Finding a Family and a Home of My Own
Home...A Place Where Life Can Flourish
Home is where your story begins.— unknown
Grab a cup of coffee...sit back and relax...this may take a while.
Growing up in a family with a Momma and Daddy who were probably my most favorite people on the planet, I did not know that others did not grow up in a home with a family that was not lovely like mine.
When I went to college for the first time I heard others say they hated their parents. I could not imagine that How anyone could not love their parents was something I could not understand
Many of these young women that were in college with me did not go home at vacation time. They would travel to Bermuda, the Bahamas, or Ft. Lauderdale. Again I could not understand that mindset.
Throughout my four years of undergraduate studies I remained painfully homesick and wanted to be in the arms of my family at our home in Florida.
This House in Florida was our Home for 20 Years
What can you do to promote world peace?
Go home and love your family.— Mother Teresa
Home is not a place but a state of mind, a feeling that reconnects us to what is fundamentally important in our lives...whatever that may be.
For many of us it is a lovely memory. And for me, time has a way of making memories even more vivid and full of wonder than they were the first time I experienced them. When I recall memories of home as a child, no horrid frightening memories rush to mind.
Unhappy things did happen but they were handled in such a way that neither my sisters nor I were imprinted with doom and gloom surrounding those events.
Home to me as a child was a loving, safe, carefree kind of existence. I was sheltered from much, maybe too much. It does not seem I was permanently scarred by that.
Our Home No Longer....Gone are the Beautiful Flowers, Shrubs, and Many of the Stately Pines
"After All My Running, I'm Finally Coming Home..."
The lyrics to Coming Home are express so well some of how I feel about HOME.
"It's a four letter word
a place you go to heal your hurt
It's an alter, it's a shelter
One place you're always welcome
a pink flamingo, double wide
One bedroom in a high rise
a mansion on a hill
Where the memories always will
keep you company
whenever you're alone
after all of my running
I'm finally coming
Home a complex set of feelings and thoughts and memories for each of us.
You can find the rest of the lyrics on line and on youtube.
(If you have seen this movie you know it has a sad ending. For me, the song is so beautiful and powerful that I do not think of it as part of the movie when I hear it. )
Little Grandson Watching a Train Approach at His Home
Finding Out About Homes and Families of Others
Over the years the definition of home evolved for me. The meaning it had for me, the place it had for me in my life, remained the same. Hadn’t everyone always seen home the same way as I did?
How could it be different from what I knew?
I never really thought about how the answer to that question would be life changing for me.
A Porch Swing Says HOME...
Places and Spaces
My first home was along the waters just off the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia. It was a one story building---a kitchen, a breakfast nook, a laundry room with an ante room just before it where a large ironing machine was kept, and just beyond the laundry room was a tiny sitting room with a fireplace that was rarely used for anything but storage.
Back through the kitchen there was a tiny room where the refrigerator and several cabinets used to store bottled flavorings for baking, flour, sugar, and spices.
Back up for a second and exit the kitchen going east led to a rectangular enclosed porch. The shiny polished cement floor was perfect there as when we entered our sandy or muddy shoes made the mess there rather than in the house proper.
It was a room where much of my time was spent. On this porch there was a built in bed, twin bed size. Above and directly across from it were built in bookcases with books on many topics, books of all sizes and shapes were waiting to be read.
There were also cabinets just below the largest section of bookcases which held whatever we could not find somewhere else in our home.
Up two steps just off the porch was the entrance to the bathroom. It was an ample size with a sink, toilet, bathtub, and a second door that led into the rest of the house.
You could go into the house from the porch through a doorway that was beside the bed and that was how guests and visitors to our home would enter to visit or dine or both.
After you entered through this door off the porch, you were in the dining room. A cozy friendly room that housed a walnut dining table and six ladder back chairs. There was a cabinet that had been built to hold china plates and gravy boats and cups and saucers. Things that were passed from one generation to another. I have some of the plates still in my possession today.
The room was flooded with light as there were windows on two sides of the room …windows that allowed us to view the Creek and the gorgeous plentiful flowers Momma grew.
Discovering what HOME really is
That was what I called home. And I never gave it a second thought that others may not live that way. Safe, warm, happy, comfortable.
Many of my friends had houses that were much fancier and more lavish than ours, filled with the most up- to- date appliances (we had the old agitator washing machine and we had a large copper tub we filled to rinse clothing in)---and my, O, my did those clothes get sparkling clean. And furniture of the latest styles most of it covered in plastic---they really did not want you to sit on it, I don’t think!!There did not seem to be any more joy their homes…so I did see later that home is not about the THINGS at all. It is about the love, the kindness, the thoughtful ways to treat one another. It is so deeply tied to our family that there is, to me, no clear dividing line between the two.
Still more...Damsels, Princes, Dragons
The living room and dining room flowed together. The dining room held our coal stove (till I was 15 when central heat came to our home), two couches, and several comfortable chairs one of them a wing back chair that is shown in this article that my baby grandson still likes to sit in to read a book.
