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Going Home

9 Comments 04 June 2010

Home is a interesting concept.  Think about how often we use the word.  It has a multitude of meanings, I looked and it has about ten or so actual definitions with descriptors like house, dwelling, place, habitat, country and such.  I am mulling this over because I am currently in my hometown and my daughter wants to see the “home” where I grew-up.

That is not an easy task as I lived in six different houses in my first eighteen years and my parents, who are now divorced, have lived in seven different places between them since I left home for college.  I don’t really associate home with a place, a house, or a dwelling.  I know that a great number of people have a place that they spent their entire lives growing-up, I am just not one of them.

One of the definitions of home spoke of  a valued place regarded as a refuge or place of origin.  I feel like that definition resonates in my soul more deeply than any of the other definitions.  When I think of home as a refuge and I think back on my childhood I think of my grandparent’s home.  They lived about twenty minutes from my hometown and we generally spent at least one weekend night with them and had Sunday lunch with them every week.  Those weekend nights were spent at the local horse show eating Cracker Jacks and those early Saturday mornings were spent with my Nana at the beauty parlor.  The memories are fantastic.

I also have vivid memories of my Nana and Gaga’s home, the deep green shag carpet, the wood paneling walls, the linoleum kitchen floor with the big black burn circle from where Nana had dropped a hot skillet, the big grey rocks in the driveway, the pool table in the back part of the house, the quilts that Nana used to make my bed on the couch, my Gaga’s recliner and the Pinky and Blue Boy prints that hung on the den wall.  These are just a few of the things that I can close my eyes and conjure up with my mind’s eye.

Maybe it was the sameness, the stability of the one house, but I truly believe it was how I felt when I was there as a child.  I felt safe and I felt home.  Home is something you feel, down deep inside, it is connected to relationship.  My grandparents were killed in a car accident 33 years ago this month.  They had just left our house.  My sister, brother and myself had lined-up like little stair steps to kiss them and tell them we loved them.  We waved good-bye to never see them again and within half an hour a truck from Ozark truck lines was on top of their car. They were gone in an instant.

I have often wondered if in that instant a sense of security and home was taken from my entire family.  As a nine year old child I remember sitting and holding my knees, weeping.  I just kept thinking God had taken them because I had not been good enough.  No home, no house would ever be the same for me as a child.  But I had learned the sense, the feeling, the reality of what home was and I have known it as an adult and hope and pray my own children know it.  We have moved several times because of jobs.  My kids have lived in three different cities and several houses.

I love Patty Griffin, have I mentioned that?  (I will mention it a lot!)  She has a new album out called Downtown Church that I, of course, love.  She sings a haunting duet with Julie Miller called Coming Home To Me .  It reminds me that I am not going to live on this earth forever, that I am going home to someone, a someone that I am confident shares the company of my grandparents already.  It also makes me want to sing it to my children and remind them that regardless of where they go, what they do, or where we live…their home, as long as they walk this earth, is always with me.

What do you think of when you think of home?  Where is your home?  I would love to hear your stories.

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9 Comments so far

  1. Judy Helfand says:

    Right now I am savoring your story. So powerful, I never knew my grandparents, they had all passed away at relatively young ages, well before my birth. What I came to know about home was really more about what my father worked very hard to share with me and my siblings. He was one of 13, born in 1918, and had a beautiful twin sister. My mother also born in 1918 with a twin sister. They were both born in Montana. My father opted to join the Navy when he was 18. When the 2nd world war ended he did not want the life of being a miner, so he re-enlisted. His siblings were very important to him and felt the same about my mother’s siblings. So every couple of years he would pack us into the car and make the drive from San Diego to home, Great Falls, MT. What I learned from my father is how special home is…I tried very hard to impart to my children. Over the years, I just always felt that home is where your heart is.
    I think that is how you are describing your grandparents. You felt alive and loved, safe, your old photos show that. And the fact that you still have the photos…tells your children all about “home”.
    Last month, Chris Brogan tempted people to write a post about the importance of story. Here is a link to my effort. You will get a feeling of my father from reading his letter. Click on the jpgs of the letter and they will enlarge.
    http://livingbeyondthepale.com/wp-content/themes/dailyedition-OLDx/styles/boxed-grey.css2010/04/importance-of-story.html
    Have a great weekend.

  2. Dawn Irmscher says:

    My grandparents had the same Pinky and Blueboy pictures hanging in their living room! Athough they had yellow shag carpet! How funny! Must be some sort of 60’s southern decorating trend!

