But the truth is, I didn’t actually live in Tennessee until I was 15 years old.
The truth is, we lived in Mississippi when I was born. I was born in Memphis because that was the closest hospital. So, I can say I’m a Tennessean, but the reality is, I got my start in Mississippi.
We lived in Senatobia, Mississippi from 1978 to 1985. I was born in 1979. Those years were exciting, unpredictable, extremely stressful, foundational, and beautiful. I have foggy memories of these times. They’re more known’s than memories: faces, smells, feelings, senses, comfort, love. Known truths, known peace, known comfort, known community, known trust, known expectations.
The ages of 0 to 5 are times we don’t always remember, but we learn so very very much.
This weekend, after 20 years, I journeyed back to that place. I went to Senatobia. I saw those faces, smelled those smells, knew those feelings and senses, felt that comfort, and embraced that love.
It was odd to be in that place as an adult, to meet those people again for the first time. Some memories came to me, distant foggy memories, but mostly the known’s flooded my senses.
So many people said to me, “you probably don’t remember me…”, but the truth is, more often than not, I did. I knew their faces. I knew them.
So many people said, “You will never know what your family meant to us”. And the truth is, I don’t. I wasn’t on their end and was too young to appreciate that.
But, what they will never know is what they meant to my family. They will never know the reverence their names have had the past 28 years in the Sanders home. They will never know the infinite impact their example's have had on our lives. They will never know the sincere and deep appreciation I have for their kindness to my parents and my sisters and me. They will never know the place they hold in my heart despite the passing of time, despite my significant youth.
I drove past our old house yesterday. I saw 4 little girls. I saw old pictures come to life. I embraced the known’s of my life.
Thank you Senatobia, Mississippi, for giving such a beautiful foundation to the foundational years of my life.
And may it not be another 20 years.