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Two Pairs of Keds

"One for dress, one for everyday."

It’s kick off. And students are the MVPs.

When I left my church job, oh, over seven years ago, my next job was at a bank.

It’s a great bank. In fact, I recommend it. It has community spirit, a proud place in the city of Ann Arbor, has won several banking awards, and continues to post some of the most creative advertising, particularly for a bank, that I’ve ever seen. If you know me, you’ll understand that creativity ranks highly in my book.

Yes, Bank of Ann Arbor and its world-class employees were an excellent transition away from a 13-year career serving the Lord and his children. Until I missed students.

Maybe it’s because so many adults I meet think we’re finished. Our old days were the best. We’re set in our beliefs and values. I’ll be having a conversation with someone in their forties, fifties, or older, and I realize that they’re concretely complete; they don’t think they have anything to learn and they’re not all that interested in anyone else’s story, either. Their thoughts are frozen solid, a closed play book.

This is not so with students. Students quest. They strive. They struggle daily in the trenches. I was recently a student and the whiplash of going back tostudent etymology the role of “learner” hit me hard.

If you look at the etymology of student,
you will find this:

It’s true. To be a student, one has to apply oneself. It is a painstaking application of study, acquisition, and assimilation.

Practically skipping with happiness, I went back to work with students at the University of Michigan. I work with students (almost daily) and for students (daily). Here’s what I want you to know.

If you are calling them “snowflakes,” if you think they are nothing but indoctrinated liberals enslaved to the institution, if you think they only think shallow “hipster” thoughts, you are missing out. Indeed, you are missing them entirely.

The first students I met were already employees of the program and they basically trained me. They cheerfully supported the changes I made at the front desk without demur. Later, I learned from Amanda that I had completely ripped out the previous system. Yet, to a student, they supported me with no complaint.

I work annually with resident advisors (RAs). This is a job like none other. Parents send  freshman off to dorms without compunction. Dorms. In the fall. With Rush. And football. And roommate drama. RAs earn free room and board for the delight of not only mentoring your students, but often cleaning up after them, literally, while planning trips to see a movie, go skating, and take in a game with dozens of your little darlings. And they do it with conversational and group-building skills that will serve them well in the “adult” corporate world.

I meet students that write theses on topics I can’t even spell. They talk to me, discussing labs and research. No idea, though I do a really good head-nod.

Students stay on campus to be peer mentors to your students during Orientation, a process that exudes stress. Every student faces first-year challenges, but every day the questions are the same. Will I get all the classes I want? (Maybe, but you might have one on Friday morning at 8:30a.) Will I be able to graduate on time? (Yes, most likely.) What is the ROI on my degree? (Basically, what you put into it.) Does anyone here care about me? They do.

They are knights-errant: sleep-deprived, physically and figuratively hungry,  impassioned, sometimes homesick, creative, smart, and caring.

They care deeply about the country, the planet, and about their fellow humans. I am a course creator for #honoline, an 8-module summer series on digital citizenship. In the two years this course has been offered, the dialogue surrounding extremely controversial topics has been respectful, considerate and well-informed. How’s your personal Facebook or Twitter feed going?

The students I meet go on to do crazy, barrier-breaking things. I can’t count the number of students I know in medical, dental, PA, pharmaceutical, and ophthalmology programs. I know Chemistry PhD candidates (a class I failed abysmally, so it’s my definition of impossible). I know a PhD student studying the effects of police presence in school systems. I know an Elle writer and contributor. And a daytime Emmy winner who worked for Dr. Oz while completing his medical degree and studying at a culinary institute in NYC. There are so many, I can’t do them all justice; Daniel, you travel-crazy thing, working for Hand-in-Hand; Alex, you Fulbright winner; Colin, good luck working in Rwanda; Gabe, keep mapping – you’ll be an amazing professor. Jesse, if ever we needed an environmental economist, it’s now. Heather, have a great second year with Teach for America in Detroit. And there are several lawyers, including Mallory and Lauren, if you need a good one.

Oh, and they’re out there, on the street, with more major student debt than any one of us ever imagined with interest rates that rival crappy credit cards. That our country has allowed the government to administer the postsecondary loans and grants program, when it is cannot balance its own budget, is yet another hurdle that they willingly leap to achieve their goals.

I’m geared up for Kickoff. I’m tired of reading posts about the “good old days,” when we were recovering from wars (aren’t we always?), hiding from Soviet missiles under desks, building cold war shelters, hanging black men for looking at white women, and impeaching President Nixon. These are the good old days and these people are on the field, ready to kick off. They are our bright future. No, they’re not perfect, but neither were we. Can I get a wave?

