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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Going Home

I recently wrote an article for Thankfull Homes TV. You can find it at This is the fourth time I have tried to get the web address right. The first time I thought the - was a _. The second time I put an extra L in thankful. The third time I forgot the dot between home and tv.
I need stronger glasses...or that Huval/Hubble/ the broken telescope thing. Please go to the sight as there are pictures that go along with the story and the work that the Dayton people are doing to provide safe and affordable housing for senior citizens and single parents is wonderful. In case I have messed the address up yet again, here is the text of the story.

Going Home by Jody Worsham
All rights reserved to buy a porch swing.

It had been one of those days, which makes “one of those days” the cliché that it is. First I had locked the keys in the car for the fourth time that month. Fortunately after the third time, I had another key made, but that, too, was now locked in the car in my purse. Rather than phone my husband to rescue me again, I walked to the nearby car dealership and got yet another key for the car. I guess I was so preoccupied with how forgetful I had become, that I left my purse in the grocery basket at the store and didn’t realize it until I had gotten home. I went back to the store for the purse which, amazingly, an honest shopper had found and turned in to the service desk. That evening at supper I tried talking with my husband.

“When did I turn into my mother?” I asked.
“About two months after you stopped your hormone replacement therapy. Why?
“Thanks a lot. No, I mean I just seem to be forgetting something all the time and then I start worrying about that and forget even more.”
“Could be stress.”

I thought about that for a moment. Let’s see. Stress. Humm, we adopted our one day old grandson and his three year old sister when we were in our early sixties. Could be cause for some stress. It had been nearly thirty-five years since we had adopted our first baby. We are now in our mid-sixties, the one-day-old has entered the Terrible Two’s with a vengeance, followed by the five-year-old’s demand for independence and attention. That’s stressful; plus, we are trying to make sense out of Medicare Part D. More stress.

“Yes, I guess it could be stress. Maybe I need a rest.”
“Want to go camping at the lake?”
“Camping is not a rest when you are packing the RV trailer for four people, cooking, then coming home and unpacking and doing laundry which somehow gets multiplied to the tenth power.”
“Ok, then, where?”
“Good question.”

I thought about the “where.” Where was I the last time I felt totally quiet and peaceful? Then I remembered. It was June, l962 at his parent’s farm when we were newly married. I had spent a glorious day there sitting on the front porch watching the farmers bale hay across the highway. It was a summer day with no thoughts at all in my head. I was just being, just sitting and watching the men labor all day long. His sixty-two year old mother let me sit there and do nothing that while time. I drank coffee in the morning. She joined me shelling peas. At lunchtime, she brought me a sandwich and tea and we sat and ate lunch. That afternoon, she came out on the porch and pieced quilt squares together as I sat transfixed by the activity across the highway. I remember my feet were propped on the porch railing and as I swayed in the old porch swing the cedar bush below tickled the bottom of my bare feet. The smell of honeysuckle was thick in the hot air. Bees were busy by the giant peach tree on the corner and the tall pear tree shaded the sidewalk. Birds were perched on the high lines and seemed to be observing me as I was watching them. It was a glorious day.

“Let’s go home.”
“To your house.”
“I thought this was my house.”
“No, I mean yes this is your house, our house. I mean go back to the farm.”
“But it’s been closed up for years.” His mother had passed away two years at the age of ninety-seven but the house was still in the family and empty.
“I don’t care. Call your sister and see if she will open up the house and turn on the water. I need to be.”
“Be what?”
“Be quiet, be still, be away, be on the porch, be whatever. Just call!”
“Be patient. I’ll call.” His sister agreed to dust, sweep, mop and turn on the water.

So it was decided. We were taking the two kids to my husband’s home where he grew up. Nothing was more fun than to go out to the farm even when were still teenagers. The reason? Well, for one, there were more kids out there than in the entire little town of Barry, Texas where I had lived. He had six brothers and sisters. Secondly, while his parents were always there, they pretty much left us alone…no bringing us cookies, tea, cokes, telling us what, when or where to go. Our kids could roam the farm and I could just be.

Forty-five years ago, I packed one suitcase, threw the beagle in the back of the truck, locked our college apartment, and we were off. Now, after three hours of packing diapers, clothing for four people, sheets, towels, food, cokes, rice milk, bug spray, swim suits, I was beginning to have second thoughts. However, the idea of spending another three hours unloading with no trip and no “be time” kept me going.

“Are you going to hook up the dual screen DVD players?” my husband asked without offering to do so.
“Of course. It’s a three hour trip.”

Not being a person of the electronic age, I struggled with the DVD player connections. The instructions were Greek to me. After seemingly hours of trying to interpret the instructions, I realized that, indeed the instructions were in Greek…and Spanish, French, Chinese, Swahili, and finally on the last page, English. Eventually, the connections were made, the children loaded and strapped down in car seats, and we were off. Just a few miles down the highway, the DVD player got stuck on the credits.

“Fix it!” demanded the two-year-old.
“It’s not playing. He broke it,” whined the five-year old.

