Monday, August 30, 2010

Searching for Home: A Sing-Song History of Me



In Easton of the "crick" and yellow house I was born. Happy days and a twin to help me through, but when we were two we moved to the big beautiful farm house on Hunsicker Rd. It was our house...all our own, for years we lived and worked and made the cows "moo". Happy memories of a "home"...a home all our own.

Ten years in our home on Hunsicker Road. The worry lines grew on mama and papa's faces and then we knew. We knew that the house on Hunsicker Road was not our home. Poor and broken, no home where we could go. Mama and papa fighting hard for the money that was gone even before it was ours. So we moved to Allentown Road. Cracked ceilings and crooked floors and a roof that was falling off. Mama sick. Dad away working every day and in the summers he mowed the lawn too. No where to go, no one to pay, no gas for heat. Someone else's shoes on my feet. We all knew the only way out was to work hard and never, ever quit.

Top of the class I was, yes indeed it was the only way for me and the twin right beside me. Four years away, far away from the broken house. But mama and papa stayed, mama still sick, papa's worries heavy on his strong back. They could not go away and so stars in our eyes we all became their away. Run I would far, far away from my home, crooked and broken that reminded me of the sadness that would not go away. No more homes that were not really ours, but at least mama and papa never promised there would be.

Eyes off self and onto them, that mama and papa who made me "me". Papa's never stopped working every day except on Sundays when he reads theology books. Mama too, never stopped working, never a second. They kept going, for what? Why didn't they quit? because they didn't want us to.

Eleven years in the crooked house. Wind flowed through when the blizzard came, about 30, I remember. Ceiling cracked and came down under the bathroom full of bugs. Even a summer when the whole roof came down, down onto mama's memories. That day I will never forget. No, please, this is not my home, says mama. The place of her tired, sick years and the place where she didn't quit and taught me to do the same. Much sadness and waiting for something to change. But it didn't, so mama did and so did papa. Healing came after many a bed sheet soiled with tearful prayers.

Then, came time 'cause we got kicked out. Where to? says papa, mama says you decide. Papa says he's got her house o' dreams, mama says NOOOOOOO house of dreams looks like that, but where can we go? So, here we go and mama works her magic again. Mama cleans and fills up with her plants what was black and dead.

And me? Still want to be away and make my life my own. But the more I go, the more I come home. Home. A myth in 50's movies. Not a place, but a school. Learning from the ones who teach. The ones who keep on keepin' on. In the sadness and madness bring joy and hope. Mama and papa of the best "no home" there is or ever could be. The ones who taught me to never quit. Gems within. Stars in my eyes I come. I have come to the hills to smile from the valley of "no home". Only to say there are no hills, no perfect place to be. No answers in a place on earth but they are in the being. Being His...coming Home to the only arms that will never let go. Mama and Papa in One who keeps me keepin'. Tired arms, and legs, and brain and heart fit tight and secure here and only here.

AWK--1999

(This piece I wrote "for" my Spanish students to whom I had been reading Sandra Cisnero's "House on Mango Street" during the course of the year. The entire piece has that flavor and influence...I also wrote this before my mom died now over 8 years ago...but it still fits although now I am making "homes" myself in transient places as I sojourn as a wife and mom and follower of Jesus)

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