Pictured: One of the first students I met and with whom I worked, Mary, who is now learning German and studying as an History MA candidate in Berlin.

 

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Simple Abundance

I sit outside.

I take deep, conscious breaths.

I listen for the sound of windchimes.

Simple little things. Though I had a lovely night with friends and a good laugh, the next day brought reminders and responsibilities. It’s coming up on a year since my mom’s death. It’s been three months since Shirley’s. My favorite cat is missing, presumably gone for good, although we’re going to flyer the neighborhood tomorrow.

It’s been a year of heavy losses. Yet, there is also good. It’s there…even when it’s slightly out of sight.

Simple. What can I do, simply, to be in the moment and have gratitude?

Oh, thank you, God, for gardens. And for the same dear friends earlier mentioned, who bestowed upon me a veritable farmer’s market of vegetables. On my kitchen counter sit squash, zucchini, green and yellow beans, cucumbers.0805181626

I have a meeting here on Tuesday. Overwhelmed by work and my own introspection, at first I thought to dodge feeding them by staging a potluck. But really, I have food to feed an army. I love to cook for people. What to do? What to do?

These days, I’ve taken to keeping an entertaining record, a curtsy to those housekeepers of yore who kept records of dates, guests, menus, preferences, successes. A spring party. Dinner for my uncle and his partner. Anne’s graduation barbeque. Armed with my trusty notebook, I write out my simple plan: an all-garden dinner.

Menu:

~Pickled green & yellow beans.
~Zucchini casserole with eggs & mozzarella.
~Baked zucchini spears with parmesean.
~Cucumber & tomato salad.

I make a note:

~Ready-bake chocolate chip cookies. No one cares if anything with chocolate is homemade.

It feels useful, a careful consideration of bounty. Breathing in. Giving thanks for simple abundance.

 

Space Check

All these years later, I know the triggers. I just didn’t expect to feel their impending impact at Brighton MJR Theater with nine friends.

We went to see Ocean’s Eight, which I recommend. Like Ocean’s Eleven, each featured performer is a gemstone. The sparkles of humor are terrific and the sequencing is quite nice. For a $5 movie night, you can’t beat it. Smuggle in some mini wine bottles and kick up your feet. (Little puns intended.)

But when we arrived, a man was already sitting in one of our ticketed seats. He was probably in his early to mid seventies and he said, “You can sit anywhere!” This is not strictly true, because these are ‘luxury seats’ and are ticketed, but the theater was quite empty.

I took the seat beside him to put space between him and my daughter, and so that my friends could file in behind us. You won’t be surprised to hear he was a talker, all through the trailers. Did you see this? I don’t like that. I might want to see that, if only for the music.

Once MJR ran its PSA reminding patrons not to talk during the movie, he piped down. But he continued to speak in nonverbal ways: hands overlapping the arm rests, legs draped over the foot rest, arms stretched up over his head, legs akimbo and hands inside a hoodie pocket. He took up as much space as he could, loudly announcing his presence without saying a word.

What was this no-nonsense, assertive person doing? Practically crawling into my daughter’s lap. I leaned to the right throughout the whole show. Mentally, I played out all the scenarios. If he stepped over the line, I would castigate him in front of the entire theater and deliver him from our presence. But he really never did.

This is my own personal reaction to abuse, no matter that it happened decades ago. In my early and mid twenties, I had one man sit across from me and try to jack off through his pants in a WMU library. While living in LA, another man sat by me on a bus and proceeded to pull out his erect penis. Both times, I fled. The last time, a man jumped me from behind on the way home from a bus stop and grabbed my breasts. This time, I started swinging and swearing. He ran.

I said, when our pussy-grabbing president took office, that four years is a long time to be afraid. I do believe, whether true or not, that our Commander in Chief’s words encourage action in many people. I believe, founded or not, that we are less lawful because of his unflinching disregard for authority, expertise, basic human rights to dignity. An elderly white man, now, from my own conservative Republican community, has become a threat likely outside of proportion.

Four years is a long time to be afraid and I am not alone in wanting to dispel the fear, as witnessed by #MeToo. I cannot speak for the lingering ghosts visiting other survivors, particularly those on whom violent abuse was perpetrated. Women are becoming braver about speaking out. But, we are also in the strange realm of having to consider if we’re overreacting.

