I know what it is to live entirely for and with what I love best on earth.-Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Mona's Musings

June 28th, 2010

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


Visit Mona’s Musings on Facebook for this week’s photos from our stroll to Buckingham Palace through St. James Park. And don’t miss the additions to Europe’s Affectionate Lovers!

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?

What did you think of this musing?

Join the discussion!


  1. Bri Z. says:

    I caught on about the middle of the third paragraph. How perfectly wonderful that you should write about Grandma and Grandpa. They mean so much to us, a generation down from them! I know you might not have meant it too, but that quote about commitment sounds a lot like your dad: kind eyes, sturdy shoes, and their marriage, obviously the product of years of tender care. I am so grateful that Grant and I are able to spend so much time with them and that Kristi and I saw them just this weekend.

    Your self-reflection makes sense. “A natural desire and commitment to constancy; an innate attitude and aptitude” innate because it was bred into you by the example of loving and good parents. Grant and I feel blessed to be surrounded by strong examples of commitment and constancy: parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles . . . people who’be been working to make it work for years and people we love so much who’ve suffered heartache and remain the most beautiful, virtuous human beings we have the privilege to know. Thank you for this lovely tribute to your goodly parents. We love and cherish them so. I think your friend paid you a very fine compliment. I hope someday a friend will observe that we have inherited something of the strong marriages that begot our own.

    • Bri Z. says:

      Oh P.S. I thought you’d think this was completely charming; I certainly did. When we were with Ray this weekend, speaking of marriages he said, “It’s just obvious that Grant adores you. . . absolutely adores you.” That was a highlight in my week, I’ll tell you!

    • mona says:

      Beautiful Bri! And that quote was meant to put words to the photo above it: yes, it’s my mom and dad. Thank you for adding your own tribute and illustrating how generations are affected. LOVE YOU!

  2. Debbi says:

    It took me reading almost the whole story before I figured out who the soldier and orphan were, but the morphing house gave it away. How delightfully you told their story. And you nailed the meaning of my comment. But while your parents one-ness is apparently very tied to their home and local routine, and while you naturally prefer and find comfort in the familiar places and routines yourself, after a lifetime of moving from place to place, the constancy, my dearest friend, for you and Dale is internal, every bit as much as it has to do with your surroundings. Your “home” has so much less to do with the walls, paint, pictures, furnishings and boxes of stored memories than it has to do with your spirit. For I have been in your various homes around the country when you were not there and the objects are void and empty without the vital spirit you infuse in them just by your presence. You can’t know what it is like to be in your home without you in it, so you may not be able to appreciate what everyone else knows. There on the island empire so completely removed from the familiar exteriors and belongings you have thought of as home, you will have a unique opportunity to discover that home is in you and in your relationship. And I notice when your parents travel – they find a way to maintain their routines in whatever city they are passing through – their communications remain completely in tact – their relationship is not altered, they continue to function as yin and yang as always, which they started that night at the church dance. Which you and Dale started that night you kissed on a tiny little stage in West Yellowstone, Montana. This musings brought tears to my eyes.
    I love you. I love your parents – happy anniversary to them from me as well!

    • mona says:

      Oh good friend! THANK YOU for all your razor sharp insights into my life.

      • Sara Lyn says:

        I second the motion. I talking to Morgan on the phone while I was staying with Ashley and telling him that I felt so at home because even though I had never been to that particular house of yours before, I had been to your home before and it felt exactly the same!

  3. jane says:

    Happy Anniversary to your parents. How wonderful!
    Glad to hear you are enjoying England. In reference to your previous post, I know what you mean by sensory overload. So much to take in and overwhelming as it can be at times, also what a great opportunity for experience and learning. Nice to have your daughter and hubby for the strength as you say, and someone to share with. Lovely stories you have, I will add you to my blog roll. Talk to you soon, jane

    • mona says:

      Jane, Thank you for your wishes and support of Musings! I am bit by bit, my fellow Brit, falling in love with England. Is it just my imagination, or are the skies BLUER and the birds happier here????

  4. Heidi Ashworth says:

    So sweet! My parents celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary last August. How lucky you are to have had your parents for so many years.

