Jerry and I made a long weekend trip home to Illinois this past week. We were both born and raised in Streator, Illinois. When you haven't been "home" for a while, some things may look different. A few years ago, for instance, we saw a couple of wind turbines for the first time. This time there were hundreds of these tall, graceful, hypnotic icons of the future -- rising up out of the corn and bean fields of farms that have been in the same families for generations. That was new...and fascinating.
But going home is more than just seeing what physical changes have occurred. What old, familiar buildings have been well maintained and which have been allowed to decay. Home is about people. On Saturday, we saw lots of my relatives as we gathered to say goodbye at a memorial service for my Aunt Leona. Cousins from Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Arizona, Indiana and Illinois got together and it was wonderful to see them all. This aunt was on my father's side of the family, but some cousins from my mother's side of the family showed up as well and it was great to seee them, too.
Since we were in town for only a short time, we also wanted to see other family and friends. On Sunday, Jerry's family got together and, as is usually the case, there was lots of good food and lots of laughs.
We also got to spend some time with our good friends, Bob and Joan. We got to eat a pork tenderloin sandwich, go to Steve's Bakery to bring a cinnamon roll home for Jess, and get some Cunningham's Whips. Ahhh...the good things of "home".
Even though it was the shortest visit in the history of vacations, we went to Sheridan to see our BFFs Ken and Shirley and spend the night with them. Yes, it's a little father drive in the wrong direction...but I couldn't be that close and not see their faces and hug their necks. Sheridan is the "home" where we lived for 12 years before coming to Georgia and where we raised our children. There is something in my soul that requires a visit there whenever possible.
But after all the driving, visiting, eating, more driving, more eating, winery stops, still more eating and much more driving...it felt really good to get back "home". Our yard is still at it's blooming peak and strawberries are waiting for us to go pick them with the grandkids. So what -- or where -- is "home"? Is it wherever you hang your hat; is it where your heart is; is it where everyone knows your name; is it where you get your mail; is it where you were born? I think for me the second definition fits. And if home is where my heart is, then I have been so blessed to have so many places I call "home" and so many wonderful and important people in each of those places.