I tend to be a home body. My wife is aggravated by this at times; she is more of a traveler and likes to be on the move.
This article idea just popped into my head one Sunday morning as I sat in the church where I grew up — but we will get to that later. This article is written to and for anyone who has or will play a part in being my “home.”
I do really tend to love home – wherever that may be. I like to joke about the fact that my family settled in the New Market area from Pennsylvania by way of Virginia back in the early 1830s. My immediate family lived just about eight miles from New Market on Gath Road. My running joke is that we didn’t get far in life… but I am OK with that. I love Ohio! I really can’t see myself living anywhere else. I love how we typically do tend to see all four seasons. I especially love snow. Most of my friends despise that word, but I love the view out of the back patio doors of the pure and unscathed field of white fluffy stuff. It paints such a great picture of pristine innocence and purity.
Back to where this article began: I have mentioned in my earlier articles that my mom’s family grew up in the Sugar Tree Ridge Church of Christ. My family has attended this church since way back into the early 1900s. My wife, daughter and I were all baptized in this church and my wife and I were married there, as well as my mom and dad and three of my siblings. It was also the place that our family and friends paid their final respects to my dad. So, this church is home. It’s where I learned as a little boy who Jesus was and why he was important to me. I also learned at an early age that my Gpa Emery could thump me on my noggin pretty hard for misbehaving.
It was a sunny December Sunday morning, and I had decided to take my mom to church. She is awaiting a knee surgery, so my siblings and I have decided to take turns assisting mom to church. On this beautiful morning, I was sitting in the very same pew that I had often sat in over the past many years. As typically happens on sunny Sunday mornings, I sat and listened to the old hymns being played and the sunshine poured in to that front stained-glass window and warmed my face. I always liked to think this was God shining in on us. They say home is where the heart is; some even say home is where you make it. Either way, “home” is such a powerful word. It carries with it such a warm and fuzzy feeling, and that morning, in that church pew, the sun was warming not only my skin, but my heart.
Allensburg Church of Christ is home now for my wife and me. Changes are inevitable in life, and I have realized that “home” is where you make it. With change comes new memories and wonderful friendships that join the older ones.
Why is home so special? Why do some tend to love home more than others?
I have such fond memories of the home I grew up in. My mom still lives in this house to this very day. It was built by my great grandfather Herschel Mock many years ago. We recently built on to my mom’s home, and as we did so, we marveled at the smallness of the house. We have trouble even imagining how eight people fit in that small farm house! There were only three bedrooms and, worse than that, only one bathroom. So many memories of home were made in that house. From riding our big wheels down the sidewalk, to ramping our bikes, to playing basketball in the barn lot, to all the many days working outside in the yard or garden, or jumping out of the top of the barn into the soft straw down below… it was home.
We eat Sunday dinner each week at my childhood home. Even though my home is now some 25 minutes away in Lynchburg, I am still drawn back home to my roots. Are you thinking of home now? Are you sitting near a window as the sun shines in on you, warming your skin, maybe bringing back a memory of your youth?
I think home means different things to different people. In the movie “Forrest Gump,” Jenny, Forrest’s childhood friend, didn’t care for home. Home held such pain and terrible memories. I can’t say that for myself. Home has always been a safety net and a place of comfort and warmth. I feel such pain for those who do not have such a place to call home.
One such memory for me was a trip back home from a summer vacation in Florida. My wife and I traveled with her sister and family to Fort Myers, Fla. It was a 16 hour drive down, but the way home was brutal. We left in the morning and the traffic was much worse, with several accidents along the way. With the kids awake for the trip home, we had to stop more than on the trip down. Our total driving time home was 20 hours. I can remember thinking that I wasn’t going to make it. My body was not enjoying the trip at all. When finally, something gave me that second wind as we were traveling north up Interstate 275. I saw it in the distance. It was like the weight of the world had lifted from my shoulders. That familiar bridge with the “Welcome to Ohio” sign. Home! Those last 60 minutes flew by as I knew that familiar white house on the hill was awaiting us.
Can you visualize what home means to you?
One of my favorite songs during the Christmas season is “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” What a great thought, that we yearn for something. “Home.” It holds such a special part of us. I have been very fortunate that my current home is so close to everything else that is home to me. It is now the home that my children will always remember and long to return to. A place of love, comfort and safety. It’s home.
My final thought takes me back to a sad time in my life, but also a happy time. I know that sounds confusing, but the day we said goodbye to my father symbolizes what I have been attempting to get across with these meager words. As people were funneling through the line at my father’s visitation, they spoke words of comfort that still touch my heart today. But one of them — and I can’t even tell you who said this — as they were talking to me about my Dad and sensing my deep sorrow, said, “You can rest easy. He is home. He is safe.”
I loved hearing my dad sing the words to this song in that very church:
“Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling; calling for you and for me. See on the portals, he’s waiting and watching, watching for you and for me. Come home, come home. Ye who are weary, come home!”
May home always be where your heart is, and always cherish that even when it may seem far away, it is closer than you can even imagine. It is where we make it, and if you sit very still in a quiet place, I bet you can feel or hear it. Let all of the noise around you dissipate and let the stillness of the moment speak to you.
It is all around you and within you. It’s home.
Chad E. McConnaughey is the Highland County recorder.