I often hear my friends talk about going “home” for visits and holidays. I know that they mean going to their parent’s homes, maybe their grandparent’s, or to other relatives that live in their home towns. Hearing that has always gnawed at me, mostly because I was jealous. I haven’t had a “home” to go to since 1992. It was that year that my father passed away and our farmstead was sold. The new owners tore down our home and brought in a brand new one for their family to live and make memories in. Good for them, sad for us.
My mother moved to Grand Forks after my dad died, into a jewel of a house that suited her perfectly. It was nice, but it certainly wasn’t home. Home was the farm. Home was the basketball hoop on the big quonset. Home was the kitchen where my mother cooked countless meals and we sat around the table, always in the same seats. Home was the long telephone cord that reached out on to the front porch so I could sit and talk in “private” for hours and hours. Home was the steep wooden back basement steps that formed my very first memory when I fell down them when I was around two years old. Home was the unique design that gave the house two unconnected upper levels. Home was the big console stereo and television and books and records. Home was the radio that my mom had that got television stations on it so I could listen to my soap operas while I suntanned in the yard. Home was my dad’s coveralls and boots, fresh Christmas trees with old-fashioned lights, my mom’s beautiful taste in decorating, one bathroom with no shower, hot tea in the winter and iced tea in the summer.
I left that home when I was 18, but I felt secure in knowing that home was there if I ever needed it. My sisters would “come home” for holidays and other special occasions. My nieces and nephews came there as babies and experienced what life was like on the farm. I have been able to show my boys pictures of “home” and we have driven by the farmstead many times, but they will never see the house I grew up in or play in the tree house I built in the woods behind our house. They will never walk with me down the half-mile driveway and see the culvert that my best friend and I played in with our Barbies.
When our farmstead was sold, over a 100 years of family memories were either auctioned off, thrown away, divvied up, or moved to my mother’s new house. Recently, my mother has moved once again, this time to a small apartment in an assisted living facility. Fortunately, we were able to move quite a bit of her own furniture and belongings to her new place. However, while Mom’s previous residence eventually felt like home to her, but not to my siblings and I, this move feels like home to no one, especially Mom. This move was necessary, but unwanted. Soon Mom’s house will be sold, and once again we have downsized our family memories. Things that I had forgotten even existed sparked feelings so strong when I found them that it actually hurt my heart. I brought some of these things to MY home, the home I have shared with my own beautiful family since 2006. The home that my sons “come home” to, even though they are independent and out on their own. The home that I hope and pray that future daughters-in-law and grandchildren will “come home” to. I will tell them about my original home and I will continue to incorporate memories and traditions from the farm for all future generations to carry on.
I may not be able to “go home” ever again, but I am secure in the knowledge that I have a created a place for my boys to “come home” to. I am truly blessed.