  3. Norma Scott Gerrell says:

    Jorja…I remember that time so well. Those pictures brought back such memories. I remember feeling such loss for you & Jennifer. I think about my Grandparents home often. My paternal grandmother passed away almost 16 years ago. I can still see her in the kitchen, in the garden, reading her Bible at night. I can hear her voice. My Granny, my maternal grandmother is still with us at 96 1/2 years old. Oh, what a blessing she has been to my life. She is a true “bucket filler”. I’ve always felt so uplifted around her. She is sick right now, so I think about her very much each day. She embodies home for me. Carlton and I have always had a goal to have a calm home. We want our boys to love being at home and they do. It’s not a perfect home, but there is much joy, love, and laughter. As I get older, I think more about my eternal home. How beautiful it will be, how perfect it will be, how Jesus will be the light…I long for that home. But, until I can be there, I’m going to enjoy every minute that I have in this home that we love in Paris, TN.

    PS – My mother & daddy still have Pinky & Blue Boy hanging over their bed…:)

  4. Gigi :) says:

    Jorja: i read every word and soaked each one into my heart. I struggle so much with the loss of Mother and Daddy. Their death left a hole that can never be filled. I long for a hug or kiss on my cheek, being able to open the mail box and pull a letter from Mother out, the phone call that WILL NEVER COME AGAIN, the I love you’s whispered in my ear, the words of encouragement that I need so much from her. Oh! to have them back. Of course, I loved Daddy as much but, Mom and I shared so much in common. Not many know but that’s where my love of poetry comes from. She too, had enjoyed drawing as a young woman. She had shared some of her drawings with me. Where they are now, who knows. I wish I could have the privilege now, 33 years later, to “feast my eyes” on them. I love to read because of her. I hope too that my “heart for others” came from her. I think she would like who I am today…maybe she just might be proud. 🙂 She would love my Ashley, Jonathan and Mary-Kathryn. Sad to think she never knew MY GIRL. Nana would have wanted to squeeze her to pieces.
    You know Jorja….if their death taught me one thing it would be that loss IS HARD….but life does go on. That what we choose to do with life in the aftermath of sudden death, is our choice. We can succumb to a life of bitterness OR we can step to a “higher plane”. I have no regrets that I choose to deal with the pain in a healthy way. Sometimes I can stand on our balcony here at home, or our balcony from our Destin condo and look toward heaven………… late at night and somehow I can feel “they are right here with me.” I am thankful that God loved me to “healing.”
    Thank you sweet niece for loving me. Maybe one day when I am gone….I will have left a little bit of me that you can carry on through life. Hopefully, it may bring you lots of smiles……maybe a few giggles. I LOVE YOU! …………Your GIGI 🙂

  5. kate says:

    after moving way, way too many times, i’ve come to think that i don’t really know where “home” is anymore. i never had a connection with my grandparents like you describe (beautiful) and my parents are divorced. i don’t feel connected to a certain place either…

    so, i don’t know about home.
    i know i’m trying to create one here for my kids…
    what i do know is that i’m going to be thinking about this for a while now. 😉

  6. paije says:

    Wow! This really hit me hard…I too moved ALOT growing up, and don’t identify any certain house as my “growing up” home. There’s no place that comes to mind when I try and conjure up “home” in my memories, how sad… My dad died suddenly when I was 16, and it is amazing what such significant loss can do to a young soul. Lots of bad choices and lots of regret early in life… BUT dealing with his death also gave me an incredible strength to face hardships as an adult and to appreciate the time I have with those I love. Not a milestone in life goes by when I don’t feel the scab being ripped off my heart, as I long for daddy to be sharing it with me. Now as a parent, creating a “home” a “refuge” for my children has truly been a guiding force. Colby, who leaves for college in the fall, just now walked past and I asked him, “What do you think of when i say home?” His answer, “you and dad”, so I must be doing something right!

  7. Gigi :) says:

    PAIJE: TRULY……YOU ARE DOING SOMETHING RIGHT!. NOTHING CAN TAKE AWAY THAT
    WARM FUZZY FEELING THAT YOUR SON WILL CARRY AWAY WTH HIM. SEE, HE SAID, “MOM AND DAD”. WHAT A TREASURE YOU CAN STORE AWAY IN YOUR HEART. MY SONS ARE 40 AND ALMOST 38…MY DAUGHTER IS 28. WE NEVER CLOSE A CONVERSATION THAT WE DON’T SAY I LOVE YOU. I KNOW THESE THREE WORDS CAN BECOME A CATCH PHRASE BUT,WE TRULY MEAN IT. THEY ARE MY HEART AND SOUL 🙂 HE WILL NOW, MORE THAN EVER,APPRECIATE YOU AND HIS DAD AND THE LOVE AND DEVOTION THAT HAS BEEN SHOWERED UPON HIM. HE WILL FACE SO MUCH “OUT IN THE BIG WORLD” BUT, I BET HIS UPBRINGING WILL HELP TO ALMOST ALWAYS “REIN HIM BACK IN.” KEEP UP THE FAITH.

  8. Paije says:

    Just read the following lines in a wonderful book, Cutting For Stone, and thought they were very true and apropos ….
    “wasn’t that the definition of home? Not where you are from, but where you are wanted?”


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“I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wondering awed about on a splintered wreck I've come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty bats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them...” Annie Dillard

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