Two Pairs of Keds

"One for dress, one for everyday."


October 2017


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.


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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