Home can be many things.
“It takes a heap o’ livin’ in a house t’ make it home,
It don’t make any differunce how rich ye get t’ be,
How much yer chairs and tables cost, how great yer luxury;
It ain’t home t’ ye, though it be the palace of a King.
Until somehow yer soul is sort o’ wrapped round everything.
Home ain’t a place that gold can buy or get up in a minute;
Afore it’s home there’s got t’ be a heap o’ livin’ in it;
Within the walls there’s got t’ be some babies born an’ then
Right there ye’ve got t’ bring ‘em up t’ women good, an’ men;
Afore it’s home there’s got t’ be a heap o’ living in it”.
— Excerpt from “Home,” It takes A Heap o’ Livin, 1916 Edgar A. Guest
This poem, which could have been written by James Whitcomb Riley but wasn’t, offers a nostalgic version of home.
Lacking poetry, the dictionary calls home a place of residence or the base of operation of a business or activity; a sports team has a home stadium.
When you are asked where home is, do you give extra thought to your answer? Do they want your street address (you are talking to an official person), the part of the country you are from (to explain your accent), or where you were born and lived as a child (you just moved to town and met someone new)? The best answer depends on the circumstances.
Do you define home by explaining who you were in your formative years? For example, if I am asked about my home and I know the person knows where my house is, I am likely to say, “I was born and raised in Detroit. I am a Michigander.” This pops out even though I lived in Detroit full-time for only 17 years. I have been living in another state for 61 years and I call it home. It has been a big part of my life, but being a native is congenital and I have no claim.
A friend refers to her family home, which has served several generations, by its proper name. This home now requires more help than it provides but it remains a symbol of home. Another couple explained they were married and then of necessity moved to different parts of the country to complete professional training. Though apart for nearly a year, they managed to purchase a home in the town where they intended to live. When their training finished, they moved in and have kept the same house for 36 years. They know where home is.
Home is where your sock drawer is.
Home is the house that has earned a name.
Home is where you are the host who pays the bills.
Home is where you pack your suitcase with only what you need.
Home is where you are with your loved ones and no plane to catch.
Home is a place you are eager to leave and delighted to return to.
Home is a place where you are comfortable with yourself.
Home is a safe harbor you provide for loved ones.
Home is a place that welcomes you back.
Being away from home offers fresh experience, exciting times, and new people—a healthy change of scene brings energy. When you return, home welcomes you with comforts, like your own bed (if it’s not better, it should be. Get a new mattress if need be.) Your TV, laundry, refrigerator, microwave, and computer are useful ‘old friends’ offering peace.
Coming home also means seeing people who you haven’t seen for weeks or maybe months. When they say “welcome home” warm feelings are shared.
The internet blurs the difference between home and away. We see the same television shows, talk on the phone, and work from home even though we may be halfway around the world. Home, in this sense, is portable—wherever we are!
Being away from home recently was a special treat for me because it allowed me to be with my family for lengths of time and in ways that, until now, had not been possible. This made me realize that the feeling of home was less where I was but who I was with and what we were doing.
Many of us in later years must “leave home,” the place where families were raised, and memories made – where some of our heart remains. These memories never go away. The important adjustment to make is to know that where you are now is home because that’s where the heart is.
By Savvy Senior
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