There were three bedrooms side by side that ran the east side of our home. The one in the center was my Momma and Daddy’s, the one to the left was my sister's who was seven years older than me, and the one to the right of theirs was mine (until my sister who was still living at home left to marry at age 17). Her room then became my room and my old room was now another guest bedroom.
As you came out of my bedroom there was a very large closet (what you would call a walk in closet to day) that was filled with dresses, suits, sweaters, pants, slacks, coats, and boxes of hats and gloves. I loved to go in to that closet and poke around to see something I might have missed the last time I explored.
Walking back through the living room and out of the north door was a second porch that too with a cement floor.
It too was bathed in the sun’s rays most of the day. We loved our sunshine to light up our world .
Why would I describe the 'house' I lived in as a child in such detail? It is because that house became my home ...each room, each secret corner was filled with the magic that still has the power over me to wrap me in the love and joy that I felt as the young girl who lived there.
It is still the place that my heart calls home. Other houses have become HOME to me---my first HOME is the one most treasured.
This is a glimpse at the place I called home for .my first 18 years. O did I forget to tell you of the fanciful door into 'my' Narni that was in my first bedroom?
At the far corner of my bedroom, tucked up out of plain view, there was a square cut in the wall …about 3 feet by 2 feet. It led to my parents’ room. When I was playing with my friends often we would make a detour through this opening as we traveled through that opening.
No longer was my parents' room on the other side---- we imagined and experienced adventures beyond compare when we landed on the other side of the space.
Wonderfully fanciful flights of fancy unfolded as we sat on the throw rug by my parents’ bed and made up tales of damsels and their princes who were yet to come. And fire-breathing dragons who scorched the earth around us.
For me, home and family is a place where I learned to be my best self. And, when I would slip and maybe miss the mark, those who are there care enough and love me enough to help me pick up my pieces and try to help you put yourself back together. It remains true even today.
My homes changed over the years as they do. My family moved from my first home in Virginia to a house in Florida which became my second home.
Years passed and I lived in different houses and some of them were home and some a place to hang my hat, park my bones, and back up and regroup for a bit.
Homes of Others
My first teaching position was in Albany, Georgia, in 1971. The school I taught in was in an area that was economically challenged. Survival was where the emphasis was in most homes. Education was not number one.
It was not even number two.
Many Kids came to school so they could eat lunch. It was one meal they could count on each day. Poverty was the way of life they knew. Home to them was a place far different from where I had grown up.
But was their home. It was the place they returned to each day to spend time with their families.
Family Having Fun Together
As the years have passed I have found, I am increasingly more like Dorothy (of Wizard of Oz fame)...
I am certain there is no place like home.
Visiting a Child's Home...
Shortly after school began that first year of teaching, one child was not coming to school much and when he was there he had almost quit trying.
My thought was I would visit his home. And I did. And again a new definition of home.
When I got to the doorway of the tiny single family dwelling I was greeted by an elderly gray haired woman who had her hair pulled up at the base of her neck and caught there with a hair pin. She was wearing a cotton dress which I don’t remember well but over that was a stark white apron with large pockets.
She invited me in and when I stepped in I was so surprised but tried not to show it.
“O, you will have to pardon me. I was just sweeping up before Tiny (that’s what she called her grandson) gets home.”
That is not so remarkable except she was sweeping dirt. The floor of the dwelling was dirt; hard loamy dirt.
That was the only odd thing about this home. It was immaculate in every way. Sparsely furnished but everything was dusted and neat and orderly.
And Grandmother was kind and friendly and trying to do the best she could by her grandson.
Another new way for me to understand what home meant.
The Kitties' Home in North Georgia ---They Do Let My Niece and Her Husband Share It.
South Dakota Home
Our home in South Dakota was a brand spanking new mobile home. But again our home was much more than just the dwelling…it was also a gathering place for our friends, those that we worked with and played. who became our South Dakota family ... we were so still so far from our Momma and Daddies and sisters and brothers..
Time passed and my husband and I no longer remained married.
The glue that held that family and home together just did not bond all of the units together well enough.
Our Family and Home in Japan
When I lived in Japan for four years with my daughter and husband, my home was much more than a dwelling.
My home became not only the dwelling but included the group of friends in addition to my husband and daughter who we worked and played with while we were abroad. We shared our ups and downs, highs and lows. We became family to each other while the rest of our family was Stateside. Being so far away from home, many of us were homesick but embracing our adopted family helped ease our longing.
A Van Much Like This One was Home to My Daughter, Grandson, and Me for a Time
Adversity Built Our Endurance
Would I change that part of our history?
Not sure that I would. It was such an important learning experience. IT was humbling and uplifting at the same time.
It was when Angels began to appear in our lives…the celestial Angels and the human Angels who helped make our life easier and helped us to get out of the van and into a more stable dwelling.
Our "Moblie" Home...
My daughter and I lived our lives together for many years after that. As time does, it slipped away too quickly, my daughter married and moved away.
Her marriage did not survive and it turned out badly. She tried to divorce and when she did her husband became a stalker. We moved and moved and moved to try to get away from him. Finally she was able to file for divorce but he continued to stalk us causing us to live a life on the road for a number of years.
I had to stop teaching and we headed out in a van that eventually broke down. That became our home for longer than we care to remember.
