I took our kitten, Rossfeld, outside to play for the first time since we adopted him some six months ago. My maternal instincts kicked in with fear for his safety, and the accompanying thought that I really don’t want him to leave home. I’m not ready for that to happen. So I picked him up several times, hugged and petted him, telling him (yes, talking to my cat) to be careful and watch out for cars.
It should be no surprise that I’m a cat lover. In my home of origin we had lots of cats over the years, and I loved every one. Here I am today, clinging to this kitten that I allowed outside to play, to explore. He stayed out for about fifteen minutes, then chose to come back inside, safe and sound, to his sanctuary. In here he can watch those birds and squirrels from the safety of a window sill, with a bit of screen or glass to keep him in, protected.
A part of home goes with us when we leave, like it or not. I hope that we take with us a deep sense of love and belonging, but, sadly, I know this is not always the case. Many of us will, however, take and carry on some traditions of home, a favorite meal, a certain routine, a way of arranging our spaces, and sometimes even the faith tradition that molded and shaped us. There are those who shut the door, step out into the world and never look back, while some keep the key and are welcomed back any time. For myself, a healthy mix of all these sentiments is what I experienced. When it was time to go I tried to take the best of what I learned, but was ready to spread my wings and fly.
Leaving home is not like leaving the house to go to the store, or for a walk, or to work, and it’s not the same as taking a vacation. Leaving home is not always about a house or apartment, or condo, or any structure where you have existed and slept and ate. That’s because home is not always a well defined place.
Home is Sanctuary, where love and belonging draw you in and hold you, a place created by those who love us as we are. Home is dynamic, changing in each phase of our lives, changing as we ourselves change.
Leaving Home in 1973, at the age of 18 was relatively easy because I was ready to move on and move out…and I only moved a few blocks away as a young newlywed. I may not have lived under the same roof, but I was in the same small town as my own family….a blessing that I did not appreciate until I grew up a bit.
But many years later, in 1998, Leaving Home was much harder than I imagined it would ever be, because I was a different person. I had been married, had two wonderful children, divorced, and later remarried. I had seen my grandparents live a full life and die there, watched as my own parents made a move to a different state to live out the rest of their lives. Love had found it’s way into my heart again, much to my surprise. My own children had grown up where I had, gone on to college, my son was living away from home already, and my daughter chose to continue her life there, as I left for another state, too, with my husband. Everyone I knew, all the people who had been there and seen us through life to that point, those who loved and gave us that sense of belonging were staying…and I was leaving. Gut wrenching is the phrase that comes to mind.
I wonder if we Leave Home by degrees, just a little bit at a time. Recently I have decided that my Chatty Baby doll is going to have to be recycled. She is broken and not fixable. I have held on to her for all these years because I wanted to remember being that happy child, playing dolls, playing mommy. But reality, actually being a real Mommy to a son and daughter who are amazing young people…nothing can top that.
Having a home as a child where I could play and pretend and see love in action is a priceless treasure. Letting go of the doll is another bit of letting go, of Leaving Home.
|Songs of the West Album|
I found out about this project from my friend Kara, after reading her beautiful writing yesterday. The Scintilla Project gives writing prompts for about 2 weeks, and today challenges us to write about a memory triggered by a particular song.
There are so many contemporary songs that bring into focus some important events.
- Enya’s “Only Time” takes me back to the fall of 2011, after the Twin Towers were destroyed and when so much of life seemed uncertain.
- There are hymns sung in church that make me think of my grandparents, and I see the tears in my grandma’s eyes when her favorite was sung.
- A Carpenter’s Christmas Album brings to mind the holidays spent as a young mother with two beautiful children waiting for the day to open presents.
- And the Navy Hymn brings up all the memories surrounding the assassination of Present Kennedy when I was just in third grade. Yes, songs trigger memories…lots of them.
As a young girl I had some favorite records I listened to, both 45’s
and 33’s. Some were my own, some my sister’s, and quite a few belonged
to my parents. Simon and Garfunkel, the Carpenters, The Association,
these were a few of those that I played over and over. My parents would
often play selections by the the Norman Luboff Choir, the Sons of the Pioneers, the New Christy
Minstrels, Tennessee Ernie Ford, and numerous albums in those Reader’s
Digest boxed collections. I have to confess that I almost wore out these albums, playing them after I got home from school a lot.
I loved being surrounded by this music.
Somehow, in recent years, a few of those albums have come into my
possession. A couple years ago we purchased a new turntable that has a
USB connection, and with the addition of some software, it is very simple to convert some of those vinyl
albums into MP3 files. Though I have only converted a couple of albums,
I know that I can always do more of the same. But I found that it is
just a nice to simply listen to the vinyl albums on the record player
|Songs of the West Album Cover|
One song on my parent’s old album really takes me back. It’s “Cool
Water”, from the album “Songs of the West” by the Norman Luboff Choir, released in 1955. This was an album often played in my childhood home,
especially in the evening when we had a fire burning in the fireplace. When I read the writing prompt for this project, it did not take long for the album cover itself and the song to come to my mind.
I can recall laying on pillows on the carpeted floor,
staring at the fire, enjoying the faint smell of the wood smoke, the pop and crackle of the
burning wood, feeling the red hot glow of the embers beneath the logs. And Dad would often hum along, in his deep bass voice, sharing in the harmonies of the music playing on the record player.
This was a secure, warm, loving place to be. Home. Where imagination could soar, where we could relax and be safe, where we knew we were loved, and where music was taught, shared, sung, and enjoyed by all of us. I realize more and more just how fortunate I am to have this treasure.