Friday, October 10, 2008

Missing home

Saturday morning, I spoke with Momma on a marathon two hour telephone call. We discussed everything from her trip to Oregon to Christmas decorating plans, and I must admit it was comforting to talk with Momma over my Saturday morning coffee.

There have been only three times in my life when I did not live within a mile of my parents – college, a couple of months in London and when I moved to Winona a year ago.

Always the independent one in my family, I could not wait to get to college and begin a new chapter in my life. When I decided to study in England, I had no second thoughts. I packed up and flew nine hours to a foreign country – all alone and loved every minute of it. When Winona beckoned, once again, I took the leap and have not regretted one minute of my decision.

Despite my independence and my self-reliance, sometimes I get a little homesick. I want to have my parents dote on me, cook for me, nurture me, and best of all, sleep in my childhood bed and forget about being an adult for just a short time.

Now, remember, if I lived just a mile down the road from my parents like I did before moving to Winona, they would not be nearly as excited to see me. But since I live more than an hour away, it seems like my visits are one big welcome home party.

My sisters come to greet me, and we do not fight (I know, but it is possible). My parents usually plan a special meal – either steaks on the grill or dinner out. Everyone wants to hear about things in Winona, and I am expected to entertain them with stories of my new friends, home, and community. (As the youngest, I love the attention. If you would like, I could perform the number from my fourth grade dance recital – for applause, of course).

After some seriously good sleep in the most familiar bed, Momma wakes me early with fresh coffee. The two of us sit at the kitchen counter until Daddy graces us with his presence and a serious case of bed-head.

Ah, the crazy things you miss when you leave home!

Now that I am not in the everyday drama of my crazy family, I think I might have taken for granted some things that I find so special now.

For example, Daddy can annoy the heck out of someone with the Six Degrees of a Sexton game.

The game goes like this: “Do you remember Joe Johnson? Now, he went to school with your cousin, Cindy Lou. Cindy Lou is Uncle Homer’s daughter from over in Sarah. You remember her from the family reunion – sweet girl, but not attractive. You might be if she would do something with that hair. You know, Uncle Homer is your Granddaddy’s second cousin. Aunt Lorrine’s boy. Well, anyway, he went to school with Cindy Lou over at Lake Cormorant. He died last week. Can you believe that? He was only 87-years-old.”

When I was younger, I would want to stab myself in the eye during one of these conversations, but now, I call Daddy to hear about family happenings and local tidbits. Daddy should have been the reporter in the family. He can relay information like National Public Radio and never miss a detail. Through Daddy’s reports, I never miss a thing.

I also miss the insane conversations my parents have with each other – about absolutely nothing!

A conversation occurred on the way to Hot Springs, Ark. A logging truck pulled alongside our car on I-40. It went something like this.

Momma: “I wonder what kind of wood that is?”

Daddy: “I believe it’s pine.”

Momma: “Yeah. It’s pine.”

The miracle is that my parents found each other. The Lord knows no one else would have either of them.

Growing up with two older sisters was not something I would like to relive. In fact, it is shocking I lived the first go-around. However, I wouldn’t have changed anything – a scar, loss of hearing in my right ear, arthritis in my knee.

Despite the fighting, whining, and lack of sharing, having sisters was such a blessing for me. I can’t ever remember a time growing up that I actually felt lonely. My sisters were always there, and still when I get down or need to vent, I can call my sisters and act a fool and they never hold it against me. (Well, they can’t. I have too much dirt on them.)

Every child should experience the joy of having a sibling. My best friend, Heather, was an only child, and although her family had enough drama to get her through, she relied on my family for that “Father Knows Best” meets the “Emergency 911” experience. Of course, Heather could always go home to her own family to escape the drama of mine.

I sit here and write nostalgically about my family and their quirky ways held so dearly to me, but I often forget that distance makes the heart grow fonder. If I still lived within shouting distance of my family, I probably wouldn’t be so nostalgic about their crazy ways.

The last time I was home, Momma and I came to a realization. Moving away made me appreciate my family. It definitely made my relationships with my family members stronger, and I treasure my time with them so much more.

It is kind of like babysitting. You play with the baby, love on the baby, cuddle the baby, and sooth the baby. Then the baby cries and the babysitter can give the baby back and head on home.

Love the family. Miss the family. Relish the family. A fight breaks out or someone ends up in the emergency room, and I can always run for the hills – literally.

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