Ready to go full-on crazy, the movie ended without injury. I tried to summon up my common courtesy for people who attend movies alone and who are chatty, indicating a certain loneliness, and asked a how he enjoyed the show.

Then, I practically ran down eight friends in my rush to leave the theater. I pushed Anne in the back to get her going and when I explained myself, she said, “Mom, I know. I wanted to tell him to check his space the whole time.” And I do believe she would have.

This is the best I can hope. That, even though the fear is still there, we are raising a generation of women who continually space check and stand strong.

 

 

Chipped

I spend a lot of time trying to be better than I am. Blame it on my birth order (eldest). My zodiac (Virgo). My personality tests (Type A, Driver, blah blah). I worked hard to earn the nickname, “Perfect,” even though my mother-in-law knew I was far from it.

Recently, I took into my home a few things that were slightly damaged. As a collector of antiques, I recognize that this diminishes their value, and yet it does not. Chipped is the new “desirable” for me.

Shirley was a bit of a klutz. She was certain to drop a glass, chip a vase, burn a skillet. Don’t get me wrong. She had beautiful things. But one of her favorite lines was, “They’re just things.”

You might want to assume that she came from great wealth and had no need to hold on to material possessions. That wasn’t the case. She said she never wanted to care for them so much that the loss of them would make her angry.

She also had these signs in her home: “Life is too short to be small.” And “Because nice matters.” She wasn’t talking about a nice vase.

Do you have a stranglehold on something? Is there something you’re trying to make perfect, even though there is no perfection this side of heaven?

Consider owning and embracing the chipped, even if it’s just beautiful you.

Note: I wrote this prior to the death by suicide of the quite famous Kate Spade. This news is fresh and there are sure to be details released, but we do know that depression does not discriminate. Let me assure you that someone wants you, someone cares, and that someone will not mind your chips and imperfections.

National Suicide Hotline 1.800.273.8255  Chat: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

(Photo: Crystal vase with an incredibly beautiful chipped base.)

 

Planning for After

We are so wise. So clever. Trusts. Wills. Lists of bequeathments. Discussions on deathbeds. Sometimes, before. I’ve heard that some families with little to share have spent it all in arguments over legal settlements.

So, there’s after. What happens? What makes up for the loss?

Bill and I recently went through the Biltmore. Think of it. All that property. All the ego. The purpose and mission of one of the largest privately owned estates in the country. What leviathan plans were made?

Oh, money. I understand that there is a generational separation, that those who came before us, my parents, were the last to make more than their parents. Today, we will not make more than our parents, statistically, and will not leave our children better off. Yet, we will inherit.

In my own family, my father’s second wife decided we weren’t worth the trouble. Once the funds rolled over to her name, she kept everything, including a Victorian photo album she had promised to me. My brother received his veteran’s flag and that was all.

What do you want?

My first experience with this was after my father’s mother’s funeral. We went back to her trailer. My Aunt Phyllis told us to take whatever we wanted. People were asking for Rubbermaid, a colander, opening drawers and cupboards. My grandma was a QVC shopper in her final years and there was a stack of jewelry. I picked up a bracelet and hastily drove away from Willard with a guilty backward glance.

What do you need to remember?

Although both my parents were dead first, my husband’s parents’ home is the first dismantling of which I’ve been a part. Strangely, I worked with dispositions of trusts recently and, long ago, I worked with mortgages. I know the technical proceedings. But what about the coffee table over which my sister-in-law labored all those summers ago? The secretary in the living room? The lady’s writing desk in the master bedroom? The summer home? What keeps memories and what lets go?

I did not like the zero sum separation from my father. But I don’t know what to do with the potential acquisition of my dear mother-in-law’s things. What items are heirlooms? What will help us remember? Do we need any material things at all?

Today, in preparation for the funeral, I copied pictures for the service. I cried all through the store, framing them. At the register, I was afraid I would see someone I knew and have to explain myself. There’s a group of folks who love to chastize cell phone users for not “living in the moment” because they are taking pictures of every little thing. Let me tell you, today I was grateful for the saved image of every little thing. I did not plan them to be part of the grieving, but I would defend anyone the right to click away, although I did not take them as part of a plan.

We are so smart. So wise. We try to plan ahead. Yet, we are, in the end, unable to plan the steps we walk and the bags we pre-pack when we say goodbye.

So, here are my short-term plans. I don’t have much beyond this.

To my mom: I’m sorry that I didn’t have a chance to talk to you during your final days. It was your time and God knew when to take you. I just didn’t expect to let you go without saying goodbye. I will wear your diamond pendant – I think from your engagement ring to my dad – to the funeral this week, because I believe that you will add your blessing.

