Friday, August 17, 2012

Missing the Home Place

 by Babs Mountjoy

Ours is a mobile society, which is one of the blessings of living in a country like America. We have freedom to travel and a good number of our citizens have the financial wherewithal to do so. Once I graduated from college, I moved away from home, first out West, then down South, and then back to the Northeast over many years.

All three of my daughters have taken advantage of this mobility, too—the oldest has been a Navy girl, and then a Navy wife, traveling to Japan, Guam, Florida and Washington State. (She even pointed out when she moved to Washington that I had to come visit her now because she’d moved closer—it might have been closer than Guam, but it was still nearly three thousand miles from PA!)

Now daughter # 2 is ensconced with a husband and new baby in Reno, Nevada and the third is in Asheville, NC, working as a pastry chef at the Biltmore Estate. They’re all doing very well. But are they missing out?

Our small town is full up with families who have lived here for generations. Son lives here, his dad and mom live here, his grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, all here too. That sense of home is here, too. A dozen people I could name right off the top of my head could hop in the car and go to grandma’s house within fifteen minutes. That’s a real gift, in my book.

When I was a kid, my parents were divorced, and we spent a lot of time at the grandparents’ homes. Those places were havens of safety and comfort for me, one an Indiana farmhouse, another a small suburban house outside Youngstown. Just walking up the front steps created a wonderful feeling in my heart. I continued to go for years, even after I grew up and had my own family, and the same feeling persisted.

 But one by one, my grandparents passed away. At the farmhouse, my aunt and uncle moved in and took over the property. As of that moment, we have never been welcome in the same way. The same when my father gave up his parents’ home and sold it to strangers.  (They took down the big trees out front and painted it GRAY!) The experience people here in town have, where they can always go to “grandma’s house” because some other family member has it and treasures those warm fuzzies, is something I no longer have.

 The same is true for my girls. My father’s home is gone, and recently their father’s mother gave up the home where they spent every summer of their childhood. So they’ve lost that sweet security as well. Maybe they wouldn’t have visited as often, now that they’re off and involved with their own lives. But now they can't.

It seems that in this freedom we have to travel, we’ve lost something, that feeling of security and always knowing where “home” is. Thomas Wolfe, of course, said we can’t go home again. But I’m not sure he’d say that was a good thing. I’m pretty sure it isn’t. I miss my girls, and I wish we all still had a place to go together that meant “family.” How about you? Is there a home place that your family shares, or have your loved ones scattered to the winds, too?

Barbara “Babs” Mountjoy has written since she was a little girl, unable to restrain the stories that percolated through her fingers onto her keyboard – or, back then, onto the old Royal typewriter. Babs has been a published author for more than thirty-five years, with a number of publications under her belt. Her non-fiction book, 101 LITTLE INSTRUCTIONS FOR SURVIVING YOUR DIVORCE, was published by Impact Publishers in 1999. Her first novel, THE ELF QUEEN, was released under the pen name Lyndi Alexander in 2010. THE ELF QUEEN launched her Clan Elves of the Bitterroot series, under which the second and third titles, THE ELF CHILD and THE ELF MAGE, released in 2011 and 2012.Hydra Publication has just released her latest novel, LOVE ME, KISS ME, KILL ME, a supernatural mystery, available at and Barnes and

 Wild Rose Press released her romantic suspense novels, SECRETS IN THE SAND, in 2011, and, CONVICTION OF THE HEART, in June 2012. Wild Rose Press will also release Babs’ THAT GIRL’S THE ONE I LOVE in September 2012. Zumaya Publications published her women’s fiction title, SECOND CHANCES, in July 2012. Babs is a contributor to two CUP OF COMFORT anthologies. She blogs about autism, writing and life at, and spent seven years of her career as a news reporter and editor in South Florida. Her romances/womens fiction books are published under the pen name Alana Lorens, and her fantasy/sci-fi under the pen name LyndiAlexander.


Susan S. said...

