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The Story of Home

 

Home.  It’s a single word that evokes tremendous emotion.  It’s where we first learn who we are and where we fit into the world.  It’s where we build our first relationships, where we learn to share and negotiate, where we learn to love and how to show it.  It’s where our stories begin.

 

I believe that home should be a refuge from the meanness and chaos that is often in the world “out there” and from the stress of work and everyday life.  Home, to me, is a place of love and laughter, a place to relax and recharge, and sometimes, when I can get it, a place of peace.

 

Home has been on my mind all week because of the comment on last week’s post from Heiner.  (Click here – find comment at end of post.)    For those of you who don’t know, Heiner was an exchange student from Switzerland back in the 70’s who lived with our family for a year.  He quickly became part of the family, a soccer star at school, and a beloved member of our community.  The fireplace in our kitchen that we gathered around, sang around, laughed and cried around, is pictured above.

 

Here is where the story of our family mainly took place.  My older brother and sister were 3-1/2 and 8 months old respectively when our parents bought this house and our folks lived there for four more children and almost 60 years.  There was a lot of our history in that house and much of it ended up on the kitchen wall.  Baby pictures of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  Pictures of friends, relatives, and neighbors.  Pictures of great-grandparents we’d never met.  Wedding pictures, graduation pictures, vacation pictures from people who’d moved away but kept in touch.  Navy boot camp graduation pictures of both my brothers and I.  A silhouette of my youngest sister.  The old Coke box I found in a mom-and-pop store thirty plus years ago filled with tiny nic-nacs my mother loved.  Some of you reading this are on the wall someplace.  It was the best photo album ever.

 

 

Like life, the pictures accrued chronologically, often layered over each other.  This picture of the wall was taken after my sister organized it.  100 square feet of the curated story of our family.  The family my parents started against the wishes of both their mothers.  The family that grew year by year to include a mom, a dad, six children, and various others from time to time.  You were only company at our house the first time you came.  After that, you were family.  And, at some time or another, you would probably end up on that wall.  The picture wall, as we called it, was not the real story though.  The real story was the people who lived in this home, the people who came in and out of this home, the love we lived and the lessons we learned between the walls of this home.

 

This story is about the family my parents created-a family of friends, relatives. neighbors, and sometimes even total strangers-and the legacy they left for all of us who remain behind.  It’s about them opening their home to exchange students so we could  experience different people and cultures and learn to love them as brothers and sisters.  So in this way, we gained Heiner as a brother, and Tony from Mexico as a brother, and Susanna from Uruguay as a sister.

 

We also gained countless new friends through World Hospitality.  People from places like Israel, Japan, Sudan, France,  and Iran.  Those people made an impact on me.  Even now, fifty years later, I wonder and worry about Golara-the young daughter of the visiting couple from Iran.  Is she still alive?  Does she have children?  How has all the craziness going on in the world affected her life?  And the young woman from Israel?  She was a soldier.  How has her life turned out?  And one of my favorite people, Miss Roshan from Tanzania.  I still remember her descending the stairs to the living room in her sari looking so regal and so beautiful.

 

The home I grew up in tells a story of people dropping in for a week or two without warning, of setting another place at the table, of the wine cellar in the basement where my dad made wine (a couple hundred gallons a year!).  It’s a story of joy and anger, of dashed hopes and dreams come true.  It’s a story of helping and healing and need and want and decisions that could go either way.  It’s a story of-I can hit my sister if I want but you better not touch her.  It’s a story of people, both foreign and domestic.  Hitchhikers, people met at a bus station, people who are friends of friends, the family of man.  It’s a story of learning to love the world from my own front porch.

 

I truly appreciate my story so far, and I love the people who are in that story.  I love being a part of my family’s story.  I love the story of the family my husband and I created.  I love you all being a part of my continuing story and that I’m a part of yours.   A new, young couple lives in the house where I grew up and they’re making it their home.  I hope the story they live there is as full of love as the one our family lived.

 

And now a bonus picture just for you, Heiner…     (That’s Heiner in all his 70’s soccer-playing glory!)

 

 

Feel free to share with us (in the comments) some of the story of you…

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About carol

Hi there, I'm Carol. I look for the beauty in everyday people and the everyday world that surrounds me. I'm a writer, a fair photographer, and I'm also a wannabe artist. I wear many other labels, but I try not to let them define me. What about you? I'd love to hear about your story!

