Rooted — 20 Comments

  1. Here was the trip (about 2,700 miles):
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    Reminds me of a poem written by Albert Edgar Guest (born in England, but moved to the United States with his family – was known as the “Peoples Poet.” I think you might relate to this poem.


    It takes a heap o’ livin’ in a house t’ make it home,
    A heap o’ sun an’ shadder, an’ ye sometimes have t’ roam
    Afore ye really ’preciate the things ye lef’ behind,
    An’ hunger fer ’em somehow, with ’em allus on yer mind.
    It don’t make any differunce how rich ye get t’ be,
    How much yer chairs an’ tables cost, how great yer luxury;
    It ain’t home t’ ye, though it be the palace of a king,
    Until somehow yer soul is sort o’ wrapped round everything.

    Home ain’t a place that gold can buy or get up in a minute;
    Afore it’s home there’s got t’ be a heap o’ livin’ in it;
    Within the walls there’s got t’ be some babies born, and then
    Right there ye’ve got t’ bring ‘em up t’ women good, an’ men;
    And gradjerly, as time goes on, ye find ye wouldn’t part
    With anything they ever used—they’ve grown into yer heart:
    The old high chairs, the playthings, too, the little shoes they wore
    Ye hoard; an’ if ye could ye’d keep the thumbmarks on the door.

    Ye’ve got t’ weep t’ make it home, ye’ve got t’ sit an’ sigh
    An’ watch beside a loved one’s bed, an’ know that Death is nigh;
    An’ in the stillness o’ the night t’ see Death’s angel come,
    An’ close the eyes o’ her that smiled, an’ leave her sweet voice dumb.
    Fer these are scenes that grip the heart, an’ when yer tears are dried,
    Ye find the home is dearer than it was, an’ sanctified;
    An’ tuggin’ at ye always are the pleasant memories
    O’ her that was an’ is no more—ye can’t escape from these.

    Ye’ve got t’ sing an’ dance fer years, ye’ve got t’ romp an’ play,
    An’ learn t’ love the things ye have by usin’ ’em each day;
    Even the roses ’round the porch must blossom year by year
    Afore they ’come a part o’ ye, suggestin’ someone dear
    Who used t’ love ’em long ago, an’ trained ’em jes’ t’ run
    The way they do, so’s they would get the early mornin’ sun;
    Ye’ve got t’ love each brick an’ stone from cellar up t’ dome:
    It takes a heap o’ livin’ in a house t’ make it home.

  2. Welcome back and welcome home to both Katharyn and you!!! Dagmar

  3. Nancy, thanks for the Edgar Guest. Despite the popular (“people’s”) sing-songy quality and the arch dialog, he hits some deeper notes than I touched upon. It’s interesting to me that some of Guest’s “home” factors have more or less fallen out of our culture: home births, dying at home. There are movements to bring back both of these. Here’s the site of a friend of mine, Peg Lorenz, who is a home funeral guide in Massachusetts.

  4. Thanks Dagmar! We’ll see you tonight at the block party, and sooner about that other item. (Block party: that’s one more thing that cements a neighborhood together.)

  5. Clearly, Home is more than a place or even a community of people, but it is a Relationship. As I lived in Groton and raised my children there, the home-ness of it grew slowly. When I joined First Parish, it grew a little stronger. When I started to serve my church community in various ways, my Home Experience become stronger again. But the most dramatic sense of Belonging came to me when I started to see that my community (especially my church family) changed a little because I was there. Home is the place, people, and time in which we become entwined.

  6. Excellent points, Rocky. We used to say in that church community, to each person who arrived, that we had not been complete until they came. It occurs to me we might have been lucky in having settled a minister who, while leading the community spiritually, welcomed and was open to the influences and ideas of the community members. That might turn out to be a rare thing.

    Another way of saying it: Home is where & when & with whom you commit.

  7. Home to me is everything. A warm cozy cocoon in which to crawl into after the world has worn you out. A place that makes you sigh in relief. It has not always been so. This place has witnessed our anger, our pain, our discord, our injuries, both physical and spiritual, our tears, our sorrows. But it has housed weddings, and birthdays, showers, retirement parties, funerals, Thanksgiving, Christmas, graduations parties, first birthday parties, 60th birthday parties, New Year’s Eve parties, Father’s Day and Mother’s Day, pajama parties, Easter dinner. It has been a soft place to fall for countless lost children and grandchildren and friend’s children, and friends of our children. Many times it has become a little hospital, with a bed in the living room; a nice little hotel room with a fireplace. A place to heal after terrible illness and injury and surgeries. It has been here to bear witness to our lives. It has not yet witnessed death, but we hope to be in it when my husband and I close our eyes for good.

    Maybe it will not take you that long to feel that this is your true home. That photo of the rural road with ferns and lovely greenery looks exactly like northern Minnesota. Maybe a little drive up north during this amazingly glorious weather will soothe you.

  8. Beautiful, thank you Linda. You and Mr. Guest offer a surpassingly rich view of “home” and the feelings it invokes. The greatest possible contrast with the bleakness of Frost’s “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”

    I selected that public-domain photo to represent the mystery and the yearning of the road. I considered for 5 seconds trying to find an image for home, but abandoned the idea for all the complex reasons we all have been discussing here.

  9. I had another thought. At least you are from a climate that changes. You should not have a complete breakdown when it is cold and it snows. Like if you moved here from San Diego or something. And you can still listen to Praire Home Companion and reruns of Car Talk.

    Love those guys. Sad one died. I love the way they talk. Do you have the Boston accent? So if I meet you at Widmers, I will know it is you?

