Not long ago, I had thought of going home to the area where I was born and grew up.
The farm house is gone, as are most of my relatives. Friends too, have moved away.
What’s left are country roads, small towns and the faint memories of country life. Even the one room school house is gone. What remains seems unchanged by time. Farmers are still farming, driving their tractors down the road with cars patiently or impatiently behind. There is still a corner grocery store, feed store, high school football games and drive in movies. What isn’t there is shopping malls, mega stores, traffic and noise. It is quiet, except for natures noises; birds, crickets, the wind in the trees. No one was on their phone or computer when I walked into a store or cafe. Men sat around the old hardware store talking about the local news. The “farm report’ was still on the radio. People would stop what they were doing and visit a while. No one seemed rushed or stressed. I had a strong desire to capture their serenity and some how take it with me.
Is that what “home” is, serenity? I have moved several times in my adult life, as have my relative. There is no one place we all think of as home. Yet, the peaceful feeling
of going back to a simpler life felt comforting. Familiar places and faces still brought
smiles and a desire to sit a while, reminisce on happy times together. Seeing the Fall leaves and feeling the cool, crisp air brought fun thoughts of rustling through the woods and treasuring special leaves pressed in a book. I have memories of crystal clear mornings with trees powdered with snow, icicles clinging to the roof edge. I remember how that first powdered snow laid weightless on my mitten; how making angels in the snow seemed so special. All the memories that flash back, somehow bring a sense of solace.
I visit the cemetery, remembering those who have passed on. My childhood neighbors and relatives bring back memories of community life, as well as hardships. Children that died too young, great-grandparents I only knew through stories. I stare at the
the empty land where my farm house use to be. It stood up on a hill for all to see, built by my dad and his dad. Fire destroyed it several years after my parent moved away, although the stone foundation, they also laid, was still there. That long driveway that was a run away for my sled during long Winters days, was still there too.
Memories, maybe that is what going home means. A place that is filled with laughter, good times and happy memories. Certainly there were plenty of heart aches, cold weather and hard work. But for me, home was grandma’s blankets piles on my bed during those cold winter nights. Home was grandparents, aunts and uncles, that are gone now, but it was also what didn’t change. A place I can hold in my heart and remember; people, sounds, sights and scents; all things that made me feel comfort and secure growing up. We lose that moving around, from place to place, in our adults life. We try to hold on to things that reminds us of our parents or our past; that bring memories we don’t want to lose. I don’t make that 1400 mile trek to where I grew up very often, but I do hold on to the memories when I cuddle under the blanket grandma made for me or listen to Bing Crosby sing White Christmas. Home is where our heart feels warm and fuzzy and loved.