Rooted — 20 Comments

  1. 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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