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Coming Home


There’s nothing like it, especially when one is returning to it after a long vacation.

It’s not just a general coming back home that makes the difference. It’s a return to familiar surroundings, to the sounds and smells that have become a regular part of one’s life. It’s the comfort of knowing where things are and of being able to go directly and automatically to that place without having to search for them. It’s the ease with which one does everyday things, like shaving and showering, without worrying about being quiet lest one wake others who are sleeping later than you.

Coming home offers the comfort of relaxing in one’s own chair, even with its annoying creak or pop when one sinks into it or rises from it. And it’s impossible to describe the comfort of lying in one’s own bed. No matter how nice and comfortable the other beds might have been, they can never compare to one’s own mattress (even if it sags) and pillow and sheets and blankets.

Returning home also means a return to one’s familiar routine, the regular activities that one has tended to engage in with hardly a thought. The quiet time of devotions and cup of coffee in the still morning hours before anyone else in the house has begun to stir. The early walk with one’s spouse in the cool (or, here in the South, the more likely humid) air. The periods of sustained, uninterrupted writing. All of the routine activities that have been disturbed by the vacation. But it still takes one a while to get back into that routine.

Yet, coming home also includes missing certain things that, over two weeks, had become, even if only for a few days, the new routine, the new normal. The early rising of the grandchildren as they greet you with a shy smile while stepping slowly down the stairs from their bedroom. The still, close cuddling that begins your day with them. The laughter of young voices as they fully wake and begin their play. There are the

mornings spent with individual grandchildren, when you showered each child with your undivided attention and you saw their individual personalities come alive without the accompanying influence of siblings. And there are the memories of afternoons spent in whole-family

activities. Exploring a park in search of hidden toad sculptures. Walking through a historic site and its gardens. And the chance to explore the shelves of an unfamiliar library.

There are the times of playing in the sandbox with other the granddaughters. Of trying to fit one’s adult (supersized at that) frame into a child’s “castle” or makeshift tent with the grandkids. Of following an active granddaughter from swings to merry-go-round to slides and other features in a community park, always with a hand ready to catch or steady youthful energy that is oblivious to the dangers of falls.

But. . . .

Returning also involves the jungle of a yard that is beginning to look like an English garden. It must be mowed and trimmed. And that in haste between morning showers and threatened afternoon thunderstorms. And when the

accumulated mail arrives, there are the numerous bills to pay lest they become overdue and incur late fees. And the inevitable backlog of reading material that must be devoured–at some point, hopefully in the near future.

I think it was Thomas Wolfe who said, “You can’t go home again.” He was right. But it’s true only when one has been away from home for a long, long time. He was dead wrong about returning home after a two-week vacation. In that case, you can go home again. And it is so good.

But it’s also good to cherish the time spent with children and grandchildren. Memories that will remain with you forever. And some vestige of which you hope will remain in their memories, too.

Copyright (c) 2018

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