But it was home. It was a roof over our heads. A place where my daughter, my grandson (Now 19) and I lived.
It was a safe haven, full of love, a place to hang our hats, and our hearts.
Living that experience once again changed who I would become. It seemed I have been forever evolving and still am.
We were homeless by all of society’s definitions but not in our eyes. We had each other. We were survivors and this would not last.
And it did not.
Ten Years Ago, Members of Our Family at Our Reunion
Evolving Home/Family Structure
The meaning of Home and Family changed over the years.
For some, it is an affront to some to even suggest that a family is anything other than a Momma and Daddy and the Children.
At one time in my life, much younger much less wiser me, I had a preconceived idea of what a home and family was.
But thankfully over the years I learned that it does not mean the same to all. And it is not my place to define it in a certain way for anyone.
As a teacher I watched families emerge in a much different way than I had been raised. The families came to me over the years in ways that reflected the emergent new family structure that some find difficult to accept.
Families were now: grandmother and children, grandfather and children, daddy and children, two mommies and children, two daddys and children. One mommy and children. And mommy and daddys who were foster care parents---many of which who became the eventual parents of those children.
Visiting Families as a Parent Advocate
Home evolved but still remains for many a safe, comfortable place to be.
When I was in my forties I worked for a school system as a parent advocate for parents. I made many home visits to homes that were in areas that were dangerous and where I was not really welcome initially. Eventually I came to be accepted as it was discovered I was not there to look down upon anyone but to help the children in the area to learn to do well in school and to help families receive help from the agencies that they needed.
One home was designated as ‘homeless’ because it was a motel. A seedy, unkempt, motel that should have been condemned.
But it was their home. It was all they had.
The day I went to visit because the first grade girl and boy in the family had not been attending school it was a sunny but cold January morning.
A Very Humbling Home Visit
I knocked on the door of their room. After minutes of waiting, the little girl of the family, Alice, we will call her, opened the door. Dressed in a thin cotton dress, she smiled at me and asked me to come inside. She knew me, everyone knew me at the school.
As I waited to be invited farther in a voice from around the corner asked me to come on around. There in the corner sat the Momma and Daddy and the little boy.
The bathroom door was open and was filled to overflowing with dishes covered with caked on food that was now moldy.
The mattresses they sat upon on the floor were black and there were no sheets on them. Roaches were crawling on the dirty walls.
Humbled and Rudely Awakened
My mind was reeling but I did not allow any of what I was thinking show on my face: How can they live like this? This is NOT living, I thought.
This was a rude awakening for me....a 'welcome to the not-so-pretty' side of the world. This ws not Easy Street.
It was such an humbling experience to find myself welcomed into the home of those who cherished their privacy.
I explained that the school had sent me to see if the children were okay. They explained their absence away with some excuse that I no longer recall.
They did say they needed food and that they had no running water, no electricity. It was obvious that there was no electricity as it was dark in the room, only one window, and it was covered with a shade. I understood why the dishes were stacked, unwashed.
My job included helping families in their situation to find sources that would assist them in their time of need. And that is another story, for another day.
The point of recounting this experience here is that as bad as it was: it was HOME.
Not one they wanted to stay in forever, but it was shelter from the rain and the sun. And the family was together.
More Surprises Awaited When I Visited Homes
Another home I visited during the three years I worked for this school system was located off of the very busy US 1 in Daytona Beach.
I pulled up into the driveway where there were three men talking, holding guns, and in the company of a dog that was barking wildly and straining on the chain he was hooked up to and seemed to very much want a bite of me. Even before I was out of my car.
This was not a good idea I was thinking. But it was too late. I was THERE.
So I got out and pretended like I was totally unaffected by the scene in which I now found myself. Me, There in a rayon dress and high heels. I felt naked.
I asked to speak to Mr. So and So and was told he was still inside
O, My....Was I in for a Surprise...
They pointed toward the door and told me to go on up. I did. And I tapped on the door and soon it was opened.
And there in his briefs, that’s all, his briefs stood Mr. So and So who invited me in as if he entertained all of his guests in his underpants.
Again I am thinking this is not good. But I was there.
We stepped further into the house and there to my right was a mountain, at least 8 or 9 feet high, of dirty clothes!!! I hope my eyes did not open wide….they did just now as I recalled this.
When I explained why I was there he listened intently, as he tugged on a pair of jeans, and told me, he would be at school the next day. He obviously loved his kids and cared about them so very much.
Actually the rest of the meeting escapes me--- once again this was HOME to two of our children, a place they gladly went to each day…to someone who clearly loved them very much if he was a bit unconventional.
Found: A Home and a Family of My Own
Family and home are so closely entwined that it is very close to impossible to separate the two.
My family may be worlds apart from what your experience has been. In some cases friends become as much family as our flesh and blood family. Sometimes we do not know our natural family for one reason or another.
I found my family through each stage of my life ...and I have more than one family now.
My family whom I met at the school where I taught my last eight years; my church family, and most precious of all are my relatives who make my life brand new every day.
My HOMES have become more filled with the people who make my life complete than any possessions ever will
© 2015 Patricia Scott