Posted by: CeCe | March 25, 2012

You can never go home again

I’ve been thinking lately about my mom’s house.  When I was growing up, there was always a certain feeling I got from being home.  My mom often had fresh flowers in the house, especially after she began working as a delivery driver at a florist shop, so the house often smelled of flowers.  It was also very clean; my mom had no problem with a little bit of clutter, but she would never let the dust take up residence for too long before it was being banished by a rag and some Old English.  We moved several times when I was a child, first from Washington State to South Carolina, then from South Carolina to California, and from California back up to Washington State.  Every single time we moved each house began to feel like home within days.  The hide-a-bed couch always went in the family room, along with the blue recliners that didn’t match the couch in the least bit, along with the green and orange afghan that didn’t match the chairs or the couch, and the bookcases, which contained more books than I could count, and which I spent many days exploring.  The beautiful flowered sofa and love-seat that my parents bought when I was about four went in the living room, along with all the figurines and other knickknacks my parents had acquired over the years (some of which are now in my possession).

As the years went by, I was home less and less, and much of the furniture that I associated with my childhood began to be replaced piece by piece, or disappeared altogether.  First to go were the recliners, then the ugly hide-a-bed, and finally the beautiful flowered furniture that was still in almost pristine condition 14 years after it was purchased. In between all this time, my mom sold the house we first moved into after we came to Washington, and moved out to a trailer in a senior park.  Even amidst all these changes, one thing remained the same:  Wherever my mom lived, whatever furniture she had in the house, it didn’t matter; the house was still home.  I never even lived in the trailer, as she purchased it after I moved out, but it was still home, even from the first time I stepped through the door.  It was as natural as breathing.   No matter where my mom lived or what kind of furniture she had, each house in which she lived bore her touch, and her eye for coordinating colors and patterns, and the smell of her perfume.

Since Mom passed away almost three years ago (which I still find hard to believe) I’ve come to the realization that I can never go home again.  Wherever Mom lived, whatever furniture she had, she and her home were my roots.  I can never have that again.  Oh sure, maybe eventually my husband and I will be in a position to plant our own roots, but never again will I walk through the door of my mom’s house and have that feeling of coming home, of my childhood, of Saturday morning cartoons and pancakes, of eggs in the nest, of fresh flowers meticulously cared for by my mom’s gentle hand, of daddy singing bass and momma singing tenor, of record players and 8-tracks, of lace doilies and loose talcum powder in a cameo-topped plastic dish, of lipstick stains on a three-way mirror (I did that, when I was four), of polished silver and fine bone china (Spode, if I’m not mistaken; my sister and I each inherited a set), of Russian tea and freshly baked persimmon cookies at Christmastime, of huge family dinners every Sunday… all of these were home for me, and now they’re gone.

This is part of losing parents.  Even long after you leave home and you’ve got your roots firmly planted and are raising children of your own, there’s something about walking through the door of your parents’ home, and being reminded once again of your own childhood, which for most people is gently filtered through a rose-colored lens.  Once your parents are gone, so is that home.  You can never go there again.

Sure, I carry my parents with me in my heart, and I sometimes hear them in my mind, and every once in a while I catch a whiff of Old Spice and pipe tobacco or fresh flowers and Skin So Soft, but the home itself is gone forever.  I can never go back, except in my mind.



  1. This piece touches my heart, your mom was a beautiful woman inside and out. Your home was always welcoming, and your mother made sure that no matter who entered they felt like it was home.

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