The Dance of New Rumley Road

Angie Warren

The A-frame cabin was filled, each corner of it, with the warm and tangible aroma of roasting turkey. It was a Saturday, my uncle was in town to hunt, and we decided on a big supper. Supper in Ohio is what we call dinner in California, but usually Supper is had on a Sunday after church. It is prepared the night before, and at my grandmother’s, the table is set to perfection before bed.

This particular Saturday we decided on a Supper because there were plans for the following day, a hay ride at the little church in the country. Turkey roasted, mashed potatoes steamed, gravy simmered. I was all over the place with the kids, curating yet another nature scavenger hunt, enjoying a tea party in the playhouse, here and there and everywhere.

Each time I came into the house, I saw her in the kitchen, my grandma. I looked at the golden stream that blanketed her through the rectangular window above her sink, and I forced myself to inhale it. To breath in her presence.

To watch, if only for a moment. To remember standing in the cabin kitchen, intoxicated by the smells and textures of family, of turkey dinner, of the autumn which has brought so much heartache in years past. I offered my help, but as per usual, she declined and busied herself with the role she knew so well.

It was a dance I had watched since childhood, a beautiful waltz in which she never missed a beat. The kitchen was her ballroom, and every performance a meal.

When supper was long enjoyed, our bellies full of the food of our people, and naps taken, I became struck with a notion. Life at home, prior to our trip, for years, has been a good one. It’s been a good one and yet, I have been hurried and rushed and so focused on the next project, on a deadline, I’ve lost the art of that ballroom dance passed down to me from my mother, from her mother, and hers.

The personal journey I took of finding myself and accepting my true calling, which came to a tipping point just days before we headed back to New Rumley Road this October, was one that found me halted, in the eye of a storm. I made a choice, to walk away from the woman who took on any and every possible thing, to become the woman that invests her life and love into her family, and to her writing.

Watching my grandmother, remembering my mother, dancing the dance of homemaking, it ached inside of me, the desire to get back home, and dance it myself. So often, pre-trip, the pile of dishes, the laundry, the bedtime routine, and general discord of a house full of growing children, was a dreaded task on my to-do list of life.

More times than I’d like to count, my heart was cold and angry. I held onto so much bitterness, it bled out into every aspect of life. Oh how I wanted to get back home, and find my ballet slippers, to place them gingerly on my feet, and set about the dance floor we called home, and pour my love into it.

The dishes were piled high after that Saturday supper, they spilled out onto the small counters in that cabin kitchen, but she wouldn’t have help. I cleared the table for her, and said, "Nan, you’ll be doing dishes for an hour!", to which she smiled and replied, "Well, yeah, but it’s okay, it’s worth it."

It's worth it.

It's worth it.

It's worth it.

Those words will forever be tattooed upon my heart. It is worth it. All of it, the mess and the prep, and the time and the chaos, spilling out of every corner - for a twenty minute meal, enjoyed around an oval table. It’s all worth it.

Her heart, a servant’s heart if ever I knew one, a true Proverbs 31 woman, my grandmother. And I began to pray, that very day, for a heart change. For a heart change, because for so many years I felt refuge in disdain, in pity and grief and a great longing for something, different.

Please God, I begged, please give me the dance of my grandmother. Please give me a joy for my home and my family, like never before. And on that evening, I knew I was changed. There were days during that trip that I’d have said it was all a mistake, and between heaving sobs, begged to go home. But the truth of it is that the pain pushed me to a different space. A space of peace and acceptance, of insight and foresight.

I was then filled with a warmth and light like never before, I was prepared to go home and give this life and my family, my every bit. I will forever be so breathtakingly grateful for the gift of New Rumley Road.