Home Sweet Home, Part III

pexels-photo-259583.jpeg [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.)

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

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Life might be a highway, but I travel down memory lane

blogvacation3If life is a highway, and according to Rascal Flatts it is, then today I took a trip backwards down memory lane.

Someone once said, “A moment lasts all of a second, but the memory lives on forever.”

I would have to agree with that quote as today I visited a place where so many memories entrenched in the recesses of my mind sprang back to life.   After church, hubby and I decided to follow a ribbon of highway and see where it led us.

We traveled to the north country, where it’s even more rural than our area and the woods are thick and cool.  A distinct woodsy smell permeates the air there, a smell I can’t describe in words, but my mind identifies and remembers.

Our travels transported us down a narrow country lane where many of my childhood days transpired.   From the time I was about 10 until just a few years ago,  my parents owned a “camp” on a wooded lot near a national forest that runs through our state.  Our family spent many weekends there and sometimes a week at a time in the summers.  Relatives owned the camp next door and our families celebrated lively and entertaining times together.

When I was a child I reveled in this “home away from home,” but later in my teen-age years, the lure of Friday night high school football games, school dances, and going out with friends overshadowed my enthusiasm for going to camp for the weekend.

Today though as hubby and I drove down that familiar country road, I regaled tales to him about those forever memories, my memories, of camp.

See, right here was where girlhood friends and I would sit on a wooden plank bridge dreaming of our futures and giggling about cute boys while we competed to see who could hurl stones farther  into the creek and make the biggest splash.   The wooden plank bridge is long gone,  but the memory lives on.

And right there in that thick of woods was a lane that invitingly enticed us to follow until we arrived at a wider stretch of the creek, babbling on its merry way.  There were huge rocks that we would climb and sun ourselves on and then when it became too hot in the afternoon sun, we’d shirk our socks and Keds and wade into the cold, rushing water.  The lane is gone, a very faint path remains, but the memory lives on.

And there!  That was the old farm where the owner granted us permission to climb up into his old tree house nestled in a stately oak tree.   As we were ascending up the rickety ladder, a swarm of bees descended on us like a plague and we ran screaming and swatting the air as we flew like lightning out of there.   All four of us were stung and crying like crazy.  The farm looks abandoned now, the treehouse surely destroyed, but the memory lives on.

And right here at this house, where our playmate/local girl  lived all year round, is where we sought comfort from our bee stings.  Her mother soothed those nasty bee bites with Listerine mouthwash.  And back we ventured to explore some more, but never to that treehouse again!  The house remains, but looks quite different now and somehow smaller, but the memory lives on.

Oh, these fields are where my girlfriend and I rode, trotting and cantering, her ponies, Bonnie and Blondie.   We pretended we were cowgirls blazing trails on our trusty steeds and right there stood the barn where we would unsaddle the ponies and give them hay to eat.  No signs of the barn remain, but the memory lives on.

Someone I know now owns our old camp, so I didn’t feel like we were trespassing when we parked our car in the driveway and walked around the yard.  Back in my childhood days, the remnants of coal strip mining were behind the camp.  My friends and I enacted numerous pretend adventures on those mounds of shale.  One day we were desert explorers, desperate to find water.  Another time we were treasure hunters.   The no longer visible mounds are covered over with dense underbrush and trees now, but the memory lives on.

Hubby and I continued weaving around the country roads noticing changes here and there.  We stopped at what once was an old country general store, where I loved to go with my parents and pick penny candy out of a large candy counter.  Today it is an antique gift shop/post office but as soon as I walked inside I noticed the wooden plank floor.   Still the same floor, the lady behind the counter assured me.   Not the same store, but the memory lives on.

We traveled on to a nearby state park and then veered off to a different route back home,  stopping to view some lovely sights along the way including this one below.

Our meandering occupied our entire afternoon and our journey was complete  when we stopped for an ice cream dinner.  Yep, when you live in the empty nest and you don’t have to cook for the family, you can eat banana splits and grasshopper sundaes for dinner!

This day was filled with memories, but on our way back home, another thought became apparent to me.  Today hubby and I constructed more enjoyable memories together.

“Memory is a way of holding on to the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose.” ~Anonymous

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com