Being a military family means being away from people that you love, and being away from the places that you thought would always be ‘home.’ No matter where we’re stationed, we aren’t close to family or the familiar. We just can’t be.
On top of that, we’ve both lost a parent. The word “home” changes dramatically when your mom or dad isn’t alive to be in that space anymore. And the changes that come about because of that loss can leave one feeling even more displaced. Even more ‘homeless.’ It’s part of life going on and you accept it and even try to embrace it, but it is also a loss.
Husband and I spend hours some days talking about little things from ‘back home.’ Things like favorite treats or meals that only come from those regions of the country, or from specific restaurants. For him it’s Ski, and Wally Burgers, and malts from the Dairy King, and his Dad’s lattice cherry pies, and his Mom’s sugar cookies. For me it’s Steak-n-Shake, and Club 41 onion rings, and Quinn’s crinkly cheese fries, and Mom’s cheese cookies, and Dad’s ‘tube steaks’ on the grill in the summertime.
And then there are places we miss and remember… For him the old blacksmith shop that stayed in business until just a few years ago…. Or the hardware store where he and his family were known by name and each trip to the store resulted in not only a tool or building materials, but a good chat and input on the project he was undertaking as well…. or the yard of the Catholic School nearby where he used to go play after the kids had gone home, or the front yard where the flagpole they got for their Dad stood. For me it’s the curve of the hill going down to cedar crick (yes, I said crick), shopping at Hi-lo where I know where everything is because the aisles haven’t changed (or the tiles on the floor for that matter) in decades, the back-roads to my grandma’s house, the bank of the pond, the lane I walked up and down to get to the ‘bus stop’ every single morning and afternoon, the old, red water pump in my grandparents’ yard–or at least the spot where it used to stand.
We spend hours remembering those places and longing for those tastes, and it dawned on me the other day why that might be.
Those are pieces of home. They are pieces of places that aren’t home anymore or that will never be home in the same way again. They are moments with our Moms and Dads, and moments when we took it for granted that our Moms and Dads were around.
So we gather them up, and remember them. When we’re back in those areas, we visit those places, or eat our special goodies, and we feel like we’re a little closer–to home, to our parents, to the times and places that were before.
We’re trying to get back home. And I guess we always will be.
And now, we focus on making our ‘home’ wherever we are…. for Little Miss and for Ingrid, and also for us. It’s what you’ve gotta do with life.