29 May 2017

You can never go home

I went tonight to my family home for the last time. In a few days it will pass from our hands. At best it will become the home of another family. At worst, and probably more likely, it will be torn down and replaced with another house.

I walked in the rooms of all my earliest memories. Here is where my father sat, there my uncle, my aunt, and there my mother. I walked through the basement, and saw or the last time the stones my grandfather had piled to make the foundations strong. Here the trees he planted to provide shelter from the sun and the wind. Here was the window where coal used to be poured through. Here the box where the milkman left his wares. Here the trees I once climbed. Here the rosebushes my father planted. Here's where my grandmother's Hollyhocks bloomed. Here my mother's garden. Here the place where she liked to paint.  Here the dip in the lawn that marked the spot where my grandfather dug a well. I filled my car with what relics I could, though I have little room for them here.

All that will be swept away, as though it had never been. They now live in an increasingly distant past, to the current generation they are those from another time they cannot imagine, roughly contemporary with Shakespeare and the Roman Empire. There is no longer even the illusion of going back, finding the comfort that only one's true home may bring. The elder generation is gone. We are now orphans, and homeless.

However, I do have memories and some relics.  Among the things I have brought home were some old photos. Here's one of my old aunt and my eldest daughter. I am glad to have found it. My relationship with my aunt was complicated: she had many sides to her. But in this photo I see the aunt I wish to remember.

Here is another photo I found in a box I was about to throw out. I am so grateful I stopped long enough to take a look to make certain what was in it. I had no idea this photo even existed.

The month of June is approaching, and with it we are drawing nearer to Father's Day. Inevitably, there will be calls to end the day, and reminders that not everyone had a good father. Indeed, from the newspapers and other sources it appears good fathers are few and far between.

But there are those of us, we supremely lucky ones, who had it otherwise, and I am among the luckiest, for the best man I ever knew or ever will know was the first.

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