Memories are funny things. A memory can make us laugh, make us cry, make us sad, or make us glad.
Has the sound of a dryer ever made you want to cry? It happened to us this weekend. During a trip back to my old hometown for a university homecoming, we drove by my old home. After the deaths of my parents and the re-marriage of my mom's second husband, the little house where I grew up was sold.
Thirty-two years my family owned it.
I grew up there. Dreamed my dreams there. Brought the Pilot Guy home to meet my folks. Mourned my Dad's passing. Brought my two infant sons there to spend time with my mom. Held my mother's hand as she died. When I closed the door for the final time, it was an emotionally wrenching moment.
The Pilot Guy and I drove slowly down the street. There had been so many changes in the landscaping. We could tell that someone had put some effort into fixing up the place. The current owners peeked out the windows, watching us in our van. I guess we had been there more than the moment we planned on.
Hoping to reassure them, we hopped out of the van and told them that I grew up there. For many minutes we stood in the yard where I played with my model horses and where I gardened with my mother. We chatted about the changes in the landscaping. How they had to remove the massive fruitless mulberry that had been in the yard for nearly forty years. After a few mintues, I suppose they realized we weren't thieves casing the joint and asked if I'd like to see the inside of the house.
Yes, I said, I would love to. I was a little scared to go in. Not of them, of course, such a nice couple, but of the memories that those walls held. But it wasn't too much at all. In fact, it was fun to see the loving attention that had gone into the place. A door had been closed off (and I remember when my mother opened that wall up. LOL) New tile and carpet. A pretty French door closed off my mother's old studio, now filled with a Hot Wheels collection. The kitchen had been cleverly expanded, too. As they showed us the changes to the laundry area, I heard the dryer running.
For a moment, it sounded just like my mother's house should. I had to swallow the huge lump in my throat. Both the Pilot Guy and I laughed through some tears later about how that dryer running sounded like HOME.
I was delighted to see all the improvements. Surprisingly, seeing the house in such a happy state eased some of the hurt and sense of loss that I've lived with for the last few years.
Even though we have a wonderful home here, even though we will always call the Pilot Guy's family farm home, that little house on the Great Plains of Texas will always be one of my two childhood homes...the one where I grew up and spent the most time. I was fortunate to have a family to make that stack of lumber, sheetrock, brick and mortar into a home. Without the family and love, it is just a house.
Home is a lovely word, isn't it?