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.
This beautiful and poignant and oddly synchronous; last night and then again this morning, while sitting here at my pc, I had the thought come up as strongly as if someone had spoken it to me, “I want to go home!” I know I’m in trouble when this thought pops up; according to Native American wisdom, that I have gleaned from NA friends over many years, going home is seen(in this yearning contect) as a longing for death, a return to our one true and eternal home.
I shall be at home here for Christmas and yet, there is a big part of me that yearns for other houses, other homes, other years and other people. I haven’t got the tree up yet, nor all the presents sent; Tree is scheduled for this Sunday, presents for today and the rest of the week.
There is always something bittersweet about Christmas, like the finest dark chocolate that has that kick to it, rather than the sugary milk chocolate of Choccie coins and santas. This “chocolate” is not for the children who cannot savour and appreciate the secret pleasure of the bittesweet remembrance and realisations of both our mortality and our divinity.
prayers for you and yours.
Your lovely words remind me of Frederick Buechner’s sentiments expressed in “A Longing for Home.” I wish I could offer you a sample, so you could say, “Ah, yes…”. But my beloved books lay 500 miles away, a gap we will close soon.
There are other gaps to close… Ever present within me are memories of my dearly departed and Christmases past, while without, my hands and mind attend to the business of living, with that desire to keep the love of Christmas burning strong and bright for those of us left behind.
“Mind the gap.” These words come at me, though I’m not sure the words are spoken to me as much as to my father. Each Tuesday I see him I realize it may be our last time to hug and say I love you. I do so knowing that it’s my way of wishing Dad well, to allow him to board the one-way subway to eternity, with all our words of love safely attended to.
This touches me so deeply in many ways. The metaphor of the shells…. your father…. home… all pluck at my heartstrings. I once wrote a poem “Fighting Conch”, rather off the cuff, about an experience I had on Captiva Beach while my father was fighting for his life. I don’t know if I ever shared it with you, but perhaps when the holiday craziness subsides, I’ll post it here on Blogger.
And for me…. I know that right now Florida is my “home,” but there is this restless feeling I have particularly around the holidays. It just doesn’t feel like “home,” even though my kids are here with me. Being so far from my family, not being able to share the holidays with them has been so hard over the years. Yet I wonder, when we finally move north & once again experience Christmas, complete with snow, will my children follow me? Will it feel like home? I hope that you have a Merry Christmas, and I will keep you and your father in my prayers.
Yesterday was a blue day. Funny that the skies have not been blue once during our short visit back “home.”
When all becomes still after Christmas, do share the poem about your father. I will look forward to reading it.
On the surface of life, I don’t allow myself to grow melancholy. I keep busy. I get things done. Nevertheless, it’s there, just living under the surface, and as soon as I sit down to write, out it comes. Sometimes I feel like a broken record — you know, same old tune, no new thoughts, maybe a few new lyrics.
One of my favorite Christmas movies is Family Stone. I love how the family descends on the family home for Christmas. And I imagine it will be that with you and Dan also, no matter where your physical residence is. We will pray it so.
Merry Christmas to you and yours. Praying all is well…