You can't go home again
A few weeks ago, I was in Janesville visiting my son and daughter-in-law and also catching up with and meeting old and new friends. It was overall a wonderful trip, however much driving I did! One thing I had on my list, was to stop back at the farm, where I needed to check out and see what things were left there and what might need to be rescued before we have it cleaned out.
I have been getting used to the idea of this not being my home for a long time now. The first part of this transition of course came from my college days. Once you leave home like that, you just don't quite feel like you belong there anymore. Which is the way it is supposed to be I am sure! Growing up, maturing, spreading your wings and striking out on your own: all part of life. But I still felt like I could live there, and did. It was a little disconcerting when they erased all traces of my room the fall after my last summer living there. Dad always said he was going to cut off our rooms as we moved out so we couldn't move back in again. We always laughed at that, but little did my brother Russ or I realize that they were sort of going to do that!!! They knocked out the wall between our rooms and made themselves a giant bedroom. Can you imagine?? Rose and Ed had rooms upstairs, and none of us wanted to go up there!!
|My old room that became mom and dad's room|
|Mom and Dad's original room- later the guest room|
The next phase of course was getting married and moving away from the house. In my case, I moved clear over to the other side of the state. I was in a remote area, and I was an urban kind of girl. What the heck was I thinking?? The family farm was a place of refuge, a place that was warmer, safe, familiar. People loved me there, they did not think I was a stranger, an interloper, someone who dared to have a mind of her own. Quiet little Debi was quite the boat rocker in the north. Who knew? I was glad to dive into the warmth of my familiar surroundings, and Fred had to find a way to nestle in himself. I think he did, because there was a lot of mutual adoration going on between him and my parents.
But over the years, I began to feel like I fit in up north. My family helped me flow into the stream of the community and I developed deep, rich friendships. I discovered who was important in my life and who I really only needed to see once or twice a year, in spite of living in the same town. The family farm was a place then to vacation! The kids loved it there, the Grandparents were thrilled to have us come and visit. We did so many things together, enjoyed each other's company, had family gatherings large and small. My brothers and sister had families and we all became close, even though we were spread out all over the state and one in Minnesota! We always met up and hung out at the farm.
The last few years have been difficult to deal with, but I have adjusted, yet again. My mom lived alone for several years after my dad died. Home became a place to come to terms with the end of my childhood as I knew it. My daddy was gone, my mom is going. You process the fact that things will never be the same, you could never go back to what you had when life seemed simple and safe. It is a really hard transition, but things do get easier.... sort of. We had to move mom to an assisted living facility a few years ago, and that is when the farm has changed from home to house. Indeed, it is not the place you live, it is the people you live with that make a home. My family home, the place I lived from kindergarten through my wedding is no longer there. The house is, the home is not. The furniture is being dispersed, the belongings have been tucked into cars and taken to other locales. The memories are stored in each of us. Soon, the rest of the "stuff" that life brought to the farm will be gone, cleaned out and the house will be emptied.
It had gotten to a point lately that going to the farm was not hard to do. It wasn't painful, it might have been a little eerie, a little spooky in a way, but not hard. This trip was hard. I saw it in tones of sepia, shades of nostalgia, with a few brush strokes of regret. As Jon, Sarah and I walked through, we could see why houses need to be lived in. Leaks have developed, things have fallen a little into disrepair. This old house needs to be lived in again, and unfortunately it might not be someone from the family. There is so much work that needs to be done inside, it is really dated in many places, but there are some nice parts as well. The original house was built in 1848! The year Wisconsin became a state- it is pretty cool when you think of it in historic terms. There are huge timbers inside the walls, its infrastructure is sound. It just needs to be battened down and prettied up. It SHOULD be restored to it's original victorian splendor.
I was emotionally saying goodbye to many things- childhood (but that'll never go away completely!), my parents, my old home. I don't know if the transition will be totally complete until the house belongs to someone else, but I know that the next trip won't smack me between the eyes like this one did.....
So many transitions but so important to life. Find your joy even through your tears.