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I didn’t go anywhere exotic, just to the place where I grew up, so when I finally arrived “home,” I drove past an old house on a shady lane in a small town in the country. I went by the church that I went to every Sunday and past the houses of neighbors whom have long since died. When I got to my parent’s house, it was the first time in my life that I couldn’t walk in the front door. Someone else lives there now.
Nothing in my parent’s house ever changed. Elsewhere, the world seems to spin at break-neck speed, years flying by, children growing up in a minute, but when I walked into my childhood home, I could see that time does stand still. There would be all the familiar furniture in the living room, to the paintings that grace the walls, the grandfather clock would chime the same tune, and the kitchen might have the aroma of something delicious just baked.
When I would visit my mother, I would stay in my bedroom, and it was as though I never left. A busy, flowered, patterned wallpaper danced around the room with white lace curtains at the window. The same blue bedspread — sprinkled with small white flowers and a ruffled hem — always reminded me that sometimes “old’ things are as good as new. A small jewelry box on a nightstand held my charm bracelet and a photo of me at age sixteen, proof that at one time, this place was the center of my universe.
My mother moved to assisted living last year, and the house was sold. With it, a lifetime of memories. Yes, the house was tired, needed work, was too much for my mother to manage since my father died, so with failing health and a heavy heart, she had decided to leave the place she had lived for sixty-six years. When I go to visit her at her new “house,” it is a fancy place with beautiful décor, fireplaces and fountains, a dining room with white table cloths, but not exactly home.
As my mother likes to say, “Life changes, and we better change with it. Get with the program. Keep going forward. Be happy. Trust God” And so it goes.
At 95 she still has lessons to teach and things to learn. She likes to look on Facebook every day to keep up with the grandkids. She asks me to email her some of my recipes, so she can pass them on to the cook (who my mother has in private training). She sometimes sends me a text.
What did I pack for a trip back in time? Too much.
Going home requires checked luggage and plenty of space for gifts, photos, recipes and a secret stash of memories. Sometimes we can’t always go back to the house of our youth, but we can always go home.
Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local Realtor. Have a story or a comment? Send email to [email protected]