Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

Cape Cod

Home Comes to Us. Sunday musings…8/27/2023

Where do you live? Morgan Freeman: “Everyone lives somewhere.” Do they? Do you?

Where you live is more than where you are domiciled at the present moment. The distinction between “house” and “home” is real, is substantial. Home requires effort; house requires a checkbook. A house demands upkeep of the walls, the various and sundry systems and furnishings, but a home demands an on-going commitment to what is contained within those walls.

Home also seems to contain a notion of place. A “where are you from” kind of statement or sense. You’ve committed to a certain zip code, learned the rules of the road so well that you move through that larger space in a continual comfort zone. It might be described as simply as knowing where to find eggs for emergency muffins on a rainy Sunday morning, this notion of “home in place”. Beth and I pretended to look for a “retirement home” once upon a time. In addition to the fact that so many good friends live within 10 mile of our “regular home” we decided that instantly being able to call up the backup pharmacy or emergency wine store was worth retiring where we live.

I wonder, and I readily confess that I worry about my friends who have multiple “homes”. Does home travel with them from place to place, simply injected into the particular space they occupy at any given moment? Maybe. I know that I am always “home enough” whenever I happen to be accompanied by Beth. For instance I am never too very uptight if I’m delayed or even stranded while traveling as long as we are together; I’m already home.

“Everyone lives somewhere”, but is somewhere home?

My 45th High School reunion is coming up in Rhode island. I don’t think Southbridge is doing one. it’s next weekend, Labor Day weekend, dates chosen at least in part so that “ex pats” like me living elsewhere might have a chance to attend. It would hav been a bit of a layup: go to Reunion and visit my Mom. except for one really substantial detail:

Mom just moved to Cleveland.

Not gonna lie, there is just so, so very much to unpack about this that it may take weeks of musings to sort it all out. Let’s start with this: for the first time in 49 years not member of the White family is living in Lincoln RI. No one. Dad is gone. We all fledged decades ago. None of the grand children settled there. And now Mom, having been terrifically let down by the retirement home she chose in town needed to move closer to some part of her family.

Once upon a time this would have been a non-event. No family just up and left their ancestral home en masse. Someone always stayed behind, and if they didn’t your parents bailed, too. Maybe they migrated nearer to one of their chicks, or maybe they struck out to a fairer clime, but by the time they needed to have someone near they were already, well, near.

Home, then, became a much more complex thing. Was home where your parents lived? Think about that for a bit. Even if they stayed in your “hometown”, if they moved from the building that housed your primordial bed, was their new address home? We, well actually Beth, gave this a bit of thought as we were deciding to downsize. It’s been 10 years (Ten. Years!). Turns out we moved early enough that our 4 kids have come to see our home as the family home. Beth’s Dad insisted on dying in the ancestral home, a former one-room school house that had been in the family for 4 generations. When the three Hurst girls think of home now it means the place where their own mail gets delivered.

And now my Mom no longer lives in Lincoln.

Where, then, is home? Well, my home just became a bit more “home” to be honest. Mom could have gone to Connecticut or south Carolina to be near my siblings, but our little version of home here is at the moment the one with the largest concentration of family members, what with 2 of Mom’s grandsons and their 7 children all here. There was a certain logic in this that made Cleveland a rather obvious choice, however much our 80 year old version of Mom would have discounted it out of hand, but at 86 it was obvious. More family members means more visits. More little slices of home.

Home is still here, for me, at Casa Blanco with Beth, near to my sons and their families and a quick direct flight for my daughter and son-in-law. But it has become a bit more. Whatever remains of my “ancestral home”, the domicile that housed the “primordial” bed from which rose whatever it is that I evolved into, has now moved to a building that shares a strand of fir trees with my office. My mother has moved to Cleveland to spend the rest of her days here, with me and with Beth and with the rest of our little slice of the family. Everyone lives somewhere, and now my Mom lives here, in Cleveland, with us.

Home has come home to me.

I’ll see you next week…

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