There’s No Place Like Home
My husband I took a long drive to our daughter’s friend’s house in the boondocks on this mid-morning Sunday. It was her friend’s, plural, because they are twins. It was long because it was in Athol. It was the boondocks because what kind of people live way out there anyway?! Since it wasn’t just a late night drop-off or pick up, and I’d only seen her parents at the school, I went to the door to talk to their Mom and further introduce myself.
My daughter had entered through the garage the night before, so that’s where I knocked. Via daylight, it was a nice piece of property – for Athol. After a second knock, while looking for a doorbell that I wasn’t sure existed on this side of the mountain, I peered in the bay door glass. I’d wanted to see if the connection to the house was open, to determine if they could even hear me.
Instead I determined there was a window to my judgmental heart. There were antique bottles in the opposite windows and they were grouped with other vintage items. These people were either collectors that had antiques I didn’t or had relatives that abandoned their memories to the garage. My heart ached for either circumstance. I loved vintage antiques and family memories. It was too bad that they were all set out to pasture here in the garage.
With a turn of my head, this Grinch felt her heart swell as I also noticed a sign through the window. A presence of calm fell over my entire body as I realized what the sign said. In that moment, it was both a physical and spiritual sign to me. It spoke to me stating, “Listen to the whisper of the Holy Spirit”. I just stared at the sign with a long, quiet pause and let my thoughts and feelings take over that time and place. I knew I wanted to remember this exact moment in my life.
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For several months now I’ve been telling my oldest sister that I am becoming very aware of my surroundings. Every day it is clear that I am right where I need to be in my life. I find reasons why I am in certain places, did not throw certain things away or talked to people I didn’t even know. She and I have shared different situations and it’s allowed me to validate who I am, at least in a business sense or as a wiser woman. I’ve also shared a few examples of my awareness with my father and he’s interpreted it as the Holy Spirit talking to me.
My religion is very personal to me. Yes, I say my prayers, went to Catholic school, feel at peace at Mass, hope for those in need and thank God for my own blessings. I also pray to certain Saints, like St. Anthony, when I cannot find my keys.
In fact, before we’d left to get our daughter, I couldn’t find my keys. It was frustrating because it’s so cliché, I didn’t want to admit it to my husband – who keeps us on schedule and is also helpful to point out that “they are wherever you left them”. It was also frustrating because those keys aren’t easy to miss, since they hang off a wristlet and wallet! That’s also why it wasn’t an option not to find them. The attached wallet had all our money for the day.
Those lost keys were also the reason my husband was maybe not necessarily patiently waiting for me in the driveway anymore. I had originally told him I only needed to put on my sneakers and that I’d be right behind him. After he shut the door and I finished lacing my shoes, I’d noticed my keys weren’t in their usual place. I knew that weren’t far, since I’d used them that morning to take some frames out of my car. So, I walked around the kitchen table, checked the bathroom and looked on the top of my bedroom dresser to quickly find them – no keys.
I brought my bags for the day out to the car and I admitted to my husband that I needed another minute to “find my keys”. His expression said all it needed to as I loaded my journals and my purse. I ran back in the house and retraced my steps where I’d already looked. I ran back outside to see if I’d left them in the other car door or to see if they’d fallen into the trunk when I unloaded the frames – no keys.
My pace was quicker this time when I ran into the house a second time. I went to the cellar when I’d put all the frames on my inventory rack. I looked there and walked the length of the cellar – no keys.
I ran to the second floor and looked around the living room where I’d worked the prior night. Rethinking the morning in my mind, I had also gone upstairs that morning, to collect the stocking stuffers I’d made, the Christmas cards I started and my work computer. I put them all in their proper places as I continued to search – no keys.
I went outside to tell my husband that “this might be awhile” and could he be “my second set of eyes” and come help me?
He didn’t come help me but he did give me a ‘second set of eyes’. Despite me ruining his ideal departure time, the rest of his body language said that he was still fine listening to the radio and using his droid.
If only I’d had R2D2 or C3PO with me as I re-entered the house for the third time. I decided to recheck all three levels of the house. They weren’t upstairs. I’d already cleaned up, had only been in front of the couch and knew I’d be able to see them because I’d done all my crafts and computer work on the floor. NO KEYS.
That brought me downstairs again. I looked in the entry and again the kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. NO KEYS.
Ok, the basement! That’s where I’d put my frames and when I’d last had my keys. They weren’t on the frame shelving, or under it, or the ping pong table, or under it. What was I supposed to do?! NO KEYS.
I answered myself by slowing down. I responded farther and stopped. I calmed down. I acknowledged my God, prayed to St. Anthony and closed my eyes. When I opened my eyes, my key case was in my direct line of sight.
I walked toward my keys realizing it all made sense – physically and spiritually.
