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Grandma Haines is moving to a retirement home this week and breaking up housekeeping, taking only a few things with her. She has given away her furniture but also priceless things, her daddy’s sermon notebook, the family Bible, her childhood purses and dolls, and her mama’s old dishes. She is leaving the church and her esteemed position in it, the horse-field, the house her family built, the fence that Grandpa had repeatedly repaired, and the flowers that still bloom every Spring since her Mama fingered their seeds in the ground. She is leaving this week as the green stalks push up from the leaves. I wonder if last year she took them in, those tulips and day lilies. I wonder if she looked at the roses and breathed in her last memory of them.

My guess is that she didn’t. I think she’s lived 88 years by keeping sentiment for things to a passionate minimum – something I need to learn. She has seemed to transition easily because I think she knows a lot more of what Home means than I do, especially in how I’ve made this house my constant project, taking in what she isn’t going to use so as to make my own home
Even still, no matter how much I put into making this place a home for my family, around this time every year, something shifts in me, and I’d do anything to get back to Alabama. I drop any idea of organization, and I break all plans. Before I had so many young children, I would wake up one morning with a strong notion to get back home, and by noon, I’d be packed and gone. And it’s not even about how much I enjoy myself while I’m there; it’s about a tactile remembering of my innocence, back when Erin and I thought thunder was the sound of angels in a bowling tournament.
Right this minute, I am considering packing up my boys and driving all the way there. I’m almost willing to chance hours of crying babies and trying to juggle them into public restrooms every time I have to go. I want to smell my Mama and listen to my daddy be the smartest man on the planet. I want to go home!
This is why I can’t help but cry when I really think about Grandma’s leaving town. She is leaving home, and not just hers but another one of mine, where Seth and I stayed for 6 years, our little house where we studied poetry and law, where we made our first pots of Cajun spaghetti, and where we cradled our firstborn.
So much in us wants to fight the reality. While I flip through my Traditional Home magazine, I am resisting the truth: I am not home, and I have never been there. I order my attic as if the time we plan to spend in this house is something more than a bouquet that withers as soon as it’s received.
What Grandma Knows
Time here is only the deep breath
one takes before bursting
out into long God-song,
a crescendo of endless recognition.
It is an unlocking of the door
and the twisting of a knob
before entering the real den,
smelling the candles burn,
and seeing the imprint in His chair,
before the long Ahhhh of finally home.
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amberhaines
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5 Comments

Prairie Chick
Reply March 17, 2008

What Gramma KNows...

Oh I LOVE that! This is my motto and the reason I used the word "prologue" in my blog. This life is just a prologue of eternity. You wrote it so beautifully.

Anonymous
Reply March 17, 2008

You made my heart gain a brazillion pounds! I miss you terribly...
Erin

Anonymous
Reply March 17, 2008

Dear Sweet Amber,

NannyMiMi here.

This is my first ever post to a blog! I so want to hug you right now. I was missing the boys this morning...now I miss you, too.

Tears came as I joined you in the moment, this rite of passage for Grandma Haines. She is one step closer to home. She knows she is just passing through...a vapor.

I agree with Erin about the heart gaining pounds, how much is a brazillion anyway?

I love you, sweet Amber Haines. If it wouldn't make you sick as a dog, I would have you come and spend the afternoon with me. We could make tea and let your boys join the camping trip while you tell me some of the sweet stories of your six years in the little house behind Grandma. Sometime soon, okay?

Since I started this post at just before noon, I have served cut up apples, popcorn and vitamin C drink to little ones on a camping trip in our back yard(trampoline with backpacks and towels)...taken three phone calls, had the baby in and out of the backpack and nursed her, snot and all. (We are recovering from the worst cold in the history of ...of...well, a really bad cold.)

She is exactly 1/2 a year old today! She is just beginnig her trek as a vapor on this spinning ball...what a honor to be a mom and help them start with a right perspective.

I have your flan pan (thanks for the death by chocolate) and 7 of your Grandma's antique dessert cups...I didn't go to church yesterday (the cold) but would love to get them back to you.

Suggestions?

Give my boys a hug from Nanny.

I hope this works...now they want me to figure out the letters under this post so I don't give you a bad virus...teehee...computer cold.

Love,

NannyMiMi
(I don't have a google account just yet so I am signing out as anonymous.)

Grams
Reply March 17, 2008

Amber,
What sweet thoughts about Grandma Haines and a beautiful poem to boot. I love to read your blog.

mamaneal

Nicole
Reply March 18, 2008

such sweet words.

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