My Geography Lesson
My dad’s death freed me to end a troubled marriage. My dad had predicted I wouldn’t be happy in my marriage and I didn’t want to let him know he was right.
After he passed away, I saved all my vacation time to be with my widowed mom. I was protective of her, wanting to shield her from his loss. I spent 10 days or more each winter visiting my mom who escaped the cold and snow with her over-the-hill gang in a rented home in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. Those visits forged an ever-closer bond with my mom who cast a large shadow over my life. She was a complicated woman and so am I. We understood one another. After all, she was the first one to cradle and protect me. She always reminded me of my roots. I was born deep in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State in the Village of Saranac Lake. I’ve wondered when I first became aware that my hometown was surrounded by mountains and lakes. It’s as if that knowledge was part of my DNA unlike knowing my father was a funeral director. That I had to learn. Both things marked me deeply.
I married too young at 18 and divorced at 42. Rewards and blessings came out of that troubled, difficult marriage. Two sons and two daughters. A move to North Dakota when I was 28 opened the opportunity to complete a college education and have a successful career in journalism and public relations. Agriculture and the flat prairie land became magnificent obsessions in my life. I grew roots deeper than six-foot-deep sugar beets. Something about that flat, open land and farming expanded my vision, life’s possibilities.
Today, I live far from my childhood roots in New York and where I spent my adult career in the Midwest. I still look for mountain ranges. I still look for prairies. Both inspire me and my writing in different ways. In my youth, I was surrounded the comforting arms of mountains. In my early adult years, I was given the latitude to grow and test myself with an abundance of wide-open spaces. Now, I relish the calming rolling waves, the beach I should walk on more often and the warm days. It has a hypotic effect that soothes and calms. All these places united bring me moments of comfort, growth and calm. It's clear to me
that geography imprints on your soul and shapes who you become as surely as any other life experience. I’m ever grateful.