For the better part of 40 years I lived in Northern Virginia until retirement brought me to Florida.
I love my new home and all the friends I have made over the years in Florida but my heart still misses all that is in Virginia.
What I miss most is my beautiful family. I still have two daughters living in the area, two wonderful grandchildren and many, many friends.
I also miss the beauty of Northern Virginia and all the places that I could travel to within the state that brought me such pleasure and filled my eyes with such beauty.
Living in Northern Virginia afforded me a unique opportunity to live near the nation’s capitol. I loved the museums, the theaters, places of interest and just being that close to the seat of government for my beloved country. My favorite museum is the Freer Gallery of Art. And, oh, walking the tidal basin when the Cherry Blossoms were in bloom; just breathtaking.
Right after we retired, Randy and I went on a 12,488 mile motorcycle trip around the country that was just wonderful. But, when we finally arrived back in Virginia, I was filled with such peace and happiness.
Virginia is where I found love, had three wonderful children, bought the first house I had ever lived in, watched my children grow into beautiful adults, saw two of my grandchildren born, had a great job working with children in a local elementary school and forged many wonderful friendships.
I grew up in a big city filled with concrete, buildings infested with bugs and rats, gang wars and not much hope of making much of my life. As soon as I graduated from high school I packed all my belongings in a cardboard box, boarded a Greyhound bus and bought a ticket to the District of Columbia.
There I spent some time with a girl from my hometown that had gotten a job on Capitol Hill. I lived there for a time while looking for a job. After I found a job I moved to a small but nice apartment in Virginia. I knew from that moment I would stay there.
I fell in love with the trees, the flowers, and the birds of this beautiful state. The Dogwoods of Virginia remain my very favorite tree. I watched with fascination every spring through my kitchen window when the Cardinals would return and take up residence in my backyard trees. Oh, yes, there are many birds that come to Virginia but the Cardinal will always be my favorite.
Some of my favorite places to visit were Shenandoah National Park, the Blue Ridge Mountains and Colonial Williamsburg. I loved the days Randy and I would hop on the motorcycle and ride through the mountains especially in the spring. We would ride along roads filled with S-shaped curves and as we got higher and higher stopping periodically and looking at the beautiful valley below. The mountains were filled with hickory trees, oak trees, mountain laurel, daises, rhododendrons and so much more. Once in a while we would pass a section of road where the rocks glistened with traces of small water falls from the snows melting high above signaling the beginning of a spring.
We would make our way up to one of our favorite spots called Hawksbill Summit in Shenandoah National Park, park the bike and walk a fairly strenuous path until the wooded, cool trail opened revealing a view I have forever imprinted on my heart. We would sit on the edge of the rocks looking down on the mountain sides covered in trees and be mesmerized watching hawks gliding effortlessly above the valley. The tree, mountain, valley view all took a back seat to the hawks that would catch thermals taking them higher and higher into the blue sky above. They were so beautiful. As they flew around I imagined myself as a hawk and felt such freedom; a sense of freedom that had eluded me all through my childhood.
We both love this place so much that when it came time to decide where we would spend our eternity we made the decision to have our ashes dispersed on Hawksbill Summit. Perhaps I will finally have the same wonderful feeling of freedom the hawks had as they glided around the summit.
Writing 101: A room with a view