No Place Like Home
A slender boy with the dark features and thick hair of his Greek fore-bearers ducked strings of crepe paper to enter a gym full of young people. His Army uniform earned notice and though Elvis kept crooning, the chatter of chaperons and dancing couples changed direction. A few thought the newcomer had once lived in the neighborhood, but others weren’t too sure: the war in Korea pulled their young men away and changed the aspect of those who returned.
Whether or not they recognized him, or remembered his contribution to the construction of the church where they gathered, or whether they cared that their houses had been built by his grandfather or that their streets had been named by his great-grandfather, was of no matter before the evening was out. He may have felt self-aware in the first hour, but by the second he was completely oblivious to disappointed wall-flowers and gossiping refreshment ladies. There was this girl.
No one knew her exactly. With the round face and innocent expression of one who had hardly been out of her own neighborhood, they wondered where she had come from. Within minutes of the boy’s appearance, it was clear they would not get the chance to ask. He found out that she was visiting a brother, one of eight older siblings doing their best to raise her. And she found out that his mother had remarried. Disruptions to childhood and adolescence had left each longing for resolution, and that night the soldier and the orphan found a resting place in each other.
Soon after, they bought the house his grandfather had built. All the relatives moved to other places, but they stayed on; eschewing risk, secure in routine, unconsciously determined to give their little girl and four boys stability. Then the children grew up and away, but they stayed on. Grandchildren and great-grandchildren came and went, but they stayed on. Their only change of scenery has been the house-my-great-grandfather-built, which morphs to the whims of the people inside. What need have they had for anyplace else? My parents are the epitome of Dorothy’s return-from-Oz wisdom: there IS no place like home.
And so you see, I am bred for the habitual, the regular, the repetitive. My mother and father have modeled permanence in a way that makes adapting to a new country a bit uneasy for me, but I have found that their example compensates with something far more important: a natural desire and commitment to constancy; an innate attitude and aptitude which has under-girded my own thirty-two year marriage.
A friend recently observed that ‘Dale & Mona’ are acting more and more like ‘Ray & Sharon’. I wasn’t sure what she meant until we walked through tiny Bray Village last week. Each aged cottage and mature garden radiated contentment and sameness like art by Thomas Kinkade. The paned windows at dusk glowed from inside and I imagined old men and women cherishing an evening together exactly like hundreds before. A romantic notion I know, but the vision suddenly illuminated what my friend meant to say about Dale and me. In comparing us to my parents, she was referring to our oneness: a cohesiveness created by steadiness. And by that, I am deeply flattered.
Happy 53rd Anniversary Mom and Dad.
“Commitment has kind eyes. He wears sturdy shoes. Everything is vivid when he is around. It is wonderful to sit and have lunch in his gardens around harvest time. You can taste in the vegetables that the soil has been cared for.” – J. Ruth Gendler
Hint of Romance
Consider how important your example in marriage is to your children. Aren’t their future romances worth giving everything to yours for?