Sunday, June 7, 2015


The cliche
home is where the heart is
does not begin to really explain what the word home means.

My mother used to say that anyone with money can buy a fancy house or buy expensive furniture, but  not everyone can make a home.  I always think of that when I go to some homes that seem to be so lacking in a feeling of home even as they are filled with all the "trappings" of home.  There might be just the right selection of furniture, family photos smile down from the walls, and it is obvious to the observer or guest to the "home" that great care was taken to make a pleasant impression when one walks through the door, yet I come away cold not sensing that I have not been in a home, a real home where one can actually live, be oneself, be peaceful and content.  Sometimes these homes seem full of striving for something more grand in appearance, or perhaps things seems just a bit too stilted for my own comfort zone of what I need to feel when I am home.

What makes a home? 

Should one search for the perfect house, or should one find home in the house where one lives?  
Does the house create the home?  
We all long for home, but sometimes home is elusive.
We aren't quite sure what turns a house into a home.
Is the cliche correct?  
If so, how does a place become a place where a heart lives?

When Jim and I married, I moved into his home.  That was one of the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life.  I knew very early in the marriage that I would never be able to be at home in the house he had lived in prior to our marriage no matter how much I tried.  His home was a lovely home, and it had been carefully decorated and well cared for, but it was not my home.  It was not the home he and I had created together.  

Thankfully, a few years after our marriage, we were able to find a home that would become our home.  I looked and looked for the perfect house for us to buy before we bought it.  I wanted it to be a grandparent  house where we would build memories for our grandchildren.  It needed to be big enough so we could have multiple families spend the night.  I even told Jim we could have weddings for daughters in the backyard if we found the right house.  

I knew I had found the right house the minute I stepped on this front porch. As I walked through the door, I was already saying to myself, "This is it."
 Porch Love
Jim & Sally celebrating Jim's surprise 60th birthday party on our front porch
We bought the house and turned it into our home.  We even hosted two beautiful weddings for two of our daughters in the back yard.  It was a wonderful experience turning this house into a home.  We remodeled by tearing out old bathrooms and putting in new ones.  We put in new windows.  We tore down old paneling.  We updated it from a dark 70's style house into a more bright and modern decor.  We put in a new sprinkling system, built a new patio, added a second patio, added a shed, and built flower beds where I could dig in the dirt to my heart's content.  We had many Thanksgiving, Christmas,  and Easter celebrations with the family here.  Cousins had sleepovers.  The kids jumped on the trampoline.  We watched our children and grandchildren grow up in this home.  We had much joy and the deepest of sorrows while we lived in this house.  It was to be our retirement home.  We fixed it just like we wanted it so we could sit on our front porch and grow old together in the home we built together.  It was our dearly loved home.  

Then, one day, the home we loved did not seem to fit us anymore.  Jim had a heart attack.  I fell down our basement stairs and had a head injury.  The kids all lived far away from us.  Our doctors were mostly in the town forty miles north of us.  The yard seemed to be too big to care for, and I could not keep up with the weeds, the dead-heading.  The laundry room was two flights of stairs from the bedrooms.  The bedrooms were all upstairs.  Like it or not, we were not getting any younger.  We began to talk about buying a patio home that would require less upkeep.  We wanted one level living.  Once we really were retired, we realized our vision of the home we would live in for retirement had changed.  

We decided to sell our home and make a drastic (for us) move to a town where Jim had never lived that was actually my hometown.  This town was where our doctors were.  Two of Jim's daughters lived there.  We were closer to my daughter and Jim's other daughter.  We were closer to the airport for the children living out of state.  

All of this process was begun three years ago this summer.  Jim surprised me by being so upbeat about moving away from a town where he had lived since he was a young child.  Once the decision was made to sell the house, I became the one unable to let go of my home.  Even today, my heart still lives in that house.  I see photos of the many gatherings in the house and my heart always breaks just a little for the place.

It is no secret that we both have had a hard time adjusting to our new home.  Jim had a hard time adjusting to living in a new town, but he made it an adventure.  He even ventured out and started a new career by working at the Apple store.  I stepped right back into the church home where I made so many friends years ago before I married Jim.  I loved being close to my cousins again.  I loved being home in my hometown.  We both loved the location of our home and still marvel how fortunate we are to live where we do.

I have had the harder time making this house my home.  I have found one can't make the old dearly loved home fit into the new home.  I'm slowly adjusting to making this house the space that brings comfort to me.  I miss the study I had in the old house.  I miss the family room.  I miss that front porch.  I miss my shed.  I miss the flowers.  I miss the roses the most.  I've not had an easy time adjusting to living in a patio home community.  I have issues with the HOA rules.  The wildlife eat my flowers and plantings and frustrate me.  Let's just say, I've had a tough time letting go of the home I loved no matter how much I love this new place, and I do love it.

Every once in a while, I call Mary Jo, my long suffering realtor.  Sometimes she meets Jim and me for lunch.  Sometimes, she meets me for coffee, and we have the best talks.  She is one of the great things that came with this house: a new friendship.  I've called her and asked if she can show me a house that I've seen advertised.  Her first question is always, "What does Jim say?"  "He tells me he will miss me if I move."  

Last week Jim and I drove way out east of town to buy flowers for the yard.  I decided to try again with beating the wildlife by growing a few things in my small flower gardens.  On our way to the nursery, Jim started exploring and took a detour.  Before we knew it, we were looking at new homes. They were patio homes that had all the features we suddenly wished we had in our home.  Of course, we hadn't known we'd wanted them until we saw them in the new homes.  Jim said, "Call Mary Jo tomorrow and see what she can get for our house."  I told him that I was telling her that it was Jim's idea to call.  He was the one that started this house hunt that we had not intended to make.

Then, we got real.  We hated where the houses were located.  We didn't really need all that room.  We knew we would never survive another move.  We knew our kids would think we had really lost it if we even mentioned we were moving.  We knew our hearts were firmly planted where we now live. We came and went for a walk.  "I can't ever leave this area," I said to Jim.  

 We love this place.  We love our location.  We love our home.  Yes, it is not perfect.  Yes, I get frustrated with not being able to grow much because of the wildlife.  The bottom line is:  we would never be able to leave this place.  We have the most awesome places to walk.  We live in a quiet valley at the foothills of the mountains.  We have wonderful neighbors.  It is peaceful and quiet here.  We don't have to mow or water the lawn.  We live in a perfect retirement home.

Today, after church and nice brunch downtown, we went to our favorite ice cream shop not far from our home.  Then we went for a walk where we again marveled at our views.  We asked ourselves how we could ever even think of leaving this place.  

Tonight I sat on our back deck and read while Jim went to a meeting at work.  The cool breezes coming down from the mountains soothed my heart and mind.  As I glanced up from my book, I saw the clouds in the sky were turning a light pink with touches of gray here and there.  The sky, a light baby blue, provided the perfect softened effect for the background of my view.  I heard birds in the distance as the wind softly rustled the aspen leaves on the trees that framed the deck where I was sitting.  I felt as if I had taken a short mountain vacation without ever leaving my home.  The city is fewer than ten minutes away, yet I live in a place that feels like a mountain retreat.

I am blessed beyond measure.
I live in this place with the man I love.

My heart lives here.
I am home.