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.