To my uncle: I wish I had better used family reunion time in the last several years. I really didn’t want to talk to all my uncles about the trials Bill and I were facing, when we got together. It always seemed that everyone’s kids were doing better, were more successful. It took the combined loss of my mom and you for me to reconnect to my roots. I will walk into this service knowing that someone, somewhere feels disconnected and needs to come home.

To my dear Perfect: Use whatever gentle spirit you have left on earth to guide our next time together as a family. Let us choose wisely what to keep, what to honor, and what to let go. We miss you beyond measure and there really is no way to plan for what comes after, except to go forward.

 

As time went by.

Written 4.30.18.

[Enjoy “The Way You Look Tonight” and “Fly Me to the Moon” while reading. Cheers.]

I met her lake-blond haired, sun-tanned son first. He used words like “groovy” and “out of sight” in the early 80s. Things were “killer” to him. He liked one of my favorite places, Sunshine Subs, a co-op in Kalamazoo, and played guitar like a pro. He was quick to anger, but he had a faster draw on his laugh. I never met someone who spent hilarity so freely. I thought it was a good idea to accept his invitation to their lake house for the 4th of July, family sight unseen. I sewed a new sun-shirt and bought a bottle of Blue Nun to give as a hostess gift. On the four-hour drive, I almost exploded with nervousness. Poor her, acting graciously over a crappy bottle of grocery store wine with a picture of piety on the label.

A year later, she worried about her son’s choice when I spent an afternoon in their home, calling neighbors to co-sign my student trust fund loan because my dad had moved out of state and my parent’s divorce was ugly. When my surfer dude was corporate-transferred to California after graduation, like heralding a sun disciple home, I called her to say that I really loved him and hoped that made it okay for us to live together.

I had improved my taste a bit by the time we got engaged, but taste without money is a sow’s ear. Good friends of hers planned a couple’s shower with boxed dinners from the country club. Realizing I was out of my element, I asked for the dress code. Those days, you couldn’t just Google “club casual.” I missed it by a few marks, but I learned.

In newly-wedded days, our arrival at the lake meant a bud vase on a bedside table, a freshly made bed, turned down. Cocktails were at the sunburnt hour of five o’clock. While the guys fished before dinner, we would do the Reader’s Digest vocabulary test together. I learned that you can bake spaghetti sauce for hours and talk people into staying from the aroma wafting from the kitchen on a late summer breeze.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard her set the dinner hour. It was always up to somebody else, even though she was most often the cook. We played Gin into the wee hours. Once, she convinced us to go skinny dipping in the dark and the way I remember it, she jumped off the dock first.

When her first granddaughter arrived, I had poured over a variety of parenting books including Dr. Spock, because I lacked any real experience with babies and have always believed in the written word. We were gutting our way through a dinner on the sun porch while letting Child #1 cry her brains out (from the “don’t give in to their temper, parents” advice). She listened more and more fretfully, like waves churning up in the wind, until she put down her utensils and said, “In my day, we didn’t let them cry like that.” I thought I would sob with relief that I could give in and go.

Until her grandchildren were grown, she would go up and say goodnight to each, initially because that first, ruler-of-the-world grandchild would queenly say, “Send grandma up.” The lake house holds sets of Mickey Mouse Golden Books and Beatrix Potter board books that were read one thousand times. We still played Gin until the wee hours. I would get to sleep in while grandchildren crawled into her bed as the sun came up over the lake. She let pancake batter get beaten by small, eager hands to the point it would not rise, frying “calm pancakes” every morning.

Her taste in kids’ clothing was perfect: motifs of sail boats and bunny rabbits, tartan plaids, even a kilt and matching sporran-purse brought back from Scotland. She and her husband were like Santa Claus on adrenaline, buying red fire trucks, rescue vehicles with flashing lights, American Girls dolls and accessories like they were an investment. One birthday, they brought my three-year-old son a Power Wheels Jeep. We have a video of her laughing while I’m yelling, “Don’t run over the bushes.”

I passed some sort of “keeper” test when I was given the real family recipe for her world-famous cheeseball. She had fobbed off some fake version a few years before, claiming she couldn’t understand why it wouldn’t work.

She knows I hate bugs, but I will still save their lives. I know she loves to have her hair brushed and her feet rubbed. She has the most beautiful skin and tans without wrinkling, even though I have never had a good tan to save my life. We both love setting a nice table. A winter or so ago, when her house lost power, she came to our heated one and we immediately went to Home Goods, a trip from which I have twelve linen napkins.

