In 2007, I went on a quest. I travelled to Florida, where I was born. Mostly, it was to visit my dad’s sister, Ann, who had been recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. It was , by far, the best trip I have ever taken.
I flew into Tampa International airport. I rented a car, a GPS, and I was on my way!!! I set the GPS to the address of the street where I lived as a child until age four. Of course, everything is smaller , the older we get. The house looked nothing like I remember. I recall a larger yard , and a longer driveway. Gone were all the lilies and pear trees that I remembered that lined the driveway and the entrance walk. The house had not been taken care of, and it was obvious. I went around the neighborhood to search for my grandparents house. It was only a few blocks away. It was really nothing like I remember. The house had been painted pink, and it was not lived in for quite some time. I still could see all the azaleas that were around the yard. And also, the big tree that in which my Papa had put up a rope swing. The swing was long gone, but, the memories remained. I would sit on the swing, and Papa would bring me a tangelo or navel orange. He would cut out the top with a pocket knife, and I had instant orange juice!! As a child, I remember how beautiful the yard was. By far, the most beautiful in the neighborhood. They had St Augustine grass, which was thick and plush. Perfect for picnics.
Picnic at Nana and Papas
Nana and Papas House
After visiting the old neighborhood, I was on my way to Myrtle Hill cemetery. I was looking for the graves of my great grandmother, Alice Lindell Davidson Pickens. I only knew she was buried there, along with her son, James Harvey Pickens. More on that story later. It was a large cemetery, the north side looked very old, the south side, newer. I chose the older. After walking and driving through the paths, I got close to the mausoleum. I had never been there before, my parents later verified this. But, it seemed strangely familiar. I never found the headstones. Although, I would later find, I was as close as I could have been to them. Something took me to that spot. Later, after I got back home, I put a request on Findagrave . A gentleman volunteered to find the headstones of both family members. He sent me the location of Alice Pickens, I was only a few feet away. I had asked my parents if Nana had ever taken me to the cemetery, she said, ” she would never have taken you there.” Well, an eerie feeling came over me, because I had at some point seen everything I saw that day. I moved from Tampa at age four, never having visited that cemetery until 2007.
Alice Lindell Davidson Pickens headstone, Myrtle Hill cemetery