[Blogger’s Note: If you haven’t already done so, please read my Who Am I (intro) post and Part I and Part II in my Home Sweet Home series prior to reading this post.]
“There’s nothing half so pleasant as coming home again.” ~ Margaret Elizabeth Sangster
The circumstances that brought my family back to my homeland were extraordinary. I plan to write about those circumstances later — please look for that post, it will be titled Leap of Faith.
It absolutely seemed too good to actually be true. My family was moving back across the country to my husband’s and my home state, more specifically, my home town. Our house was sold, unnecessary belongings purged or unloaded at a garage sale, and the remaining furniture and household goods packed once again onto a moving van.
Our cross-country journey was about to commence. Two parents, each driving a car, with three kids divided between us, traveled five days to finally arrive back home. As each day drew us closer, I longed to view my home.
“Home, the spot of earth supremely blest, a dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest.” ~ Robert Montgomery
I must describe home to you so you can understand what it meant to me. The house that I called my home was the house in which my parents lived. It’s not remarkable as far as houses go. It’s a very old, simple two-story white frame house sitting on almost four acres of beautiful green expanse which my father tended faithfully and turned into a lush carpet worthy of golf course status. There are maple and apple trees, a grapevine, and my mother nurtured an abundant vegetable garden and beautiful flower beds. Mom took pride in her home and it was always well-decorated, well-kept and well-loved.
The remarkable aspect of my home is that it had been in our family since the year 1882 when my great-grandmother bought it from its original owner. A real estate appraiser actually found an earlier deed for the house dating back to 1870, so the original part of the house has existed for 140 years and for 128 of those, it belonged to my family.
My father was born in that house. When his mother passed away, my father purchased the house and moved my mother’s parents there to live. So both sets of my grandparents resided in that house at different times. When my mother’s parents needed care, my parents, along with my middle sister and me, moved into the house with them.
From the time I was seven, that house was my home. My childhood memories are enmeshed with it. I lovingly remember my grandparents living with us, even though I was only nine the year they both passed away. I remember smelling the aroma of freshly baked bread when I came home from school and freshly baked cookies and pies when I came home from college for Christmas vacation. I remember lying in bed on summer nights before air-conditioning and the smell of freshly cut grass wafting through my open windows. I remember the crunchy sound and nutty odor of fall leaves as I walked to the school bus stop.
I remember shivering in the summer evening coolness while conversing with my mother on the front porch swing. I remember the time it snowed so much, we couldn’t open the door; my father had to nudge it open an inch or two at a time, brushing away snow with a broom, before we could get out of the house. I remember leaving home for college, and leaving again to live in my first apartment, and again when I married my true love.
I remember bringing my first-born home from the hospital to this house while her daddy was stationed in the military on the other side of the world. I remember all three of my children being happy and excited to travel “home” to Grandma and Grandpa’s house during all those years we lived far away.
Some of the most treasured moments of my life occurred in that simple, white frame house. To me, that house signified warmth, comfort, family and love.
Wikipedia.com relates other thoughts about home: “Since it can be said that humans are generally creatures of habit, the state of a person’s home has been known to physiologically influence their behavior, emotions, and overall mental health. Some people may become homesick when they leave their home over an extended period of time. Sometimes homesickness can cause a person to feel actual symptoms of illness. It has been argued that psychologically the strongest sense of home commonly coincides geographically with a dwelling. Usually the sense of home attenuates as one moves away from that point, but it does not do so in a fixed or regular way.”
For all those years I lived away from home, I evidently was homesick, and no matter how many years passed, those feelings remained.
“You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world, but a world lives in you.” ~ Frederick Buechner
The world that lived in me was centered around home. Coming back there to live meant the world to me, even though we would face trials and difficulties. In the first eight months of living there, we lost both my mother-in-law and my mother. We searched for a home to call our own, and a year and a half after we moved there, we finally purchased a farmer’s field on which to construct our own house.
At last, I thought, we’re going to own our own home at home!
(Please come back tomorrow for the final installment of my Home Sweet Home series.)