Brandy Hall had been the home of my childhood, but with Mum and Daís passing childhood was lost, and it no longer felt like home though I spent nine more years there. Even so, it was a warm, busy place. The food was plentiful and one never lacked for company, whether or not one wanted it. In truth, for me, that in and of itself was at times a hardship. I didnít want company at first. I wanted to be left alone, and then over time it became a habit. Having been gone from there for 12 years now, I realize I did not properly appreciate it while I was there.
Watching the goings on at Brandy Hall, I became sharply aware of the importance of families. For hobbits, growing a family is even more important than growing crops. In Uncle Bilboís home, where I found myself increasingly more comfortable with every visit, the stories involved dwarves, dragons, treasure and the like. The stories shared in most hobbit homes are all about whoís related to whom. Hours are spent recounting the relations and their life stories, going back for hundreds of years.
With my parents passing on, I was a bit of a problem, not that I caused a lot of trouble, well no more than typical anyway. But when it came to telling stories no one would talk about my parents. Iíve since come to understand that they were trying to spare me, that or they knew not what to say. They didnít want me to feel uncomfortable or to stir sad memories so the subject was avoided all together when I was present, which made for some awkward silences. I wasnít old enough to know how to ease the discomfort. Relatives did try to keep an eye on me but they were always so busy trying to keep up with their own children that I found myself seemingly raising myself.
I was a bit mystified by the cousins close to my age and their practice of teasing and harassing their younger brothers and sisters. Werenít they grateful they had them? And so I found myself defending my younger cousins on a regular basis. I had the niggling feeling that I wanted somehow to protect them. So began my friendships with the likes of Merry and Pippin. Perhaps thatís part of the reason we get on so well now, despite the age differences.
Uncle Bilboís traveling song is in this book somewhere. Now, why did I think of that? Wait, is that humming? And the creaking of a horse-drawn cart? ďThe road goes ever on and on, down to the door where it began....Ē A beloved and familiar voice...