“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”
― John Donne, No Man Is An Island
Sometimes it feels that the world gets smaller each time a person’s life is lost. I appreciate that it’s human to feel a twinge of sadness even if you didn’t know the person. Even if you knew someone that knew the person, it should render us at least sympathetic.
Then sometimes we go for a while and the memory gets less. Maybe we should pledge to never let the memory become so vague it walks out of our thoughts.
Home is one of the hardest words to define. Is it the building? Is it the geographic location? Is it where I’m from but not where I am at the moment? Is it the collection of people who are relatives? Can it be a group of people who aren’t related? What if you can’t define home?
Being a product of the “baby boom generation,” I finished high school in the mid 60s living in a peaceful, suburban area where all the kids looked alike—middle income and white. There was another world out there that most of us never saw—the race riots, horrors of the War in Vietnam, new discoveries in space and astonishing acts of violence that took the lives of a president, a presidential candidate’s and a race relations leader.
I was on the tail end of a generation where young women were making their choices of an advanced degree in college or homemaking and motherhood. I never regretted the road I chose. I just see it so differently now in a generation twice removed how the roles have changed & women are allowed/accepted women in many roles i.e., professional wife/mother; single mother; adoptive mother to children of the family or from other families and even foreign countries. Lines are more blurry now of who is related to whom and who is a good role model.
I know the definition and the difference between home & family. I know the words don’t mean the same to everyone. For me, the choice was part of who I was growing up to become. I completely felt the need to follow my young husband first to college, then into the ministry, then the military, and back to college to complete a degree.
Before I was old enough to vote, I was a mother. I became a mother the second time 2 years & 8 days from the birth of my first child. I reveled in that role with full commitment and understanding. How could I achieve that so young? Because I had seen family and home in my life as being the safe place where we live. It is the place we hone our skills of personality & acceptance.
There is forever that “leaving” that happens when children reach a certain age. And who in the world can find what that perfect age is? For me it was a way to be with the man I loved and start our family. Those little tiny packages that came on hot summer days in the years of 1967 & 1969 were the most precious little human beings I had ever seen. They were the perfect companion for a life I was to live. They were sweet, loving and so cute; they had tempers, crying spells and their own little personalities. And, in the end, I was left to build and modify the mold in which they would be shaped.
Experiencing some changes just as the beauty of glass comes after the heat of the elements, I was alone to take them into their teen years & adulthood. How could I do it? Who would I lean on and turn to?
…there’s no other word that conjures up for me the feelings of peace and strength. In family I find encouragement and understanding. I had such a huge lesson to teach my children and I didn’t know where to start. How could I instill in them the importance of relying on each other? How could I be sure they would always do the right thing when I wasn’t always there? What would be their choices when I let them make those choices.
Suffice it to say I was in fear of this huge responsibility. But, time was marching on; and as each orbit marked a day upon a day, I knew one of those days was THE moment when I let them choose and make their path.
Oh, how could I be sure they’d ever come back home? What would I do if they failed? How could I be there for them when time & space wouldn’t allow it?
…the never-ending self-sufficient heart-warming kind of feelings that would translate to trust and safety. Did I need to worry about them in their lives? Of course, I would but I didn’t NEED to because I had equipped them with the best tools I knew: love, trust, faith, friends, family and a HUGE amount of self-worth and purpose to which I added load of hugs. I then added my words of trust and confirmed to them that I knew they had made good choices. It was such a hard time, BUT I EVENTUALLY GREW UP!
Forty plus years later I can see I need not have worried about how and what they would choose. They have gone through the same questions I did. They have made good and bad choices. They have learned from certain mistakes but they have kept their faith and love close to their heart and have given it to those with whom they surround themselves.
I didn’t need to worry at all. I didn’t need to lose sleep waiting up for them. I had no real reasons to check on them even when they said “it’s all good.”
I didn’t have to…but I wanted to! I wanted them to remember that home & family are the place you find the strength to take your first baby steps and those young adult bigger steps and the huge giant steps when you create your own little human beings.
I humbly say, “I’ve done well.” But so can they…they can be proud of where they are in their life now and what it took to get there.
Want to come home? Need to come home? Sure that’s an option, but I’m much happier they’ve made their own homes with those they love.
Good job, kids!This post is dedicated to my children who recently had August birthdays..and to my granddaughters who are on their own now making choices. My advice is: pray about your life; work at it; stay true to yourself; think of others…and most of all…learn how to love and be loved. Life is a fabulous gift…use it well. Johnny Mathis “I’m Coming Home”