Home Is Where Your Stuff Is

12.29.2016
home-is-where

In our increasingly transient world few stay in one place for long, so I feel blessed to have grown up in one home during my formative years, and to have had it in our family for almost six decades. I must admit, however, that the older I get, the more bittersweet the trips back there become.  On the one hand, it makes me so happy to see the marshes of my hometown, the unique architecture and the trees in the squares draped in Spanish moss, but on the other, it makes me a bit melancholy to see tangible reminders that time marches on.

More and more lately, driving up my Dad’s driveway, the years melt away, and I am transported to a virtual theatre, screening scenes of the thousands of times I have climbed the slight hill leading to the door of the house where our family spent so many happy years.

My parents’ neighbors tell stories of my peering at them through the fence, telling them I couldn’t wait to turn six and go to school.  They were young marrieds at the time, and would ultimately raise six children on the other side of that fence.  Those children are all grown and gone now, with children of their own, but with so many years of stories told and problems solved while leaning on the cyclone barrier between the houses, it’s one of the first places my eyes touch on when I get out of the car.

I’m always surprised by how small my parents’ house seems, despite the huge addition my parents ironically built after my brother and I moved away.  I cannot imagine how the four of us managed in a 1000 square foot space with only a single bathroom.  I suppose time has erased the moments when it seemed crowded and inconvenient, for I can only dredge up the times of love and laughter.

I’ve lived away for over thirty years, enough time to have established my own home and family up here in what we call God’s Country. My husband and daughter probably get tired of listening to the stories I tell of Savannah as we drive down the streets of my childhood.  I am sure that they grow weary of my reminiscing, and the tears that inevitably follow, but most times they let me time-travel with few complaints.

My Mom’s been gone for four years, and these days, Dad’s rattling around a bit in the house that used to be constantly abuzz with our antics and conversations.  The old neighborhood has changed now, and with both my brother and I several hours away, we worry about him being alone there. We’re trying to start the process of having him move to a fabulously appointed retirement community.  He’s a social guy, and I know that being with other busy, active folks will do him good.  Though he’s not kicking and screaming, it’s going to take some powerful persuasion to convince him to leave the neighborhood.  I’ll most likely be the one screaming and kicking.

We’re trying to begin the monumental task of cleaning out the half-century of treasures my parents’ house has collected through the years.  At least, they seemed like treasures when they were stored away.  At the rate we’re going, by the time we can bring Dad around to the idea of moving, I will most likely have my own home stacked to the ceiling with the timeless jewels.  This trip, I’ll be bringing home my great-grandmother’s sewing machine stand, the desk from my beginner’s Sunday school class, a brass watering pot and a really cool earthen pitcher.

My husband rolls his eyes each time I return with the car loaded down, but I think he understands that I’m actually bringing home memories.  They take up a lot of space, but I’ll make room – just as my parents did before they were passed to them.

Thomas Wolfe was partly right when he said, “You can’t go home again.”  However, I’ve discovered that if your car is big enough, and your husband is patient enough – you can not only go home – you can eventually bring it all back with you.

/Susan Frampton