    • mona says:

      Heidi — 60! Wow. That is one thing about being the oldest that I appreciate — having my parents a little longer into MY old age.

  5. Heidi says:

    I wondered who this story could be about. It’s so sweet. It’s nice to know that some sweet things are desirable and worth it!

    And I’m very grateful that I had an amazing example in my parents’ marriage.

    • mona says:

      Heidi, You have often made reference to your parents at Musings and I was thinking of you and them as I wrote this post. Their example will prove invaluable to you.

  6. Sharon says:

    Such a sweet and priceless story. Love and Happy Anniversary to your wonderful and caring parents! Bri and Debbi, I love your comments. Debbi’s comment makes me miss you even more! She’s right about you and Dale, your sweet and binding relationship is what really makes your home together, no matter where you live! However, I do feel your spirits here in your home. It’s kind of a bittersweet, echo of a feeling though because it makes me miss you more but you’re still here! And I’m so thankful!

    • mona says:

      Sharon, As we are living in the home of another family for ten days until our Kew flat opens up, I totally understand what you are saying. Their spirit is here and yet we do not feel like intruders, but rather like they are wrapping us up in a warm welcome to all that is theirs. I hope you feel the same!

  7. Aunt Angel says:

    I knew immediately who this special story was about- my dear brother and sister-in-law who have modeled how to make a beautiful relationship for so many years. Sweet Mona, this lovely story brought me to tears. It touched me deeply. What a wonderful tribute to your parents. It has always been a happy thing for me that my childhood home morphed into a delightful, whimsical place that has nurtured so many family members and held many happy family gatherings.

    Much love to you all in the UK and Happy Anniversary to Ray and Sharon!

    • mona says:

      Angel, I’m delighted that your picked up on the story so fast and that you appreciated the reference to “whimsy” about the house. I’ve never been able to find the right way to describe it until I composed this post. It is so much more than a house, isn’t it? It was also hard to find a way to express myself in tribute to my parents…some things just don’t belong in words.

  8. Diana Coatney says:

    Wonderful story. It brought tears to my eyes as it brought back memories of my parents and their wonderful example of love and commitment to each other; as you know we lost my mom this year, just short of their celebrating sixty years together. It doesn’t surprise me that you come from such steady examples. Thank you for sharing their story. It is great to read your blog each week and to hear you are doing well across the sea, but we miss you back here. I wish your parents a happy anniversary and many more wonderful years together. Diana

    • mona says:

      Oh Diana! It doesn’t surprise me either that you came from such steady stock. I did not realize that your parents had been married nearly 60 years! At that age and stage of marriage – your whole lives are each other. God bless your dad.

  9. marzee says:

    Oh Mona, I want to hear the full story of the Greek boy and the orphaned girl! What a wonderful introduction to such a love. Write a book about it!
    My husband’s grandfather is currently dying. He and his wife have a beautiful story that begins with her mother who came from a family of aristocrats and turned away from them to marry the gardner’s son of their summer house. She was disinherited – and well bred and graceful Grandma Raquel continued the tradition of marrying for love. She died only a few years ago and left Grandpa Dick heartsick. His then robust health, rapidly declined with her loss. He now lays in the fetal position as he starves towards each step that will take him back to his love. It won’t be long now. . . . and as my eyes well, I think how wonderful it will be when he may escape the pain and return to his home, which will be eternally in her arms.
    There is much to be said for the quiet example of true love, the kind that influences generations to honor and lift their companions through the eternities.
    Thank you for your thoughts.

    • mona says:

      Marzee! I am up for all book ideas right now. It’s what a really want to do. The story of your grandparents sounds like the making of one as well! How long were they married? Dale’s parents also had a romance worth writing about – which came to a dramatic “conclusion” just this spring. Hmmmm……Did you read the Musing: Fit For a Queen? If you haven’t, please do, and give me your reaction…

      • marzee says:

        If you’re speaking of the one that touched on the movie Queen Victoria, yes I did – and had to watch the movie as well. Loved it.

      • marzee says:

        PS. Grandpa Dick passed the evening of July 4th. He is with his Racquel now.

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