Beautiful post, Babs. Perhaps ironically, it's the opposite for me. I grew up with my family scattered to the winds! My dad's mother lived a few hundred miles away and we'd visit her every so often, but my mother's parents and elder sister came round for Christmas each year, and we'd drive out to Florida to spend some time with my great-grandmother on the same side of the family. Then we moved, and the house that has been in our family since my mother was about 10 has changed hands about 5 times in 15 years. My sister and I went to opposite ends of the country for college, and then after graduation I moved somewhere else entirely to be with my now-husband. Sis is back home. My great-uncle is preparing to sell the home in Florida that he added on to and lived in for many years, but my aunt still holds the key to my grandparent's home in NM and plans to retire there so that we can keep the darling little adobe home in the least for a while longer.

But with my husband's family, his parents and brother's family are all still here in town. He and I live in the house he grew up in, which at one time had 4 generations living in it. They also have a decent smattering of family just one or two states away to the west and northeast. My daughter visits with his parents for overnights at least once a month...which was very hard for me to adapt to despite the need for some ME time, because I had never experienced it myself. I suspect that the first to 'leave' will be our nephew when he graduates, because he's a bit of a wandering soul, but I'm sure he'll always end up coming back around to Nana and Papa's as that safe place.

Marilyn said...

Babs, We all need to feel we're not alone, and reading your message reminded me I'm not alone in missing my children who live in faraway places. I visit my son, daughter and grandkids every 2 years. Then I take my memories home with me til next time. We do live in a scattered world, in more ways than one, and I too wonder just how good is that.
Thank you for your post.


tomynate said...

Great article, but sad in a way. I remember both of my grandmothers houses. The had their unique smells and looks. Both are no longer in the family. My childhood home was sold years ago and it makes my heart sick to go back and see it in a rundown uncared for fashion. It's up to me to create those places for my children although, due to more than one divorce the homes my sons knew are gone as well as their grandparent's homes. My wife, Barbara, on the other hand, has lived in our house for 30 years and my extended family still have the benefit of their childhood home and the grandkids have grandma's house. We never know what will happen when we're gone, but then it's up to that generation to develop their own 'feel good' things.


Tom Blubaugh, Author
Night of the Cossack

Barbara Mountjoy said...

Thanks, all for stopping by and sharing. It's good to know we're not alone, for sure.

Diane Dean White said...

It's truly a transit world today, Barbara. I can well identify with those feelings. Both sets of my grandparents lived in the same town and house all of their married lives. Our son is on the mission field with his wife, our daughter and grands are in China, as her hubbies business sent him over. I want those old Sunday dinners with family members and lazy summer afternoons riding bikes with my girl friends. Thomas Wolfe always wrote "Look Homeward Angel." I guess he knew we'd want to go home again..... Thanks for sharing. Love the pics. :)

Anonymous said...

Your post is lovely, Barbara. Creates a nostalgic feeling in me, but family rifts can cause creases in the pictures, and that 'old welcoming place' can change. We all hope it won't happen in OUR family, but I look around at many friends, and it DOES happen.

In such situations our generation has the delight of creating a new "Grandma's house" for our own grandchildren - at least, this is my reality. Reading your post reminded me of how important that is, even though it can be exhausting! Thank you so much.

Gail K.

Barbara Mountjoy said...

It's true that home is where the heart is, and like you say, Gail, sometimes that takes a bit of work to bring to reality. Thanks for leaving your wise words. :)

Janice D. Green said...

I can definitely feel your pain. I only knew one grandparent and that not all that well. We were the family that moved into her home place, and later were forced to relocate so my father could get work. My parents' home was sold so they could scale down to a condo, which was also sold later. I am divorced with my daughter's blessings, so her visits "home" include step-parents. I've often shared my regrets with her that she doesn't have a happy "home" to come home to. She lives 425 miles away with her family including my three grandkids. I am writing books for children, and feel I must do so in a vacuum.

Barbara Mountjoy said...

We like to know we have "roots"--even if home isn't the place they always have to take you in, because of family circumstances. Everyone's made good points here. Sometimes we have to create our own "nests" and I think that we can approach this task with a certain creativity and freedom, not being trapped by the past. Make that nest what YOU want it to be. :)