Thomas Wolfe once wrote that You Can’t Go Home Again.
It was the title of a famous novel, and it has been quoted through the ages as a metaphor about our own lives and how we cannot live in the past.
Last week over the 4th of July, contrary to Wolfe’s axiom, I did go home again.
I’m glad I did.
It was an impromptu reunion, as my oldest son and his wife were traveling to Michigan from Minneapolis with my new grandson in tow. Once he made the announcement that little Theodore James Fitzwater would be coming to the Great Lakes State, my kids from around the country rallied and decided we all were going home. It was not a request, it was a mandate. So said the eldest. Okie Dokie, her wish was my command.
So from Minneapolis, Baton Rouge, Richmond and Gonzales, the Fitzwater clan descended on Northern Michigan to stay at my youngest daughter’s house in Gaylord, Michigan.
Gaylord is a scenic community in the rolling hills of the northern lower peninsula. It is an area rich in beauty, top-notch golf courses, inland lakes, woods, rivers, and great hunting and fishing.
When we all arrived, it was marvelous. Theodore James is one of the cutest little guys you’ll ever see, and he was totally engaged in what was going on. At six weeks old, he rolled over for the first time because he wanted to see what his Grandpa and two uncles were talking about behind him. Wherever we went over the next two days, he didn’t sleep one wink and just took in everything and everyone with a reflective eye. He’s going to be a special young man I assure you.
We took a day trip to Mackinac Island, one of the true gems of the Midwest. Located in the straits of Mackinac where Lakes Huron and Michigan come together, it is an island rich in Victorian character and a place where automobiles are banned. All transportation is by horse and buggy or bikes. The aroma of fudge and sweets permeates the downtown area. The view from the old fort overlooking the straits goes back over 200 years, a place where the Americans and Brits fought for control of the upper passage of the Great Lakes during the War of 1812.
It was here where I felt the first pull at the heart strings of my past. It was hard not to gaze at the astounding vista from the promenade at Fort Mackinac and not be moved by its grandeur. I worked there as a college student one summer, and the memories came flooding back. This was the best of Michigan in the summertime, and boy, I sure missed it. It is one of the reasons why you live in Michigan for the day we had on the 4th of July.
Alas, maybe Wolfe was right. As beautiful and moving and heart-rendering as that day and time was, it was just that: a moment in time. It is a moment and day I will never forget, but I had to remind myself that this is Michigan in summer—one of the best places to live during these months. But then the thought came cascading down through my brain not to get too caught up in the moment. There is still the struggle of long, gray Michigan winters that still haunt me. The winters are what made me go mad and prompted me to find asylum somewhere in a warmer clime.
So for a few days, I got to bond with my new grandson, my other grandbabies, and all four of my adult children in one of the coolest spots in all of the country on a glorious Michigan day. For that day, I could go home.
There is a bigger picture, however, and the wonderful summer and Fall of Michigan does not last beyond mid-October.
Now I’m back in Gonzales and ready to brave the Texas heat. Welcome home Fitz.