For years I dreamt of having a house. A place to call my own. Out of this desire, I’ve always tried to make any room, no matter how small, into a home. This is true whether it’s been a dorm room, a field station bunk bed, or an office in my parents’ house. I created comfortable places, surrounded by my stories, but also places where others could visit and tell theirs.
After a while the dream of owning a house faded. I secretly enjoyed living in small spaces within a community – whether that be family or school. In these homes within a home I had the freedom to travel and to change jobs since I didn’t have to bear the responsibilities of keeping up a house. I also had the comfort of knowing that other people were around. I felt safe.
Now, after giving up that dream, I find myself with a house and a bundle of fears. I wonder about traveling away from this place for any length of time and having something break down or fall apart. I worry that the finances won’t be there to keep it up. I’m also concerned that I may spend too much time alone now that no one lives down the hall. All this on top of the deep grief I feel at the loss of my mother who wanted me to care for this house.
However, I inherited more than a building. This was the home she and my father had purchased for their retirement. They wanted a place that welcomed people for meals and was grandchild friendly. Children, grandchildren, family members, and many friends were the lifeblood of this place. Every surface in the living room – the mantel, dining room hutch, curio cabinet, and bay window shelf – was full of photographs, each an image of dear friends and family. So whether the dining room table was surrounded with family for a birthday celebration or my mom and I were sitting down to a simple meal, the lives of the people my mom and dad loved were always evident. Some of my mom’s last words centered on the joy she knew in having had a lovely family and a lovely home. And it truly was a home for many people.
Even though I am thankful for this gift, this is not the house I dreamt about owning, and definitely not the way I wanted it to come about. I wanted my mother to be part of helping set up a house as she brought a peace lily for the front table or made curtains for the bedroom. I wanted my father to help paint rooms and plant trees. But, I don’t have that dream, I have a building – and I have the legacy of my parents. So, I’ve decided to celebrate the lives my parents lived in this place by remembering their spirits through my own expressions of home.
The multitude of photographs are now put away and the frames are ready to be filled with other images. The space is ready for new memories. Into this home I invite friends, family, and guests to fill it with their lives and creativity.
- A place of story and transformation.
- A pilgrimage way station.
- A writers’ retreat. A shelter.
- A place to feast on life.
These ideas come from my mother and father who encouraged their children to dream and grow. They read to us, provided us with marvelous opportunities, and surrounded us with love and faith. Out of this soil I am eager to revisit that dream of having a house and to become the active creator, instead of the passive recipient, of the blessings of home.
A lovely home.