I think she should be listening to Frank in heaven; she could play the same damned CD all summer in her convertible, driving up and down M-22. I was the first person to get her to put her top down in the Sebring, but I could never teach her how to use the Bluetooth in her Lincoln. Up until a few weeks ago, I was still trying to get her to gently touch her iPad screen, instead of poking at it. I don’t think I ever saw her use a camera properly, even though she always blamed it on the technology. She threw away more directions than I have ever read, usually along with the gift wrapping.

She ruthlessly grubbed around her garden with dirty fingers, never gloves, and her flowers thrived and thrived, especially coral geraniums. This is possibly why my garden always looked stingy next to hers, as I stubbornly hold on to hand coverings and garden tools.

Her signature clothing color was a cross between sky and aqua blue, the same color as the frigid lake as I drove away. We said goodbye. We are each the best thing ever, best mother-in-law and best daughter-in-law, practically “Perfect,” which is the way she addressed my cards.

She’s seen angels, friends, family, husband, and old boyfriend, lined up in heaven. They’ve all told her it’s a “good time up there,” and so she wants to go, because she’s one of the most social people I’ve ever met and the first to enjoy a party. I hope it’s a doozie. I’ll be up, by and by, for a hand of Gin and a glass of wine, which she will hold like it’s about to spill, but it never does.

 

Security Lights

Apparently, they don’t make the security lights I once knew anymore. Back in the 1960s, if you were in any barnyard in Ohio, you’d find a security light. From dusk to dawn, this pole lamp would cast a wide swath of light across the family home, barn, and outbuildings. You usually only needed one for the main property, so bright was its glow.

You could hardly miss their presence if you were outside at night. First, there was an ever-present buzz from the filaments. And, boy, were they were bright. According to a blog site called Night Sky NM, they’re listed under “Bad Lighting” as “glare bombs.” Maybe. But as a child hunting fireflies, they would attract the desired insect while you crept around in the shadows.

More lighting talk. Tonight, while I was visiting the world’s best mother-in-law at Countryside in Jackson, she had a book light that clamped to her bedside tray. It was activated by a tap of the finger: low, medium, high. Tap. Tap. Tap. A security setting for every occasion.

On my mantle is a set of string lights, a strand fine enough to bury in decorations and behind knick-knacks. For a while they were a mystery, popping on and off at precisely the right time of day, around when we arrived home and when we went up to bed. Come to find out, one setting is a six-hour timer. Since I turned them on the first time around 5:30p, they continued to light up then and go out by 11:30p.

Within the last six months, two of my personal security lights flared out. One was my mother. The other was my mother’s youngest brother, my Uncle Chuck, whose funeral we attended today in rural, which is to say agricultural, Ohio.

If a light in your life was part of your childhood, there’s an ever-present buzz which indicates they exist, even if you are outside the orbit of their glow. Sometimes, I needed their light more than others. Tap. Light on. A phone call. Tap. Light off. I’ll talk to you later. Tap tap. I’m coming to the family reunion.  Tap tap tap. I’m lonely and I need you. I’m driving down Old State Road and passed the farmstead. I miss home.

As I got older, it was harder to reset the timer. Raising a family. Working. Volunteering. Living across multiple states. Hidden, the connecting strands were still there.

At my mother’s funeral, the words buzzed around me. I can’t recall many that were strung together, except a few of my brother’s pithier comments, but still they brought a radiant comfort. Her characteristics: steadfastness, loyalty, caring. Her talents: cooking, mentoring, caring.

Today, I clearly heard the homily regarding my uncle. Every committee he met became family. Every introduction came with a huge smile. Every task deserved excellence. Excellence equalled perfection. Family was everything and holidays were for family.

Two lights snuffed within eight months, security from my childhood, with bulbs I cannot replace.

It has not escaped my notice that new light fixtures may be hung, though “improvements” in technology have silenced the buzz, reduced the brilliance. As a generation of younger models, I am hoping that we cast the same light.

Timeless.

Why not? It’s not as if there’s some limit.

Are we so afraid of it in our culture that it’s unspeakable?

You may recall my tribute post to my momma. I said an older neighbor and friend was coming over. That, I attributed to my mother befriending people of all ages. My neighbor read or heard the post and said, “That’s me. I’m the old person.”

Well, why not? Why not have friends the age your parents might be? Why not have friends your kids’ ages, if you let them live? (Just kidding, y’all. All mine are still around.)