They were “exactly where I’d left them”. They were near the frames. They were on the nearby air hockey table. SCORE!
Spiritually, it was several more points of validation. I do need to slow down. There is a God. God is helping us but he does it in his own time”frame” – and for a reason. I’d listened to the Holy Spirit. St. Anthony was the saint of lost things – and finding people.
I walked out the back door feeling redeemed, calm and closer to my God.
Approaching the family car, I also realized I’d be closer to my husband – for 30 miles – in a different kind of silence. It’s refreshing to know, after 22 years of marriage, that we can still communicate without saying a word.
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It was the house that ended the silence after our long journey down the dirt road. Using the knocker on the front door, I entered my Oz. Everything was period gorgeous. Georgious, period. The mahogany three(!)- turn stairwell to my left. The living room with a hardwood backed couch, built-ins and wood floors. Very colonial America with no Americana. Perfect. I knew right away I could live here.
As I scanned the entry way view, the twins told me they were sisters with my daughter.
“Yes, we have the same birthdays!”
“Well, than that means that you are my daughters!” I hugged them both.
My daughter was silently mortified. Clearly this was their thing, not mine.
But I’m still the Mom. And now I’m the Mom of two more.
I told them I was just thinking how much I loved the décor and it was all just what I admired, including the garage.
They said they were sorry for not answering sooner and apologized if I had to witness all the old bottles and ‘stuff’ that their grandfather displayed in there.
I had to stop them right there.
I loved the bottles. I had an epiphany at the garage door. It was related to the sign that said, “Listen to the whisper of the Holy Spirit”.
The twins had been all smiles since I came in the door. So, I continued my sermon. They all went to Catholic High School and it was very relevant.
I’d told them that, not only have I been very aware of my surroundings recently, and my father tells me to listen to the Holy Spirit, but it all came together only moments ago outside their garage. I had only recently decided to brand myself as ‘Ms Toy Whisperer’.
That’s when the twins both smiled wider, giggled and invited me into the dining room to see the rest of the house.
Since we are the Crowe family, the Crow’s on the hearth were relevant. The built in hearth that surrounded them hit me like a brick. It was beautiful and a huge representation of Colonial America. I was being blown away by this house interior. From the outside, it wasn’t an old house. It was wearing all its age on the inside, like a healthy, wise old man. That’s when they told me their grandfather built it. He still lived next door. I complimented him, their Mom’s style and them for being so welcoming.
“You should be friends with our Mom.”
“Yeah, she loves all this stuff too. You could hang out and play cards.”
“Ahhh –okay.” I slowly recited, thinking there is usually more to it.
“HeeHee”, times two, since they both responded the same way – at the same moment – and whipped out their iPhones to take a picture. We’d initially posed in front of the dining room table but the period chandelier had made them too bright on one side. Once we turned 180 degrees in that room, and posed a second time, I realized there was now a picture in front of me that I LOVED.
The girls explained that their grandfather was the artist. I was so impressed. He built this house and he painted this too?!
Thinking again of the family, I realized it was still only the four of us. “Hey, where is your Mom anyway?”
“Prison.” They said in unison, this time without giggling.
“Oh, really?! Ahhhh – where?!”
“Well, it sounds bad but it’s Sunday morning and she is running the prison ministry.”
I’d so far reconciled myself to a ride, a town, a homestead, these girls and now they are telling me their mother is a devote Christian woman whose house I could live in right now?!
“This painting over here is one that was made at the prison. One of the prisoners made it.”
It was a colored pencil rendition of the glowing Virgin Mary.
As I was recovering from what was now a gallery experience as well, they stated that the painting over the hearth was of their house and that their grandmother’s friend had given it to her. I recognized the style right away. The signature in the lower left confirmed it.
“YOUR grandmother is friend’s with Sandy Farnsworth?!” “She is a local well-admired artist.” She was from my hometown of Shirley. Speaking directly to my daughter for maybe the first time, I stated, “She helped your aunt when she was younger.” “She also gave your Uncle art lessons.”
“Our grandmother lives next door with my grandfather too. They moved there and let my mother stay in her childhood home.”
This cannot be considered another coincidence or a reason to be guided to this home. Just because my mother also grew up in her childhood home, with her parents next door, that was no validation to become farther excited. It was a way of life ‘back then’ in these small New England towns.
What I thought was that there were a lot of reasons that woman was at that prison today.
“You and our grandma and my Mom could all hang out.”
“Oh, definitely. You girls are all hanging out again next weekend and I’m sleeping over too.”
My husband called at that point wondering what was keeping us? Ooops.
I gave the girls stronger, longer hugs this time. We had to leave but after this visit, we were more like family than friends. And it would now be okay to come all this way to visit again. There’s no place like home.