Friday, September 16, 2011

Going Home

I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on our trip to Europe and what I learned from that adventure. Plenty I would say. Since I’ve come home I’ve tried to expand on all that wonderful French and British history I soaked up across the pond. I realized I have so much to learn! There isn’t enough time to squeeze it all in. I can be on the phone on hold and will Google something I saw on the trip and read more about it. I can’t get enough. The Tower of London, Hotel de Ville, Moliere, Napoleon, Marie Antoinette…and the list goes on and on. Fascinating. My high school history teacher would be so proud. Finally.

But that trip taught me a lot about myself. Travel does that. It helps you to find your strengths (boldness) and your weaknesses (foreign language) and shows you how self sufficient and resourceful you can be. It was one of the big reasons I wanted Teen Angel to take this trip. I wanted her to see just how capable she is. She is a quick thinker and can adapt as circumstances dictate. I like that. And I think she began to understand that just a few days into the trip. I was rather proud of the way she handled herself on the trip.

The most important thing I learned about myself though, was that I like home. Don’t get me wrong. I love traveling, and I can’t wait for the day I’ve saved enough money for a tour of Italy (I’m looking at you 2015). I definitely think I could be the backpack across Europe type of gal. I don’t need much clothing or fancy hotel rooms, and I could go for days with a Eur-Rail pass and good shoes, but it did feel good to get back home.

Home. Where iced tea comes in bucket sized glasses and I can drive anywhere I want to go. Where biscuits and jelly come with a chicken dinner and people speak to strangers like they’re old friends. But most of all, it’s where my family is.

All my life I’ve lived in the same basic area. I bounced across the Ohio River after college, but aside from college, I have always lived within thirty minutes of my parents, brothers and various assorted relatives. When I first graduated from college, I had dreams of moving to another city, but my career started here, and stayed here. Over the years, I had job offers in Nashville, Cincinnati, Louisville and Memphis, but by then I was married and had made a deal with Hubby that we would stay here to take care of his parents when they got old. Sometimes, I felt a tug of regret when I turned down those jobs, but over the years I’ve come to realize that was a blessing. I ended up in a great job where my stress level is much lower than it used to be, I’ve stayed close to many family members and Teen Angel got to have a close relationship with all four of her grandparents.

She never had to go to daycare. When she was little she spent her days at Mama J.’s and Papa T.’s and really felt like that was her second home. When Mama J. passed away, I was glad Teen Angel had gotten to enjoy her grandmother so much over the years. It certainly made up for any bumps I had along the way by living next door to my mother in law.

I realized today that I was fortunate to live so close to my many cousins, aunts and uncles. I said goodbye this afternoon to one of my favorite uncles who was not expected to live through the rest of the day. For years, he and his family lived near Chicago, but they moved back home after retirement, and I’ve been able to see them regularly for years now. I know you’re not supposed to have favorites, but I have many favorites, and he’s one of them. Such a nice, sweet man with a patient loving heart and a quick wit. I love him dearly, and his death is a bit sudden. It comes during a rough month for us, and frankly, I’m tired of burying people.

As I drove away from the hospital, I thought about the cousins I have who live away from here and how that distance limited the time they could spend with certain family members, including my grandparents, and how they have fewer memories of those folks. I am lucky. I was here to see my grandpa tend to his strawberries. To watch grandma make biscuits and tend to her flowers and to have my granny at my college graduation.  I was here to laugh and joke with Uncle P. at family dinners.  My life is richer for those experiences, and I am glad for that. For me, home truly is where the heart is, and it feels good to be home. I can’t wait for future travels and adventures abroad, but I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else but here.


Life with Kaishon said...

This post is beautiful. I am glad you had a wonderful trip. I am also glad that you know how blessed you are to be surrounded by family. It really is the most beautiful gift you can give your children I think. I am glad Teen Angel was able to experience that sort of closeness.

Jan n Jer said...

I hear you girl...there is no place like home!!! Families are important n the dynamics change within each family. While my relationship has changed with my 4 siblings..we are all so into our own nucleous families n I live an hour away, we rarely get together anymmore. I am so blessed to live just 7 miles from my two lovely daugthers n 4 grans so for this I am forever grateful, we see each other often!