me sausage and coffee every morning. In Nashville, my grandpa plays guitar. He can’t see the strings anymore, but it doesn’t matter. The sound of his guitar fills the house like beams of sunlight fill the space between the trees on a wooded path through the forest. It reminds me of love and of warmth. His brothers and sister and sister-in-law come too. They play guitar and piano and lend their rich voices to the joyful sound. My mom and her sister dance to the music. When Great Aunt Carolyn sits at the piano and sings about the trials she’s been through and how God has seen her through and how He’ll someday take her home to a place where she’ll see clearly, my mom cries. When I look at how beautiful her hands look on the keyboard, I cry. My grandma cares for my grandpa with the love that more than sixty years of marriage brings. My heart feels very full when I watch her and listen to stories of her life, knowing how blessed I am at the legacy she has given me through my mom, who makes life fun and musical. We play four games of Scrabble. Grandma wins three and my mom wins one.

It rains almost the whole time in Nashville. The sound of the rain beating on the windows in the ceiling of Aunt Donna’s house binds us together as we take shelter together as a family. My cousin Bethany, her husband Albert, and their family of four beautiful daughters spend the day with us. They bring life and joy and laughter and happy exhaustion as only children can. They make me miss my own girls. My Grandpa tells me that I’m just like my brother, Josh. (We don’t have too much to say, my brother and I…) My mom’s friend from high school, Karen, takes us out to coffee and I enjoy the easy, relaxing conversation of old friends that has become a part of my heritage.

I love Nashville, with its rolling green yards and weeping willow trees and big, brick houses with no fences. It’s a beautiful place and I am blessed. I have lived my life just a little bit more this weekend.

  1. #1 by Mom on September 26, 2006 - 5:45 pm

    I love my family and I had a wonderful time in Nashville. But only after reading your thoughts and wiping my tears did I realize how deeply our heavenly Father loves our family. I’ve never had so much fun waiting in the DFW airport as I did those five hours through three missed flights with you!

  2. #2 by Leslie on September 26, 2006 - 5:58 pm

    Yay for flying standby!

  3. #3 by Clay Gaspard on September 26, 2006 - 6:28 pm

    Great photos Leslie! You’ve definitely got a touch.

  4. #4 by Chris Linebarger on September 26, 2006 - 9:43 pm

    You have a wonderful family indeed. I am blessed to have been adopted into it. The last picture you posted is amazing. You look like a princess. You are my princess. I am glad you went…. but even more glad that you are home.

  5. #5 by your dad on September 27, 2006 - 6:45 pm

    Wow! (There is one of those exclamation points.) Sorry I missed this one. My sister Donna is sorry too, she is doing better today . . . finally. Is this not something that your mom and your dad both have a sister Donna?

  6. #6 by Karen on September 28, 2006 - 3:26 pm

    Oh, Wow, Leslie. I’m in the computer Center of the Sheraton Hotel and Convention Center in Burlington, Vt reading my e-mail (I just LOVE living in the 21st century)! and I am overwhelmed by your piece on Nashville–there’s no other place quite like it. By the way, your Mom and I’ve been friends since JUNIOR high! I’m so glad I got to see all you Grammer women. Come back soon!

  7. #7 by LLPH on September 29, 2006 - 12:00 pm

    Cool story. Thanks for telling it in such a way that it felt like I got to experience some of the joy you felt.

  8. #8 by Josh on September 29, 2006 - 8:02 pm

    Thanks for writing all that Les.

  9. #9 by Bean on September 30, 2006 - 6:25 am

    Nashville…my memories are not so great of Nashville. Last time I was there, I was with Mark Duquette in a Ford E-350 that had no break fluid. There we were on a Sunday…the Sunday is key to this story as no one graces themselves outside of Church until 1 pm…with no break fluid and a timeline to get to Cincinnati. The shops finally opened and two really cranky people (myself and Mark) only calmed down after filling ourselves with fresh Crispy Cremes. We looked for Amy Grant…but she got her donuts earlier in the morning before Church. However…my memories of spending time at your Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Illinois is ingrained in my memory forever. Awesome time. Awesome place. Awesome people. This is where we played ringers and I tackled Josh and shoved his head in a snow bank after he wacked me in the head with a snowball. It’s hard to believe that was 13 years ago. Thanks for allowing me to reflect…more…I’ve been doing a lot of that lately. I miss all of it in a way…will miss all of it…and know it won’t ever be the same again.

  10. #10 by Sally on October 1, 2006 - 10:56 am

    As I to sit here in my quiet house this morning missing church for quiet time alone, I am blessed by your Nashville piece as well as the camera conflict.

    What a priviledge it has been to be a part of such a beautiful family! It makes me sad at the special times I’ve missed and your words make me not want to miss those times anymore. The generation you were with will not be with us much longer and that brings me much sadness. I want to hold on to the precious times we have left with them.

    Let remember your thoughts as we get ready to celebrate Christmas together! As Christmas gets closer, life will get very busy, money very tight, and the thought of sharing 2 bathrooms with 25-28 people will try to overshadow the special unrepeatable moments of sharing Christ birth with house of God’s chosen people.
    Let’s not take that for granted! You’re a beautiful person, Leslie! Thanks for Blogging!

  11. #11 by Leslie on October 1, 2006 - 4:27 pm

    Thanks, Sally. Your words and your heart mean a lot to me.

  12. #12 by Leslie on October 1, 2006 - 5:01 pm

    Thanks, Bean for your words too. (Somehow I missed your comment the first time around.) I like reflective Bean. That trip is a good memory for me too. A lot has happened in the 13 years since, eh? Seven kids in particular. Seven beautiful kids.

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