So much in our culture sends signals: you’re too old; you’re too young; you’re not ready; you’re overdone. It strikes me that we need more relationships that cross these divides, just as we need to know and love people of different ethnicities, religions, genders, and from different places.

How dull, if my world were reduced only to women with hot flashes and plans to make for retirement. If my only conversations were about good wine and nice restaurants, adoring them as I do. I want to hear from people who are planning weddings, forecasting careers, studying their butts off, birthing babies, posting homecoming pictures, watching soccer in the rain, shopping for colleges, taking their kids shopping for colleges, downsizing their homes, thinking about assisted living.

Too much homogeneity makes people single-minded and boring. This week, alone, I have friends who are flying off Seattle to share a book they wrote with an infertility support group, who are home nursing two-year-old twins with the flu, who are creating insurance plans during open enrollment for seniors, who are turning 23 and heading to the apple orchard, and who are adjusting to graduate life in Berlin. How I savor this knowledge.

Let me note that all these examples are about women. Yes, I’ve some male friends, but it’s the dynamic relationship with women this is about. Why should we care, sisters, if we’re older, younger, sillier, fatter, quieter, or crazier? We simply thrive in human contact, through a close connection with people who care.

This is one of my favorites this week; a much younger friend is having a “Red Tent” bridal shower. I have no idea what this means to the organizers, as I only know the bride. Sure, I read the book, but since menstruation has passed me by – and thank the good Lord for that – I can only think about the gossip, the advice, the competition, the managing of men, of husbands, of wives, of women, of children, of nomadic life that took place inside its red walls.

At first, I thought it was a terrible idea, but now I’m turning a tent corner, if it means that friendships and sisterhoods are timeless.

Friends, go meet someone far, far from your age and enjoy her.

Home.

They say, “Home is where the heart is.” My mom’s ashes came home, to Greenwich, Ohio, for interment. We’re here because we recognize this place as our family seat, the place from which we originate. But, what is home? And why do our hearts long to travel there?

Home is where we grew up, where our formative years were spent, where our family lives or once lived. Home is a picture in our minds, a scent, a feeling.

Home is fleeting. As a little girl, spending one Christmas eve in my mother’s childhood home, it was the buttery, milky broth of oyster stew, a golden, glittered bell that played a Christmas carol, and resting with grandma in the living room, she in her “electric chair,” me on the couch with the flu. And the sound of Santa’s boots on the roof…or maybe, the front porch.

Home is a place to attend family and high school reunions. My Uncle Roger and I reminisced: a family reunion was a special brand of torture, where, at best, you ate really good food and played a pickup game of softball, while your parents visited with people you didn’t even know. My mom took me to these with my dress Keds, clean white tennis shoes that were only for summer reunions. Home might be eating with people in your family tree, even if you don’t know them–everyone welcome at one table.

Home is a rhythm, a dance you know so well, you don’t have to watch your feet. Even though you haven’t been there for years, you can walk the hallways and you know the creaks in the floor. If you took me to the Sweeting family barn, I could show you around, over 40 years later. Whether or not it’s still standing, it’s there. And home is a song, on a spinet piano, where your grandma wrote the names of all the notes on the keys.

Home is the sound of a tractor, an old pickup truck, calling cows in for milking, and lowing in the barn.

Home is the sweet smell of boiling applesauce and blanching corn to put up in the freezer.

Home is every hurt you hurt in childhood. It’s every highlight of youth, played back. In the deep of night, we replay our hurts and address the wrongs. But in the broad light of day, time marches on.

You make a home, when you leave your parents’ home. It, too, has its own pace, rhythm, rhyme, and reason. But our childhood home holds a magical power.

It’s reassuring, for persons of faith, to believe that our earthly dwelling is not our final home. Where do we go, though? We try and try to sort it out – – heaven, nirvana, to be at one with the earth, to be eternal love. Frustrated, “we see dimly through a glass,” as Paul consoled the people of Corinth.

Home is a place to rest. Where people know you best. Where everybody knows your name. Where you don’t have to pretend. Where the complicated business of life and death happens. It’s where our earth-bound story comes to a close.

Many of us take comfort that we will be reunited with people from our earthly home. What happens, though, when we come home, isn’t ours to fret. Jesus promised many heavenly rooms – according to John’s Gospel – and by that, a variety of ways we may experience closure. Today, my mom came home.

~My comments at the interment of my mother, Julia Ann Poppens: 9/13/36 – 8/14/17.
~~Photo of stained glass at Ripley Church, Greenwich, OH. 

 

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