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Today my mind flits between two homes.  Neither are mine.

The first, of course, is here in Brazosport.  Spending time amongst familiar surroundings and faces is always good.  Yet, there is something about returning to a place that makes one feel as if they are returning to life from the grave.   It’s a bit chilling to think this way, but I’m not the only one to have these thoughts.  In an email yesterday, a local friend wrote these words — “Rhonda and I just hang our heads and say, “We sure do miss Janell….”.

Perhaps I need to read Thomas Wolfe’s final novel, “You Can’t Go Home Again.”  I anticipate a few gifts waiting in this title, which may speak to where I am in life right now.

And where am I today in life?  I am haunted by that seasonal song  first sung by Bing Crosby  —  “I’ll be Home for Christmas” — realizing for the first time, that this song will never be true for me again.  Home and the hope of new gatherings of family around the fireplace that Mom kept burning bright all died with Mom.

In my mind today are thoughts of Dad and the nursing home where he now lives.  It is Tuesday after all, and every Tuesday afternoon is devoted to spending time with Dad.  I wonder how Daddy is today.  Is he more there than not?  Friends are kind to ask after Daddy’s state of health.  To one friend yesterday, I recall saying that Dad was just a shell of his former self.  And that his shell was really broken and fragile, carried by others from one place to another, to attend to the business of living.

Daddy will never be home again.  And I don’t just mean the home he shared with Mom, but the the here-and-now home of this world.  And these seashells that litter the beach, that we pick up on our long walks with our dogs…these seashells remind me of Daddy.  Some are paper-thin just like Daddy’s skin, a little frayed around the edges.  Rarely do I find a shell left fully intact from its rough and tumble ride on the surf.  Most of the washed up shells on the beach are mere shadows of their former glory.  I pick them up carefully and wash out their sandy remains to take them home with me.  They will become a sacred souvenir to remind me of my time here at the beach.

One unexpected gift of our trip is it will allow me to once again go home for Christmas.  I’ll go bearing gifts of washed up  broken seashells from this eastern sandy shore that so far has been absent of visible sun and blue skies.

It will be to my own home that I go, the one that sits in Mesta Park.  If one doesn’t leave home for long, one can go home again and it will feel and smell like home and nothing much important will have changed.  Except for this one change:  There in Mesta Park, I will become the home to which my family goes to for Christmas.