One thing I have a hard time imagining for my child is the fact that he won’t have a “home” like I’ve had a home. By that, I mean the one place where I grew up, where my parents grew up, where my grandparents grew up… where everyone always was and will be.
My dad posted this photo to Facebook this week. It’s an aerial view of the house and farm where I grew up for the first ten years of my life. The picture was taken seven years before I was born, but nearly all of it is recognizable to my memory. Now, a lovely ranch-style home is situated along the left of this photo, in the shadow of the tree line, and only the maple tree outside my old bedroom and barn foundation remain. My dad lives there, so I get to see what changes over time.
It’s not that farm house that was home. Maybe some of “home” is the land. Mostly home is simply where the memories were made. The sense of belonging. That feeling that it was home. While it’s nice to return to the kitchen table that overlooks the creek – where I decided to leave for college, where my husband asked my dad for permission to marry me, where we played our last Yahtzee game as a whole family – I don’t need to be there to remember where I’m from:
- A place where integrity matters.
- A place where family counts.
- A place where you’re expected to pitch in and get your hands dirty.
- A place where nature reminds us there are some things we can’t control.
- A place where “salad” is supposed to be mayonnaise- or Jell-O-based.
That’s what it means to be a Midwesterner, I think. And it’s always a part of me, even if that maple tree has to come down some day. I hope that, no matter where the Air Force takes us, we’re able to provide our son with a sense of home in knowing where he comes from…even if it’s not a specific place.