This week’s guest writer is Molly Campbell from Life with the Campbells: View from the Empty Nest. She is a breath of fresh air whenever I log into Twitter. Always tweeting kind and encouraging messages. I was fortunate to meet Molly soon after I opened my Twitter account and have enjoyed interacting with her from the very first moment. In addition to being a wonderful person, she is a talented writer. Molly is a two-time Erma Bombeck award winner in humor and human interest categories. I am honored to have her words to share on my blog today. It is a poignant piece on what “home” means to Molly and probably to a lot of you too.
It is the place where you hang your hat. It’s where your family is. But as I age, the idea of “home” seems to be taking on a greater significance than ever before. I want to be here. I like to look around at things. I appreciate that I have one. I wonder what is causing my new appreciation of the building where I live, since I have been here for over twenty years.
Of course, I liked it the first time I saw it. It was old, big enough, in a nice neighborhood, and it had large rooms. It has been the place where my girls grew up. It has been very easy to decorate. But I wonder why I seem to need it more, now that I am getting older.
We do a lot of running around as young people. We travel, we have careers, and most of us have children. There are lots of outside demands. I loved all of those things when I was young, and home, to me, was not of tremendous significance, except at holiday time.
As a matter of fact, if you had asked me at age thirty where my “home” was, I would probably have given you my parents’ address. I lost that “home” when they retired and moved into a condominium, and I still feel the loss. I have only been back to the town where I grew up twice since my parents left it.
There is obviously a transition in all of our lives when we stop thinking of our childhood houses as “home” and begin to make ones of our own. The meaning of the term “home” must also change, from the location where we were nurtured (or not) to the one where we are the nurturers. It must take at least a generation for the new identity of “home” to sink in. I remember cherishing remnants of my childhood, such as my Grandmother’s dishes and certain knick knacks that my mother gave me. Now I am passing things to my children that I think will remind them of their growing years.
But this building that I live in is not important to me for the memories. So what is it about it that grows in importance as I age? In my case, I think a house is a symbol of freedom and independence. As we age, the specter of assisted living or “downsizing” looms. The idea of not being able to climb stairs enters the mind. Hefting grocery bags and toting heavy laundry baskets becomes a bit more difficult.
I remember my impatience to grow up. I hated other people’s rules. I wanted to make my own decisions and choose my own place to live. I needed to get out from under the lifestyle that my parents created for themselves in order to create my own reality.
It takes time to mature. We live in apartments. We have jobs that demand long hours of our time. We have children that engage our emotions and tire us out. Some of us are lucky enough to buy our own houses. We get nicer cars and maybe a few pets. We dig flower beds. We go to soccer games. In between all those things, we come to self-knowledge and an awareness of what is truly important to us. Along the way, we add and subtract to the places where we live, until one day, we are finally “home.”
So here I sit. At home. It took most of my adult life to establish it. And now, as I contemplate the fact that I may not be able to live here until I die, I cherish it.