My husband believes once the engine is engaged, you do not stop until you have reached your destination; therefore, I was forced to do acrobatics from the front seat in order to adjust the buttons on the DVD player. This was not a pretty sight and probably the cause for more than one oncoming eighteen wheeler to run into a ditch. Finally, the adjustments were made and we were able to listen to the same movie for three hours. I had only brought one movie.

When we turned into the driveway of the old farm house four hours later (potty stops were a must), it was exactly as I had remembered it that summer day. Well, except the porch railing had rotted away, the peach tree was no longer there, the pear tree was a gnarled stump, and the cedar bush was now a tree completely blocking the view from the porch. Ok, it wasn’t exactly as I remembered it. Still, I was anticipating windows open with the breeze blowing through the curtains and the smell of honeysuckle drifting through them just like in 1959 when we all came to hang out at the farm. Instead, it was 102 degrees, the air conditioners were running full blast, the windows were locked shut, the house smelled like it had been closed up for a year, and the honeysuckle bush had long ago dried up. Hiding my disappointment, I called out to the family (let them unload the car) I’m off to the front porch” and silently murmured “to be,” but first I decided to take a look around the old house.

As much as the place had changed on the outside, the inside had remained comfortably the same. The living room contained the same brown early American sofa. The old hard rock maple rocking chair that has soothed seven children and then twenty-two grandchildren to sleep was still in its customary spot by the front door. The cushions had been replaced and it had been refinished, but it was the same chair. The floor tilted slightly to the left as if the house was settling in and getting comfortable with age.

The kitchen was familiar. The Farmer’s Almanac calendar was hanging on the wall probably by the same nail used to hang the first one; only the year was different. There were notations written in the squares, rain gage full on the twenty-first, cows to auction on the thirtieth, call Billie on the thirty-first. Written voices from the past.

The yellow tulip McCall’s ceramic vase was still on the second corner shelf between the upper kitchen cabinet and the window by the kitchen sink where it had been for over fifty years. The plants had, of course, died, been replaced, died again, but the vase and its location remained constant. I opened the right upper cabinet doors. The shelves were lined with mismatched cups and saucers, some with chips and missing handles but still usable. Nothing was ever thrown away if it still had some use, lessons of the depression.

The wooden rectangle kitchen table with its scalloped edges and carved spindle legs was still standing, testament to early American craftsmanship. If it had ever had six matching chairs, I didn’t remember. The table had always been pushed near the back wall with a wooden bench the length of the table actually against the wall. The wooden bench seated more children than chairs could and had been polished smooth by the countless bottoms that had alternately scooted from one end to the other as children, then adults, then children again gathered at the “children’s table” for holiday meals and sometimes just everyday meals.

Overseeing the table, perched on top of the refrigerator was the cookie jar. The fat little ceramic pig with his faded red and white baseball cap had held cookies and goodies for four generations. I was glad that no one from the family had claimed it. It belonged right where it was.

Satisfying myself that all was as it should be with the old house, I made my way to the front porch and the swing. Time to “be.” That lasted about five seconds, just long enough for the kids to discover screened doors! It is now a proven fact that two children can run around the L shaped porch, through the two bedrooms, down the hall and back out onto the porch, slamming the two screened doors a total of thirty-two times in less than forty-five seconds.

“Honey,” I screamed sweetly.
“Ok, I know.” He halted the kids in mid-slam.
“Come over here and I’ll show you something I used to do when I was your age.”

The porch was covered with spider webs, well, except for those that had been destroyed by the screen door earthquakes. In the middle of the remaining spider webs were those large black and yellow spiders we called Cotton Spiders. My husband caught one of the two million grasshoppers in the yard and threw it into Charlotte’s web so the kids could see the spider quickly spin a web around the spider and suck out its guts. I was appalled; they were thrilled.

“Again, again!” came from the fascinated two-year-old.
“Catch another one. Throw two in there,” yelled the five-year-old ever hoping to instigate more sibling rivalry, even if the siblings were grasshoppers.

That immediately initiated a grasshopper catching frenzy. They wanted to feed all of the Charlottes on the porch. The two-year-old found a broom and started chasing grasshoppers and beating the )(*&*(#)*( out of one unfortunate grasshopper he happened to catch. So much for my peaceful time on the porch. Tomorrow morning I would get up early…before the kids…and sit on the porch.

` Nighttime brought on the quest for sleeping arrangements. The house had only three bedrooms. The middle bedroom had been his parents and was the central gathering place for everyone. It had the only TV and the dog had slept there for years. Now the room had only one twin bed and no dog…scratch that room for sleeping. The living room was reserved for the preacher and the insurance salesman when they came to call. I had planned to sleep in the back-bedroom but now there was only one full bed where there had been two. Three mattresses had been piled on top of the remaining full bed.

“Why don’t you put the two kids in here on this bed,” my husband suggested.
“Because,” I said as nicely as possible with visions of grasshopper guts still in my

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