Every once in a while a new experience comes along that has the effect of making a very different way of looking at our lives.
Bringing forth four sons, living with them thru a tumultuous twenty five years or so, surviving the ups and downs of daily life as they grew and wrestled each other for their place in the family order is something that is not for the faint hearted. I can proudly report that I did survive it.
When the last one to leave rode off into the sunset I didn’t waste too much time or breath missing the constant uproar that had been going on for the past quarter of a century. Wives came along, and then grandchildren, and a whole new style of family living. Everyone ended up with a chance to make their fortune on their own. We knew what each other was doing, roughly speaking, but their lives were their own to make.
Time went by. We often lived in the same towns, like Cortez, CO, Lawton, OK, Holton, MI, even Wyoming and Montana, but we didn’t stay in each others houses overnite. We had our own homes and our own spaces.
We are wintering in Florida in a retirement community, and guess what. Son #3 and wife are arriving for nine days! We are all excited, hoping for warm weather. I begin to plan things, and then I realize. I haven’t lived in the same house with #3 son in over 35 years! I don’t know what he really is like on a day to day basis! What does he like to eat, what kind of TV does he watch? What are his every day habits?
For twenty years I took care of him, knew him as well as anyone in my life, and now a relative stranger is coming for nine days. How is it going to work out?
Wednesday noon. I hear a car door close, then another, and they are here! Looking as great as they always do, smiling and hugging, and it is like the years have all flown away and we have our children back again.
There are some obvious differences. I notice that now they tend to take care of us, instead of the other way around. As they are showing us new pictures of their life I realize anew that they are grandparents also, and in the prime of their lives. They have their own friends and their own business interests. Their lives are full and I am so proud of them.
I finally realize. They are grown up. They don’t just need us but want us also.
The days fly by and all too soon the alarm rings at 2AM, and off they must go to the airport. And we return to our quieter life, thankful that we have had a great time renewing our friendship with our children. We can rest assured that we did our job and they are part of the living proof of it.
Whenever I sit down and begin to get quiet, it seems like there is always something that comes popping into my mind, shattering the notion that I have this quiet space where I can retreat to, leaving me with the notion that there is something left undone. Something that if only I could focus on it I could solve all of my hassles, make things fit together in a way that makes sense, giving me the feeling that by resting my thoughts I can rest my mind and body.
And so this morning I am thinking about an e-mail from a friend in Michigan asking when am I coming home? Home? Where is home? Is it in Michigan where I live 7 months of the year, on a fruit farm, where I feel at home as I am surrounded by beautiful orchards, old friends occasionally, scattered relatives? Or is it here in Florida, where I am surrounded by new friends? In Michigan I am connected to my friends and relatives by the wonder of the internet, and e-mails, but that is even more true here in Florida. Wherever I go I am connected by thoughts of love and friendship.
When I am at my Creative writers group, I say I need to go home now. Yet when I am visiting someone in Michigan, I leave them to go home to the farm. It is all a question of semantics, I have come to believe. When I lived in Colorado, that was home. When a woman marries, she changes her name usually, and she also changes her home.
So there is only one way to look at it. No matter where we are, no matter what state we currently reside in, no matter how long we are there, Home is where the heart is at the current time. I feel very fortunate that there have been so many places in my life where the heart truly was. And still is, I must add. The memories are a gift from God.
Looking at spring blossoms today with a blustery winter storm going on in Michigan is probably pretty disgusting to the people that are busy surviving the typical Febuary storms. When I go on Facebook or Twitter and see the pictures I wince, and hope that all of my friends and family are safe. I try not to brag about our beautiful weather here in Florida because I still remember what it is like to live in the north in the winter. Visions of all of the clothes that we piled on, the extra scarves and the fur lined boots if we were lucky still fill my memories. I am remembering all of the wet mittens, coats, hats and scarves draped all over the registers, and the smell of them as they dried. When my kids were young we used bread wrappers both in and out of the boots trying to keep them from leaking. It was difficult to get things dried before it was time to go outside again.
And yet we did go outside. And when we didn’t have to go to school we loved playing outdoors. Snowmen decorated our yard and we made forts out of the many snow balls that we rolled into larger spheres. We made them large enough so we could even stand in the fort, and we covered the tops with branches or blankets. Then we would call the fort our club, and have meetings. Sometimes our mothers would give us cookies to have a picnic.
We went sliding, and ice skating. My dad would use a hose and make a pond for us in our back yard early in the winter and we would have all the neighborhood kids over for a great time. There was usually an ice pond at our neighborhood school but we had to walk about 6 blocks to it. Some of my cousins had a long steep hill right behind their house and we would go there on Sundays after church.
It was a long time ago, and it was a simpler time. Thinking about it now makes me realize just how much things have changed. I rarely see children playing outside just for the sheer joy of it as we always did. My mother never called me in until it was almost dark in the summertime. We didn’t own a lot of equipment, we were really lucky if we had a bike. Most of us had wagons tho, which we had plenty of use for.
This has turned into a look backward into time, and for a lot of us that is probably a good thing. We have a lot to be grateful for, the memories of a simpler childhood, playing outdoors, very little organized events of any kind, other than school, Sunday school, and church, but we sure had a lot of fun playing outdoors.
As the Beatles would sing, “Those were the days, my friends, those were the days.”
Sitting here in the warm Florida sunshine,
Listening to the hum of a distant airplane,
Immersed in the coolness of a springtime breeze,
Watching the rainbow spinner turning in every direction,
Hearing the quacking of the mallards walking down the street,
Smelling the citrus trees in bloom all about me,
Is it possible I am in heaven and don’t even know it?
Neighbors float by occasionally in their brightly colored golf carts,
A husband and wife go walking by arm in arm,
The flowers are blooming at their most brilliant best,
And I am sitting here in my front yard watching, listening, smelling and smiling at all of it.
It is such a beautiful day!
Is it possible I am in heaven already?
Walking thru my quiet house on an early winter morning,
I am on my way to my place of sanctuary,
my warm and comfortable chair.
Thru the dimly lit kitchen I pass,
Stopping only to pour the water for coffee,
Waiting for the hot brew to emerge,
picking out my favorite cup for today.
On to the inviting room where my chair awaits me,
Books and journals piled high on the table beside it.
I sink into the chair, cover my lap with a blanket,
Close my eyes, and I am home.
Later I will study a daily lesson,
Write in my journal, read a special book,
Make a list of “to do” things for today,
But now, right now, I relax and know
who and where and why I am,
safe with my Constant Companion.
Outside of this room storms may be blowing,
Memories of old anxieties may prevail,
Duties and responsibilities may clamor for attention.
I may have to plan for tomorrow.
But here in my chair, I am safe, I am blessed.
No fears need dominate my mind and thoughts,
I close my eyes, and the loving Presence envelops me.
I know that I am where I belong,
safe in my favorite chair, safe in the Presence,
safe in the arms of my Constant Companion!