I leave tomorrow for home, for my parents’ home, for Hartsville, the second home I’ve had all my life. My grandparents have lived in Hartsville much longer than I’ve been alive. Mother and Daddy met and married in Hartsville; they moved back there over twenty years ago. My Mama passed at one hundred one years old in January of 2015. Her home has been sold as well as my childhood memories. No, I guess no one can take away their home and what it meant to me. Mother and Daddy have both passed now and my only remaining sibling and I are handling their estate. Fran is in charge of the business end, and I am the housekeeper, yardman, decorator, and de-clutter-er. I also keep in touch with friends and neighbors who have meant so much to my whole family over the years.
I love going home. I usually go there by myself and enjoy just being home. I do quite a bit of talking to Mother, Daddy, and sister Anne while I am there. Yes, I cry there, but, that is okay. I also am surprised with keepsakes and treasures I never knew were there. I was delighted to find a shoe box in Daddy’s closet filled with letters and cards his girls and grandchildren had sent him over the years. I read every single one. I also went upstairs into Daddy’s work nook, and sorted through every screw, nail, hinge, and what have you, that was scattered across his workspace there. I had it entirely organized by size, shape, and length, which I am sure aggravated Daddy to no end. However, touching those tools and such that Daddy had used for almost sixty years of marriage warmed my heart.
In the flatware drawer in the kitchen were two thank you notes written on napkins. Mother had tucked them away. One from Anne, Fran, and Jan thanking Mother and Daddy for a week visit … just us … no children, husbands, dogs, or cats. One from Fran’s two girls, thanking Mother and Daddy for a great visit with them. It was in a drawer used every day; I like to think Mother kept that near so she could remember those special good times with us.
I feel the presence of my parents and my sister in this house-their home. I have been visited by all three of them there. I know this; a strong pat on the foot, a feathery caress across my face, a pressure with a heartbeat, a bright light in my bedroom at night, are all examples of the night visits. But one day I needed a tape measure, the yardstick I had wasn’t working. I spoke aloud to Daddy, asking him where it was. He said, “Go upstairs, it’s right there.” I followed his lead and on his tool work desk there it lay, as if it had been laid there for me to pick up.
Now none of this scares me. I find it so very comforting. My family is a part of me forever. Why should death part our spirits?
1 Corinthians 15:51-57 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
John 16:22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.
Dear Lord, thank you for allowing me to feel the presence of my departed loved ones. Whether real or imagined is not important. What is important, is the love felt and the life to come promised. You created me with abilities to feel emotions deeply. Love is the strongest emotion. God, You are Love. God You are with Us. If my departed loved ones are with You, Dear Lord, then they are with me, too. At home in Hartsville, the love that surrounds me and the strength of this love has no limits. This I do believe.