    The singsongy Minnesotan can be charming but also very annoying at times. Doncha know. Gee…

    I remember reading that when Charlize Theron was learning the northern Minnesota dialect when she was preparing for the movie “North Country,” that it was the most difficult to learn of any she was challenged with before. Good movie about the first class action suit which took place in the mines of northern Minnesota. Strong and brave gals.

  10. Linda — yes, I don’t expect winter to be too much of a shock to the system. Massachusetts doesn’t get as cold as Minnesota, but it’s in the vicinity. And I know how to drive in snow & ice & sleet & freezing fog.

    No Boston accent here. I grew up in Maryland on the DC border. Pretty much your standard mid-American TV announcer voice. (You might recognize me by my avatar on the About page though.)

  11. Thanks Keith.

    You are right – dying at home is becoming more frequent particularly with hospice availability as Medicare covers the costs of hospice. Hospice also generally is a very caring way for the dying and their families. Living at home, as we age, is considered part of a quality life by many seniors.

    There is a terrific 2014 book by physician Atul Gawande entitled Being Mortal that discusses seniors and quality of life — independence vs. safety — traditional medical treatment vs. palliative care, etc.

    Gawande actually spoke at the Saint Paul River Center on 2015-09-18 for the Hospice and Palliative organization, of which I am a member, to a sold-out crowd of 2500 people. I was fortunate to be on waiting list and get a ticket. Lots of research supporting his theories. A very well-written book.

  12. Nancy — I’m a huge fan of Atul Gawande; been reading him in the New Yorker for a good while now. (And I follow him on Twitter.) He did a piece some years back on how doctors die: those who see what old people go through in hospitals at end-of-life usually opt for hospice at home themselves. That piece might have been what put Gawande on the path that led to Being Mortal.

    I wish I had known about his talk here. But then it sounds like tickets would have been difficult to score.

  13. Wow, Keith. I just looked at your freind’s website. I am a registered nurse and have provided hospices and palliative care to my patients for years. Dying at home absolutely is what most people desire, and supporting this end of life care has become more of the norm if famlilies and patients desire this. My 99-year-old father is at home in his apartment with family and friends caring for him with the support of hospice home care. He still loves to eat and flirt with gals and watch sports.

    But I never even thought about a home funeral!!! Good grief. Why not? My husband has given all of us strict orders that he does not want a wake and funeral. I have been at a loss as how to proceed with him honoring his wishes. He is greatly loved by many. We are Catholic, and he is Irish. So you can see the problem here.

    I am so grateful for this dialogue. Thank you and your contributors. A home funeral… we can do this.

  14. Linda, this is fantastic. I will be happy to connect you with Peg. Or you can call or email her from the info on her site; tell her I sent you. She is generous with her time and her expertise is wide-ranging. (If I recall, Peg is doing a stint as president of the National Home Funeral Alliance at the moment.) She can connect you with people and resources in Minnesota. Some of that you can find on her site.

    (Full disclosure: I worked with Peg on her site over the last few years; I designed, developed, and host it.)

  15. Hi Keith. It was so wonderful to see you and Katharyn on Sunday. Come see us as often as you can.

    Myself, I always liked Robert Frost’s definition of home. “Home,” he wrote in The Death of the Hired Man, “is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” But then, I recognize that there are some for whom there is no such place, which makes it a bit poignant.

    We have the Easterner transplanted to the Midwest experience in common. In my case, it happened a bit earlier in life when I left Massachusetts to attend college in Illinois in the fall of 1962. And while I eventually returned to Massachusetts, it took a while. In the interim, I spent roughly 14 years in the Midwest before returning to the East Coast (NY State and then CT), and then finally coming home to MA.

    My Midwest tour encompassed Illinois (8 years), Omaha (two and a half years years), Kansas City, MO (half a year), and finally Madison, WI (3 years). It was in Illinois that I completed my higher education, met and married my wife, and slowly adjusted to things Midwestern. It was in Illinois that I encountered pizza sticker shock (pizza prices in the Chicago area were at that time roughly 3 times those in my MA home town of Foxboro). Discovered that attempts to order an “orange tonic” or a “frappe” never ended well, and that I had a New England accent.

    The latter inevitably generated so much commentary that I became quite self-conscious about it. Family counsel was of little help. My mother, a life long New Englander, insisted that it was Midwesterners who “talked funny” whereas New Englanders not only didn’t have an accent, but were the only people in the country who could make that claim. Unfortunately, my German instructor did not agree, and at one point sent me to the language lab with instructions to listen more carefully to the corresponding course lessons and not come back until I could the difference between my pronunciation and that on the tapes. It was all quite public and embarrassing, but it worked. By the end of my sophomore year, people were no longer remarking about my accent — except for my highly disappointed mother, who sadly observed that like my sister, who had preceded me to the Midwest, I had come home “talking funny.”

  16. Irv, sounds like you had an introduction by fire and the sword to the Midwest accent. I don’t expect to acquire the accent here, this late in life (except for deliberate effect, perhaps after a few beers). Some people excel at mimicry and pick up accents quickly and without effort. I’m not one of those.

  17. I am thrilled to read a bit about Peg and look forward to exploring her site.

    Here in Oregon (to which I moved late in life) I have been active with the Oregon Memorial Association (for awhile called Funeral Consumers, with its own Educational Foundation, now returned to its original name) and have friends involved with “green” funerals and funerals at home. It’s a constant fight to keep State politicians, here based in Salem, from over-regulating the latter.

    Val refers to this as, “That time you became chair of a 501(c)(3) and didn’t tell me for six months.” We’re both still members, as are my parents and anyone else I can convince of its awesomeness.

  18. Do get in touch with Peg, she is good people. Extremely. She helped my by phone while Marcia was dying in Santa Fe and I was agonizing in St. Paul.

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