My grandparents rarely entertained visitors. If they did, these people were members of the family, or church friends for whom they felt deep affection and trust. Thus, I felt like an honored guest whenever I stayed with them for a week or two, and my mother's old bedroom became my special place. As my grandparents entertained few visitors, it really felt like my home-away-from-home. My special place. My sacred retreat.
With the light pouring in through the window behind the bed, I could while away the afternoons reading. The bookshelves held some of the classics of western literature. These volumes had been carefully acquired over the decades, or passed down to my grandparents from their ancestors. I knew I couldn't appreciate those old stories then, but I hoped that one day I would be capable of doing so. On the walls hung paintings created by my grandfather and my uncle. On a chest of drawers sat one of my grandmother's chalk drawings I loved so much she made me a copy. The old, glossy stuffed dog on the bed felt like a member of the family. Solid wood furniture, exhibiting timeless styles, surrounded me. Treasures stored beneath the bed included art supplies, such as paint and wax.
My grandmother and I made candles one summer. During another visit, she helped me paint three pictures. One she hung on the wall beside those of my ancestors. Standing before her easel, with light pouring in from two windows, my grandmother created posters for church using pastel chalks. She often showed me her works in progress when I stayed with her. Sometimes, I just sat back on the bed and read while she drew. Or I opened the windows to the back yard, and watched her care for the flowers in her garden.
I would have given anything to have preserved that room in its ideal state, to have protected the associations it held, the artifacts that inspired me to read, write, paint, sketch, and work with wood. It offered a tangible link to my grandparents--particularly my grandmother--which was precious to me. But it is an incontestable rule of life that one cannot protect what one does not own. Time, circumstances, and people have torn that room, and all those accompanying feelings of belonging and safety, away from me. Still, I can preserve it, my home-away-from-home, in my memory. I may never be able to recreate what was lost, but I can commemorate my special place, and honor my Grandmother's impact on my life, by recreating my sacred retreat in my sketch book.
How can you best honor a place that once meant the world to you? And how might doing so prove beneficial for your life?