Home Is Where Your Peeps Are

iampeacenow’s post about her mom’s passing and her brother’s disposal of her worldly possessions got me thinking about my own dad’s death. I used to go back to Michigan every July to visit my dad, cousins, aunts and uncles, nieces, and great niece & nephew. But now I don’t. Admittedly, Covid got me out of the habit, but when I look at why I haven’t resumed the annual pilgrimage, I have to wonder if unbeknownst to my conscious mind, the pull to return “home” was my dad.

Babs paddles by De Zwaan, imported piece by piece from the Netherlands in 1964

With so many family activities, it was sometimes hard to carve out a lot of time to visit with my dad. Kayaking with cousins, hiking with nieces, biking to the beach and the culmination of the week with a huge family reunion, all served to push quality time with Dad to the fringes. And as he grew more infirm, I wasn’t eager to take him out for the long, shore-line drives and beach-side lunches he so enjoyed when he could no longer drive. He had to pee often and just getting in and out of the car was fraught with the danger of him falling. He was a big man, over 200 lbs. and I feared that I wouldn’t be able to right him if he ever toppled over on my watch. So, our visits consisted of me visiting him in the depressing assisted-living facility where he spent his last few years.

My Favorite Aunt Mary Jane, me, Dad, and sister Babs July, 2008

Thankfully, his memory remained as sharp as his ever-ready sense of humor so our visits were interesting and funny. He was a great story teller and could always surprise me with a tale I hadn’t heard before. I always parted from him with a vague sense of guilt that I didn’t spend more time with him, and as he grew more enfeebled, I feared that each good-bye might be the last.

His failing health gave us ample warning of his imminent demise and I was lucky to be able to make one final visit, a month ahead of my regular, annual journey, to say our final good-byes. Weak but still of sound mind, he entertained me with more stories of my grandparents and great-grandfather. He told how in The Great War (WWI) his dad’s commanding officer advised him to take good care of the mules because they were more valuable than the poor soldier who tended them. The admonition was not necessary, dad said, as my grandpa loved those beasts like his own children. What a poignant illustration of the connection of family! I had come by my passion for horses through my dad’s genes.

So, Dad’s been gone a couple of years now and for a variety of reasons, I have stopped returning to the place of my birth on an annual basis. Though the cousins and nieces are still there, and the places of childhood memories remain, there’s one missing piece. Like a jigsaw puzzle, the one missing piece spoils the picture.

https://iampeacenow.wordpress.com/ is right, you probably can’t ever go home again once the people who made it home are gone.

9 thoughts on “Home Is Where Your Peeps Are

  1. I think you’re absolutely right. Once the tangible connections are gone, it’s more like you’re a tourist versus returning “home”. When I moved back to Portland from Seattle, my mom had re-married my dad (long story) and moved to SoCal. I was glad to be home, but without that familial anchor, it didn’t feel the same. I felt like I was both home but also re-finding my connection to the city again.


    1. Ah, Portland is a quirky city to find a connection in. It holds a special place in my heart because of my eccentric friends who have made it their home…and because I love the Japanese garden there. Your folks must be a bit odd too if they uprooted themselves to move to the chaos of Southern California.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I once thought the erosion of a sense of place was the greatest loss of the last half of the Twentieth Century. My cousins, nieces, nephews, my brother who estranged himself are all where they were. Many “friends” from my youth remain, and yet to return is akin to visiting a foreign land. Those that made it “home”, the ones who were the “place” are long gone. I would break up a nonstop cross country flight to crash at my Dad’s. I’d drive seven hours if none of the “family” could be bothered with some project. Without him, or my crazy Mom it’s a dot on a map. Someplace I was once familiar with, and can still get from one end of town to the other, but what I didn’t know before their passing was the why was ephemeral, never an address or a building. Place is in the heart. Nice piece.


  3. Home is where the heart is. My hometown has become this place where I live instead of where I grew up simply because all the people I knew and loved are gone. All the people I knew at the church are mostly gone. All that is left there are a few buildings that held memories and even those are disappearing. You are so right that it is the people that make it a home….


    1. This life journey is fascinating, eh? We’ve come to that stage in life where we are the next generation in line to die, the previous generation having gone ahead. Now it’s up to us to be the “home” our younger peeps return to. It’s a rather comfortable role.


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