Slice of Life 3: Home

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Typically a home is thought of as that place where one lives.  When you do not have a place to live, you are often known as homeless.  But what about those who must travel for their jobs?  Or leave their home to go somewhere else to do their job?  Do they have a home away from home?  A major home (permanent) and a minor home?

What really makes a home?

Is it the place, the things, or the people?  Some famous quotes about “home” include:

“Home is the nicest word there is.”
― Laura Ingalls Wilder
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“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.”
          ―  L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
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“Home wasn’t a set house, or a single town on a map. It was wherever the people who loved you were, whenever you were together. Not a place, but a moment, and then another, building on each other like bricks to create a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go.”
― Sarah Dessen, What Happened to Goodbye
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“The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”
― Maya Angelou, All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes
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“I don’t care if we have our house, or a cliff ledge, or a cardboard box. Home is wherever we all are, together,”
― James Patterson
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“Where we love is home,
Home that the feet may leave,
but not our hearts.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes
Where is my home?
If home is really where the heart is, then home is with the people.  That means I have had multiple homes including the houses where our family lived  as well as the farmstead where I grew up with my parents and brothers and sisters.
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But there is also the “home” that includes my parents and their siblings.  (Mom is from a family of ten while Dad had only one brother.) My godparents (Mom’s brother and wife) would also be significant members of that home.  They are fortunate to have been married for over 67 years.  The longevity in my mother’s family includes multiple aunts and uncles celebrating over 60+ years of marriage.  What a model for those of us in the next generations!
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When I think of this extended Ruth family, I have fond memories of visiting my grandma’s home when I was growing up. The smell of Sunday lunch. . . homemade everything . . . kolaches, noodles, and bread warm from the oven.  The sounds of laughter and kids everywhere (after all there were 56 of us first cousins). I can still see the peony bushes that marked the western property border, the pear tree that edged the garden, and the garage near the north alley with untold treasures in the second story.
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I was in graduate school when Grandma passed away. I had not yet had my own children nor begun to think about which family traditions to cling to tightly. But after many years our extended family still celebrates Christmas together. The Ruth cousins gather once a month for breakfast together.  Family and this “home” remains important.
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We shared stories about Grandma to celebrate her birth 117 years ago.  A teacher, a mother of ten, grandmother, great grandmother, and great great grandmother.  A remarkable woman who had time to listen to our stories and time to tell us stories.  A generous heart.  A life of love. A woman whose family gathered with and around her on a regular weekly basis.  This was a home that I carry in my heart everywhere!
What homes do you remember?  What defined your home?
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20 responses

  1. As I live, my definition of home changes…the one constant is love…where there is love, there is home. Your post reminded me of my childhood home! Thank you!

    1. Michele,
      You are welcome! I have been thinking a lot lately about the stages of life. Much to think about!

  2. I am so thankful that for me, the word “home” brings back only positive memories of past and present homes and family and love. As a foster and adoptive mother, I am burdened for those to whom “home” means mostly pain and loss and grief. I want to be known as someone who can help bring love into the definition of “home” for others.

    1. Cindy,
      What a great reminder that we would love for memories of “home” to be positive and include love. That mirrors my belief that memories of “school” should be equally positive and should parallel those same feelings of love and belonging!

  3. Such a rich and connected family life, Fran – so many memories of family togetherness. This sounds like my husband’s family, all witin the same few little Adirondack towns. My family was scattered around the globe, the family joke was that our family reunions were in airports! Have you heard this TED talk, Fran – Pico Iyer, on home. I passed it along to another slicer the other day :) :
    http://www.ted.com/talks/pico_iyer_where_is_home.html

    1. Tara,
      My immediate family is spread out . . . food for thought! Possible more writing. I can’t wait to listen to this talk!

      Thanks so much for sharing and for your support!

  4. Ooh, I love this Fran!

    As for my homes, there’s the one I grew up in, as well as my apartments in DC, NYC, and RI. The place I live in now truly feels like my home because my name is on the mortgage. However there are other places, like camp or the town we go to for a week in the summertime, that feel like home too.

    1. Stacey,
      I so appreciate your comments!

      Funny that a mortgage “feels like a home” as there are so many “ways” for a “home” to really be a home!

      (Not to spoil – but tomorrow’s post is connected. I am planning two blog posts at a time!)

      As a first year “Slicer,” I am still very anxious about this daily blogging! :-)

  5. Hi Fran, being a teacher in an international school, this is a big concept. In German we use two different terms. ‘Heimat’ is where your roots are. I left that area 20 years ago but still feel a strong connection and love being back in an environment that holds many positive and strong memories. ‘Zuhause’ is where you feel at home. For me that was always where I was able to create my own space, making a place mine, a place that felt comforting after a challenging day at work. I have friends in both places (and other places), but my ‘heimat’ is no longer my ‘zuhause’ because I am always just a visitor. Does that make sense?

    1. Alex,
      Love this thinking! So I have one ‘Heimat’ but can I have many ‘Zuhauses?’ There are many places that I feel at home!

  6. A very thoughtful post, today. At least you are making me think. Your description of your family gatherings reminded me of mine in Wisconsin.

    1. Well, Wisconsin does border Iowa so it could be similar! It was so fun to introduce my daughter-in-law to the family at Christmas! We are this big, noisy bunch!

      Thanks for stopping by AND commenting!

  7. I loved reading about your memories of your Grandmother, Fran. The Holmes quote sums it up perfectly, I think. “Where we love is home.” Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Thanks, Catherine. That quote is my personal favorite as well!

  8. The Maya Angelo quote hits me right now, “The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” Home can seem less of a place, more of an emotional structure. But as Michelle says, definitions of home changes as time goes on. Hearing about your family, such riches you grew up with. 56 first cousins! Amazing. And what a great tradition to celebrate your grandmother’s birthday.

  9. Hmmm. Home. I’m a single mom, a recent empty nester. The home we have lived in as a family no longer feels very homey. At the same time, we are dismantling the home my mom has lived in for twenty years to move her into assisted living. And I’m struggling to redefine home.

  10. […] Yesterday, Fran wrote about memories of home and her grandmother. This got me thinking of some pieces I’ve written about my own grandmother. Maybe I’ll reread them and polish one so it’s ready to share. […]

    1. Oh, I hope you do! The ideas that have come to mind after reading other posts is one of the most positive results of this “Slice of Life Challenge 2014.”

  11. […] for a poem about my grandmother. Then Fran McVeigh shared memories of her grandmother for her Slice of Life Challenge post earlier this week, and her slice prompted me to go back and revise this […]

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