14 Replies

  1. Heiner

    Thank you for the tribute, Carol 🙂 My memories of 274 Walnut Street in E.A. are more than fond: Back in 1974, i was seventeen when i became part of the Lester family. The twelve year old Tony from Mexico was living with them at the time – and from one moment to the other i was in the middle of a kidding- loving- hugging- kissing family with three brothers and 4 sisters! There were visitors almost every evening that just walked through the back door into the kitchen to sit around the fire- place: Friends, neighbours, the guys from the seminary. If a picture was taken it made its way to the wall sooner or later – and stayed there forever! It felt just like a picture of our hearts. It was strange for me coming to a foreign country and to a family that felt more like home than the one i knew so far. And guess what my wife and i did when we moved into our house back in Switzerland: We built a fireplace – and started a picture wall!
    I think it was Johnny Cash who said “Home is where i hang my hat”. I would add “Home is where i feel love and kindness”… As i was blessed with throughout my year in E.A. Blyb – heiner

    1. carol

      Heiner, I love that you guys built a fireplace and a picture wall. That’s beautiful! And how lucky we were to have you and Tony come into our lives! You both fit right in from day one. You know, I never really understood what a special thing we had until I got out into the world and found that most people didn’t have that. Papa used to marvel at the grandkids coming to visit on their vacation. He’d say “What kids spend their vacation visiting their grandparents?” But they were such special people and they made such a special place where everyone was welcome. The sliding glass door in the kitchen would whoosh open, and you never knew who would come through it. Unless it was Aunt Helen-she always rapped her keys on the kitchen window before coming around to the door. Remember? And your glass of chocolate milk in the fridge? What fun we had! Blyb…c

  2. Vali Porter Schunk

    Wow I always thought you had a Hugh heart now I know where you got it. So glad to hear your happy. Talented also.

    1. carol

      Vali, thanks for that, I can’t match who my parents were, but I hope I got some of what they had. I’m happier now than I’ve ever been. Getting older (I actually love that, too) and looking back, I can appreciate where I am and how I got here. I’m grateful for all the people who have touched my life and made it better. You are one of those people. I love your spirit and your laughter. I miss having you just across the hall! If I ever make it up that way, I’m going to find you!! And then, watch out!

  3. Paul

    Excellent, Carol!!!
    I have a picture of 274 on my dresser. I look at it every day and say a little prayer, for the house itself and for everyone who has passed through it to enrich our lives and make us the family we are today. I also think of the new family living there and hope that they, and the house, continue to be blessed as we were while our lives unfolded on Walnut Street.

    1. carol

      My dear brother Paul, you just about made me cry. What a sweet thing to do. I know that would make mom and dad very proud. You have a good heart! Love you!

  4. Lynn

    This was such a beautiful story of your life but the best is yet to come. You have those wonderful grandbabies that bring you so much love and joy. I pray that this generation coming up can enjoy some of these pleasures. I love both my grandsons with all my heart and hope they follow the path that God has for them. Keep up the great job you are doing. Hope to see you soon. I Love You dear friend.

    1. carol

      I love you too dear friend! I believe you because life just keeps getting better every day! I think your grandsons have a great chance of following their path because they’ve had you in their lives to love them and guide them. What lucky boys! You’ll be seeing me soon…don’t be surprised when I show up! Thanks for your kind words, I appreciate your support! Love you!

  5. Lou Traylor

    It’s amazing how we rarely appreciate what we have til it’s gone. I read a poem on line years ago. I do not remember the name of the poem. Nor do I remember the authors name. But there was a line in that poem that has never left me.
    “If time would let me have my way, I’d run back home to yesterday.”
    Then there is the line from the poem, Rock Me to Sleep
    by Elizabeth Akers Allen.
    “Backward, turn backward, O Time, in your flight,
    Make me a child again just for tonight!”

    1. carol

      Lou, it would be wonderful to go back for a while, wouldn’t it? But luckily, it’s a part of who we are, like our DNA, and it can’t be taken away. Our story is our story forever.

  6. Shelley

    Thank you for sharing your heart. When I read your stories my heart rate slows and I feel a sense of calm and peace. You do have a special gift. But then you are a special person! Much love to you.💖

    1. carol

      Shelley, thank you so much. I appreciate your kind words and I’m so glad you’re enjoying my heart songs! You have a very open, loving, and generous spirit and I’d love to hear some of your stories about the things that have made you who you are. (no pressure, I’m just saying it would be awesome) Sending you love and peace and plenty!

  7. Susan Manry

    I love this! What a warm, loving home you grew up in. That picture wall is just incredible. This story you shared about home is beautiful. Home is where the heart is and oh my at the memories popping up in my mind right now of home. It’s strange, but after your parents are gone, home really has a special different meaning. My first two homes as a child were a house connected to a funeral home. The movie My Girl from the 90’s is the way I grew up. My father was a mortician in a small south Georgia town. So I grew up in a home of great love and a home where my parents showed love and compassion for people at their greatest time of sorrow and need. I learned about emotions, great love, compassion for others, laughter, happiness as well as sadness and sorrow at an early age. My last home with my parents is the home my parents lived in for 45 years. My brother and his wife renovated my parents home and now it is their home. The home had great bones and many wonderful memories. Now new traditions continue in that same home some almost 50 years later. Thank you Carol Horton. You have a gift that’s makes me smile and always is thought provoking. Home is a beautiful place in my heart and memories in my mind.

    1. carol

      Susan, It’s wonderful to grow up in such a place. I never really gave it a thought when I was young, but assumed that’s how everyone lived. How lucky we were! As I got older, I realized that other kids had different situations. But like you, as an adult, I carry home with me in my heart. I’m so glad you can still go “home” and find a warm, loving welcome from family. p.s. I loved that movie My Girl!