Friday, October 24, 2008

Home

This was my day yesterday: I left my sister's house at 8:30 am.  Then I had...
A car-ride: 1.5 hours
An airport wait: 1 hour
A wait on a tarmack: 1 hour
A plane trip: 1 hour, 10 minutes
An airport wait: 1 hour
A shuttle bus ride: 2.5 hours
A car ride: 3 minutes
And at 5:35 pm, I finally got home! 
It would have been faster to drive.  But perhaps not nearly as 'fun'!

I'm always so glad to get home at the end of a trip.  Whether I've been gone overnight or away for several weeks, I grow increasingly impatient as I approach our house.  Sure, the dogs will bark, jump at my face(which is a little disconcerting!) but their excitement at having part of their pack home mirrors how I feel.  Yes, there's a stack of mail to go through (our ballots arrived while I was gone, as well as two books I'd ordered from Amazon), and my bag full of dirty laundry has to be unpacked, the wash begun.  There's catching up to do with the Beve (I always miss him a lot, particularly after a grueling week with Mom). But at the end of the evening, there's a bath to be had in my very own bathtub, and my wide bed to fall into!  My own bed.  Ahhh, there's nothing like it.

A couple of days ago, I took Mom on a drive around my hometown.  We drove past all four of our residences (three rentals and one owned), and she remembered something about each one.  At the first one--which I'm pretty sure hasn't been painted since we lived there in 1965--she remembered my little sister going to a babysitter's on the next street over: "That Mrs. Pike saved my life those first few years," she said.  As we turned the corner by the second house, she said, "That was the one that had burned just before we moved in." "Yes!" I told her, surprised she recognized it--it looks a whole lot different to me! There was the house on College hill, once white with red trim, now painted a dull beige, where she remembered having broken her leg while Dad was away at his summer job, and having no one home to help with the kids.  But the house she lived in longest, the one the architect designed especially for our family (the one across the street from where Beve grew up), she looked at quizzically, and wondered why the new owner had added the high windows above the roof. 
"They've always been there," I told her, surprised that this was the house that looked most unfamiliar.
"No," she said, a little sadly. "I'd have noticed them."  That house was home for 32 years.  We moved in before it was completed, living in two bedrooms and the utility room in the basement, while the upstairs living areas were finished.  She doesn't have it firmly in her patchwork brain, but that house is the one I think of when I think of my childhood/youth.  That afternoon we drove past the school where Mom taught for most of her teaching career, past Sloan Hall on campus where Dad had his office for his entire career at WSU.  Past the swimming pools on campus where we took lessons and swam on Friday nights and Sunday afternoons.  Past the church I was raised and married in, where Dad's packed memorial service was held.  Past the high school all Mom's kids, and three of her grandchildren graduated.

Finally, after traversing the town several times, Mom said there was one more place we wanted to go.  So we drove out of town and up the hill to the city cemetary, wound around the gravel road among the tall trees and cement gravestones, and I hoped I'd find the right place.  As a teenager and college student, my friends and I used to go out there late at night, play hide-n-seek among those stones, and I always made them part next to my grandparents' memorial stones set on the ground.  So Mom and drove slowly up the road, and I finally saw the landmark I was looking for.  There's a cube-shaped stone, set up one one corner of the cube, so it looks like a dice ready to spin.  When I saw that, I knew we were close.  We stopped the car, and I began looking for my grandparents plots.  Then, there they were, side-by-side, my 'Chief', as we called Mom's dad, and Grandmom.  I yelled at Mom, and she came over and knelt beside her father's stone, carefully wiping the fallen leaves from its face.  Then she traced the words on her mother's, patting them slowly. I looked out across the fields toward town, thinking it a funny thing that this was the final home for their ashes.  Just their ashes lay there, not their true selves.  They'd long since made the final trip home, Chief in 1972, Grandmom in 1986.  My grandparents looked homeward toward heaven my whole life--and their heaven-looking selves is part of the reason I look home to Him as well.

It was a good afternoon, seeing the old places in my hometown, reminding Mom of a past that is fading from her brain.  But as true as those places are, as shaping as they've been in my life, they are as empty as the graveyard for me now.  I no longer live there, it's only my shell that has connection.  For me, home is here--in this house, with this Beve, with this family.  And even this is merely temporary.  All the time, I'm pressing onward, upward.  Awaiting my true Home.

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