As an adult, going back home is always a treat. Going home, for me, means Maryland. I grew up in Westminster, Maryland in Carroll County. The county I knew–and the one that it has become are not really the same. What once was rural is now congested with homes built on top of each other. There are some things that have remained… Like Hoffman’s ice cream store. Or the church I grew up in. My old high school, my relatives homes……. but, even these things, though they remain, have changed. The church doesn’t have the same name anymore, buildings added, houses have additions–things are moved around and there are a TON more people. Home in my memory looks different, and yet I can still see the reflection of times past.
As I sat in my Aunt’s backyard this past Sunday evening looking at my cousin’s children and my children rolling down the hill, I was taken back in time to when my cousins and I were the young ones playing on that hill. The hill seems a lot smaller to me now than it did 35 years ago. Things remain the same, even though they are different. Time marches on. Now, I am the forty- something sitting in the lawn chair watching the kids play, and my aunts and uncles are now grandparents. Time has changed our roles in this family scene.
My aunt and I had a discussion about how things have changed. We can’t expect that things will stay the same forever. People get older, move away, new people move in, births are celebrated, deaths are mourned, schools are added, new stores, churches change names….in short, life happens. The truth is I wouldn’t want things to remain exactly the same. That would be weird, huh? With all the changes over the years I’ve come to realize that I can’t physically go back home. Not really. Not to the home that I once knew. It no longer exists. Time has taken it prisoner. It is tucked away in pictures from years gone by. I like to visit, to be reminded of what it used to be like.
It’s not sad. I’m not sad. I’ve come to the conclusion that the word home really is about the people. The relationships. Those are what make home real. It’s the collective memories of family history that connect us….that take us home. Whether one still lives in the same community he/she grew up in, has trekked across the United States, or half way around the world, home is being reminded of family. Home is shared memories of home made ice cream on hot summer days, playing wiffle ball with cousins, family gatherings at Christmas, Friday night football, baseball at the park, and grandma’s potato salad. Chocolate sheet cake, wild games of UNO, trips to the ocean. Baptisms, scholarships, graduations, summer afternoon drives, and just being together.
So, even though the surroundings might change—and home doesn’t look like home anymore, just know that home is there. You can go visit it again….and again, because home resides in the heart.