I have lived in New Jersey for over 30 years, but “home” is still in Pennsylvania. It is where I was born, where most of my family still lives, and where I have my roots. There is a peace and familiarity to it; a calmness and comfort in its landscape. When I am driving to visit, there’s a point in my ride that changes – I slow down, the road starts to curve and wind, my body starts to relax and I take in the scenery. There are mountains in view, wide open expanses of land, cornfields and farmlands, and brilliant blue skies. I forget the beauty of this area; the simple charm of the country. I am home.
Home hasn’t changed very much in these past 30 years. The door is still open and anyone can walk in and be greeted by my mom or dad. Mom is in the kitchen, on her chair or on the phone. Dad is puttering around out back, inventing something in the garage or “resting” on his chair. Some things never change.
As I walked into the house this past weekend, I realized how very fortunate I am (at 53 years old) to have both of my parents in my life. I am lucky to be able to spend time with them. Throughout the weekend, I was reminded that they have their own routines and habits. I come in on a whirlwind with suggestions and changes – “You should… You shouldn’t… Why don’t you…” My ideas are usually met with resistance. I realize I need to dial it back and slow it down, ask them what they need, not always what I think they should do. (As my sister and I learned, they aren’t going to do it anyway!)
We spent the weekend running errands, buying new phones (for the umpteenth time!), sharing lunches, dinners and just hanging out. My husband came along this weekend, my daughter and her boyfriend also stopped by to visit. It was a full house- even the dog was along this time. The house was busy, chaotic and filled with activity. At the end of the day, we were given the gift of a sudden snowstorm, which made everyone slow down and reconnect. We sat around the kitchen table, played a game of cards, went for a drive in the worst of the snow and just hung out. I loved watching my parents interact with our dog. They insist they don’t like animals, buy my mother kept feeding him all weekend and my dad even took him outside on the leash – a sight that has never been seen. They also talked to him whenever anyone wasn’t around.
It was the little things I was thankful for: helping my mom with the wash, putting away the leftover items from Christmas, “making the beds”, and yes, even inputting dads phone contacts manually on his newest flip phone. I know that coming up on a weekend once in awhile isn’t enough. It can’t compare to the daily responsibilities my sister has because she lives close by. But, maybe, just maybe it is enough for that moment. For a fleeting time, my parents’ weren’t sitting alone, the house wasn’t so quiet, and maybe they were just as happy to have me there as I was.
I can still “go home”. I know that needs to happen more frequently. As I was leaving my dad kept thanking me for coming and held on a little more tightly as we hugged goodbye, my mom said she wished we could come more often. That’s all they want- the gift of our presence and time. “Go home” if you can.