Mind you, it took a long while before I could call this house ‘home.’ Home was not Raleigh, North Carolina, but Sharon, Massachusetts, where we had lived for almost thirty years. Home was near the lake where our boys had swum and sailed, near friends with whom I had shared every nuance of life.
Yet, here we were in the south and in a new house, a house where each room echoed my own loneliness and where the Carolina moon, shining through tall, unfamiliar Carolina pines, looked pale and doubtfully down on us all.
Bloom where you are planted; home is where the heart is. Though these aphorisms are all very well and good, they do not heal a homesick heart. But the tide of life sweeps on and takes us with it… sink or swim, it is up to us.
When does a house become a home? The process is slow, incremental, cumulative. There may be a family gathering, a visit from old friends. There could be a birth with all the joy and discovery that a new life brings. There could come new friends, good friends, who gather to rejoice, to help, to bring laughter into the mix. And there will be memories sweet and bittersweet, for here is the room that was my mother’s while she lived with us, and the vases which she used to fill with flowers. And in this room, later, came baby Kate’s small crib and her toys. And there, in the sun-splashed living room where Kate sometimes does her homework now, our grandson Ben once took his first baby steps. And, look, there… there is where little Alex and I played when she was only a year old.
But it is not only the past that warms this house and makes it ours, for the present and the future are busy, too. Spread in a jumble on the kitchen table are recipes for next Thursday, when my quilt group comes to lunch, a reminder that I am to bake a pie for our next family gathering, and a colorful travel brochure hinting at our next adventure. On the computer upstairs in my work room is a schedule of books to be read by my Sharon book club. And on the floor are spread the multifarious fabrics for my latest project.
Home is where memories live and where hopes for the present gather close to dreams for the future. And it is this complex weave of light and shadow, of growth and loss and love and anticipation that come to meet us at the door to welcome us home.