Home Is Where The Heart …Or Is It?

The moment when you realise that the place you grew up in for so long is no longer home. And you wonder where home will be………”

A friend tweeted this a few weeks ago . There were some interesting responses. Agreeing. Empathy. Sympathy. Cyber hugs.

And me?  I don’t think I responded, but it did remind me of that old saying “Home is where the heart is”

But we all move around so much these days, where is that?

Is  it your childhood home ? And if you move during those formative years?  Which is the one that has a special place in  your heart ?

I have no memories of the house I lived in with my Birth Mother as a very small child, but do have vague ones of the day I came to live with my adoptive Mum and Dad. Though I am not sure if there are true memories or stories I’ve been told.

We lived in a house near the hospital Dad worked in. It was a warm, cosy, noisy place, with  a very large garden, with big plum and apple trees which my (very) older brothers would hide in from me,then jump out and scare me half to death! When  I was a little bigger they would help me to climb them…usually running off and pretending to leave me stranded!

We moved from there when I was about 5, and I lived at the new house until I was 17, and left to commence my training. I always thought of this as ‘home’ So is that where my heart lay?

Then what happens when you leave home?

Who remembers lying in a strange bed, in a strange room on their first night away from home….crying and longing to be back there,even though you couldn’t wait to get away.

And what if your parents move house after you’ve left home? How does that make you feel?  Does the new house ever feel like home?

Mum and Dad moved to a new house in a completely new town after I’d left to start my training. The first time I went back it certainly didn’t feel  like home to me. Nothing familiar or comforting in ‘my’ bedroom, it could as well have been a hotel. And it never really felt like home. My heart was definitely not there. And there were no real emotions when the house was cleared and sold after Dad died. Yet when I pass my childhood home I am still amazed by the waves of nostalgia that sweep over me, and the vivid memories that instantly come to mind. In fact that could be a whole new blog!

There have been other place I’ve called ‘home’. Nurse’s homes, flats, house shares. Some of which I remember with great fondness, and other that I can barely recall. So I guess you could say my heart never really lay there.

Then there’s your first ‘proper home of your own’ You know the one, the first time you feel really grown up. You’re in a relationship, it’s the ultimate commitment to set up home together. Ours was a three storey town house. It was the first time I was able to have a dog again. We lived there until our daughter was 1, then moved to a bigger place with a proper garden.

But I think a little piece of my heart will always be there. It was probably one of the  happiest periods of my life. Master Chef lives there now, so I’m often there, and although it looks very different now, if I close my eyes I can still be transported back to those early, heady days.

And then the house we bought  became  full of children and truly became ‘home’ It’s filled with memories, and every crack, scuff, and mark reminds me of a story…of growing, laughing, fighting, dancing children, assortments of pets, and troupes of friends. As the family increased and grew the house shrank. We considered moving but  ended up building a large extension…just as K was leaving to go to university. And, although she has never said, I think the whole feel of the house changed for her, and it was never quite the ‘home’ it had been.

Over the years we’ve had various boyfriends and girlfriends living here. K and G lived here for 4 months (with a small baby!) after they sold their first home and before they moved into their new one.

A  moved out and back  in on a number of occasions. The last time complete with the girlfriend who he is marrying in 4 months

And although all the children have moved out, if I ever mention moving I am shouted down by a chorus of ” Oh, but Mum, it won’t be home”

Yet sometimes, when everyone has gone back to their own homes, I look around….and despite the wonderful memories It feels  that maybe the heart (or my heart) has gone from here.

And I don’t really know where it is.

But  then they all come back for the day and I remember.

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Sunday Reflections

Another Sunday nearly over.

Children and grandchildren have gone home.

And as I sit here, in the now peace and quiet, I find myself thinking what Sundays have meant to me over the years

As a child, getting up and going to Mass. Being scolded for fidgeting during Father’s sermon

Sunday afternoons as a teenager, meeting friends and spending the time talking and laughing…. Usually about the latest pop sensation or boy we were ‘in love with’ . Then panicking about unfinished homework that had to be handed in the next morning !

The Sunday afternoon I left home to start my nurse training. Being driven to the Nurse’s Home by Mum and Dad. Feeling both terrified and excited at the same time. Meeting the  girls in my ‘set’ for the first time… All us pretending to be suave and worldly-wise!  And  meeting J, who would become my lifelong friend , and with whom I shared many adventures.

That first Sunday evening when we all went to a local hotel bar to ‘bond’… Not that we used such a term in those days!…..and all took a cigarette from ‘T’. it was the very first one I had ever tried! By the next day 9 of the 12 girls were ‘smokers’!  I smoked for the next  17 years before giving up.

Then, when I was living in a flat with a group of friends,and off duty. Long, lazy Sundays curled up on one of the girl’s beds discussing and dissecting the previous Saturday evening’s shenanigans! Sharing the happiness of some, and comforting others whose Saturdays had been less than good.

Being the only one in the house getting up at 5.30 to get ready for work on a dark and cold Sunday morning….often after only having gone   to bed at 3!…..and feeling very hard done by.

When the children were small, and I was still ward based, making the most of Sundays off with them. Heading to the beach or forest for adventures.

Then as they became teenagers themselves, lying awake in the early hours of Sunday mornings waiting to hear the door open, and knowing they were home safe and sound before I could sleep

The Sunday we drove K to university for the first time, and I cried all the way home. Master Chef insisted on sleeping in her bed, and he cried all night.

The Sunday K and G got married. There had been torrential rain all week, and the planned ceremony in a gazebo by a lake was looking less and less likely. Then Sunday arrived with brilliant blue skies, and hot sunshine. Somebody had answered our prayers.

Going to London to celebrate my Birth Mother’s 70th birthday by having Sunday afternoon tea at the Dorchester.

And now?

Now that all the children have flown the nest

Sundays can be long and lonely…..too quiet

They are usually filled with the normal humdrum of washing, cleaning, and the dreaded supermarket dash.

Sometimes a few of  ‘us girls’ will head out somewhere for a long and leisurely breakfast.

And of course, whenever possible,  long walks on a beach somewhere.

But the Sundays I look forward to most?

The ones when all the children, their respective partners, and my beloved grandsons all descend for Sunday lunch.

And once again the house is filled with noise, love and laughter