This weekend my husband and I traveled several hours to return home to the village of my childhood. I hadn’t been there for at least 10 years, perhaps longer - probably not since my mother’s passing.
I once heard Mineral Ridge described as the longest and narrowest town in Ohio. I’m sure that’s not true, but it is long and it was narrow when the statement was made. It’s main street is on a state route running north and south. I suppose Main Street is perhaps a mile long, and all of it runs downhill to the south - or uphill to the north, depending on your perspective. One long, straight, gradual hill. On either side of Main Street are short side streets - the shortest ones on the west side, the longer ones on the east side. These days, the Ridge has expanded eastward into what used to be beautiful fields and country roads.
We drove northward from the freeway, through the (new) light at the south end of Main Street, up the hill through what was now unfamiliar. Stores and buildings that had been there were gone. Empty spaces had new buildings. A few original-to-my-childhood buildings remained: the post office; the building that once housed a hardware store; the high school; the Methodist Church.
At the church we turned down my street. Our house was still there but the beautiful maple trees that had shaded my bedroom window were gone, replaced with small, weeping trees. We passed the next house, then came to my grandmother’s and grandfather’s home. Oh! It had been remuddled almost beyond recognition. I learned that it had been condemned, then purchased with the intent to fix it, then abandoned. It sat empty, alone - home to no family.
A few minutes later we arrived at my sister’s and her husband’s home. We were warmly welcomed. They’d invited lots of family to come visit with their son, his girlfriend, and their daughter, who had come to visit from California. There were about 20 of us from that side of the family, including my only living aunt, my brother and his wife, my niece and her family, and cousins. It was good to be in the bosom of family again where love and acceptance allows us to overlook imperfections, short-comings, and differences of opinion.
I usually think of home as a place, but realized, again, that home may not always be a place. But when one is with family one is always home.
Thank you, Marsha and Chuck, for welcoming us to your home. You are great hosts.
Copyright © 2010 by Nancy Messier.