I have been thinking a lot about home lately. Not just these four walls in which I live but what a home means. What makes a home? What is it about the biological makeup of women that we feel such a desire to have and make a home? To be always working, tidying, arranging, scrubbing, fixing, changing… And what is it that makes all of humankind long for home? That pulls old and young alike to gather at “home” for special occasions, long weekends, reunions and the like?
“Home for the Holidays”
“Home Sweet Home”
“All Roads Lead Home”
“I’ll Be Home for Christmas”
“Home is Where the Heart Is”
I think of the places that I have lived over the years. They aren’t many and they aren’t far apart. There are moments that stand out in my mind from each dwelling. I remember beauty pageants enacted on our front steps by my sisters and I in the home I grew up in. I remember a summer family project in which those front steps were replaced with a beautiful white front porch worthy of “Gone with the Wind”.
I think of the little basement apartment in Logan, Utah. The home where I became a wife. The home with walls so thin we could hear the fighting (and later the making up!) of the landlords who shared the house.
I remember the little white county house that became our home after I secured my first teaching contract. The home where I became a mom. I remember the first time I bathed my own new baby in the kitchen sink of that home. He was so wiggly and slippery. And, when I dried him off, much of his hair came off in the towel! And he smelled so scrumptious and yummy as I snuggled him in the fluffy towel with sunlight streaming through the kitchen windows and little soapy puddles on the floor.
I remember our first home that came with a mortgage. I insisted on painting it yellow upon moving in. If I had my way, every house we ever lived in would be painted yellow. I remember Mrs. Duncan, the little old lady who sold us her house and went shopping with me for carpet and paint. That home was nestled in the middle of the best neighborhood ever. Sunday afternoon walks took hours as we stopped in driveways and on front steps to chat with wonderful friends. I grew my first garden all by myself at that home and practiced canning to fill up my tiny pantry with one diaper-clad helper.
And now, I sit in my home surrounded by five beautiful children and all the “stuff” that comes with such an entourage. There are crumbs under the kitchen table. Laundry is hanging to dry and overflowing from hampers, waiting to be folded. There are dishes to be washed. There is also laughter. And hugs and kisses. A family picture hangs framed on the wall and, under it, the words “Happy Hearts, Helping Hands”. Admonition or recipe?
As I look at the clutter that makes up my home, I hear the words of a good friend in my ear, “It’s clean underneath”. A mantra of sorts. And I realize, as I look back on my memories of home over the years, I don’t remember cleaning the toilets, sweeping the floors, washing the dishes, although I am sure that those things happened. I am certain that I even did them. Instead, I remember swimming pools, swingsets, long walks, reading stories by the light of tiki torches on the back patio, naps in the sun, food and games with friends… I guess ‘clean underneath’ can be enough.
Thinking of places that I have called home makes me wonder about the future. What other homes will I decorate, rearrange, clean and care for? What memories will be made there?
“When I leave this frail existence, when I lay this mortal by, Father, Mother, may I greet you, in your royal courts on high?” What house am I earning there? And can one have red walls in a heavenly mansion? Is such a bold, unforgiving color allowed? And do I have to clean my toilets in heaven, because really, who would it be heaven for if that person had to clean toilets?
I sincerely hope that having my home and my life “clean underneath” will be enough to buy me a mansion there. With red walls. Because that is a homecoming I am really looking forward to.
But I have a few more houses to paint yellow first.
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