August 11th, 1980
Sitting in the Ozark airlines waiting area of the St. Louis airport. Another half hour before my flight to Washington. My anxieties about returning to Missouri have been transformed into a deep sense of nostalgia for these people, their lives, and the world that formed me.
Throughout the weekend members of my family came by Grandma’s to visit. I am moved by the enormous sense of love I feel for them. Plain, honest people with no pretensions or imagination. Possessed by an unfailing sense of devotions and support for one another. They are a strong family and I am touched by their unspoken gestures of love for me– Lawrence’s orphan, the renegade, the one who moved away. Grandma’s utter adoration for me is astounding. There is a frailty, a tiredness about her that I have not seen before. Her eyes seem never far from tears. She seems always to be pondering some mortal sadness– some huge sorrow. She is, I think, saying goodbye daily to her life. I left her standing in the door, her body heaving in tears, weeping and waving her hand pitifully is gestures of a little child– her thick veined hand flapping like a wounded bird.
The demons I had feared this weekend did not exist. I looked for them, I waited for them. They have ceased to exist. In their absence I found skinny, lost little boys.
It seems like such an obvious thought, and yet it has carried the weight of a revelation for me this weekend. This is where I came from, this is the material from which I am made. And yet my flight from Missouri when I was 19 was wrought in such trauma and terror of my father that I shed all sense of identity with THEM– I have spent my life trying to define myself in opposite terms to THEM. THEY, and Springfield, MO., represented all that threatened my life– my existence. This weekend I have realized that I can never alter the fact that this what I am made of. This genetic and cultural fabric is inexorably me. This is my flesh and blood. Regardless of where I transplant myself, I will be a Missourian until the day I die. Any understanding or self analysis is incomplete that does not include this background.