This Sunday I was called back to Bridgeport for the first time since Christmas. It's Mother's Day and the church was dedicating a memorial sidewalk to my grandparents.
I haven't dealt well with their passing, and the only explanation I have is that we are such a close family and they were so much a part of my life that no matter how old they got, I was sure they would always be there.
I have intended to go back to church, despite the drive, several times. I just kept thinking about the last time I had gone to church before my grandfather's passing. My grandmother was mentioned quite often in the service; my cousins were baptizing their little girl and most of the family was there. I couldn't make it through the service without blubbering, and I REALLY hate crying in public--happy or sad tears. I mean, REALLY hate it.
I was amazed by all the improvements in the church since last July at Grandpa's funeral. There is a new kitchen, back entrance, and new floors throughout the Fellowship Hall. The fund set up in my grandparents' name helped pay for all of it. It's beautiful.
I took a deep breath and breathed in the smell of Sunday. I love the way that church smells. The smell of coffee permeates the building from the kitchen to the sanctuary. Everyone smells their Sunday best and the perfumes and colognes dance invisibly to my nose in time with the reassuring smell of the pages of the Bibles and hymnals and the wax of the candles.
First Presbyterian of Bridgeport has smelled that way for as long as I can remember and as I sat there, once again trying not to cry, I had to smile. We don't have my grandparents' house anymore. We have divided their things and each member of the family has their favorite item now in their homes to remind them. Their things are scattered hither and yon, but they, Nonnie and Grandpa, are still very much in that church. Just as they were for 60 years of their earthly lives.
They are in the songs of what we like to call "The Last Chance Choir." They are in the stained glass and the organ. You fully expect to see them waiting for you with a cup of coffee and a cookie in the Fellowship Hall between Sunday School and worship service.
I never realized how much of our history is linked to that little building. We were all baptized there. Family weddings were there. And, like it or not, funerals were there. And it will go on. And they will be there, in the bricks of the sidewalk Nonnie would be so thrilled with (no more tromping through the grass from the back door to the front), in the bulletins, in the guestbooks.
And I have to say that I hope I can get back to the smell of Sunday a little more often, so I can find what I have missed so much.