“He is the happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home”
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (German Playwright, Poet)
"The best way to keep children at home is to make the home atmosphere pleasant, and let the air out of the tires.” ~ Dorothy Parker
“A house is made of walls and beams; a home is built with love and dreams.” ~ Unknown
I was so ready to move. I never thought I'd ever want to move. But here I was hoping and praying and planning to move. I had no plans for where. But I knew that there had to be a house somewhere that we could find. Lord Knows we had already lived in half of the rentals in Barnwell. The Huggins' had made our stay with them wonderful. But I was ready to move. A fresh start for me and the kids. A new page in our books. This time I was ready.
I brought home boxes from the liquor store, Small really for moving with, But perfect for the little ones to help pack with. And Pack they did. They packed toys and books and their little shoes. Then they unpacked and packed and unpacked again. Emily was two and Cooper was four. We had been in the Huggins house since right after Emily was born. To them the idea of moving was a game. but they played it well. They packed for days. They packed through the end of the school year, and unpacked between Em's visits to the cancer clinic Columbia. They packed and Unpacked all their stuff a million times right on through the lawyers and the divorce, they packed.
Anthony knew I wanted to move. He and I had talked. He really liked where we already lived.
He liked his room and the pond out back. He even liked Mrs. and Mr Huggins. But, he knew a move would do me good too. He and I would play Mario at night while the babies slept and we'd talk. He and I hadn't packed anything yet But we knew we were going to move. I was ready and he was Anthony, so he was, as always, ready to do what ever I needed.
The old blue house looked like someone had tossed it there crooked and tilted. Some boards missing on the side and the door missing a hinge. I wanted to cry as we sat there looking at it but I wouldn't dare do that in front of my Kids. I had searched Barnwell over for a house. It didn't have to be a big house. It didn't have to be a fancy house. But we couldn't move with out a house.
And I was at the end of my rope. I was down to the last known empty house. And parked here I could see why. I saw the look of Horror On Anthony's face and almost drove away. But I had lived in some pretty bad houses. And I knew that a lot of things could be fixed.
"Come on", I said. "We ain't seeing it really from here." "We need to see the inside". I didn't figure it would be locked. Anthony ran up the busted block steps and called back that it was open. I pulled the Little ones from the car seats, standing first Cooper, then Emily on the ground. "Go get Bubba", I told Cooper. He ran off up the steps reaching for Anthony to lift him over the top one that was just a row of ragged busted blocks.
Taking Emily by the hand I climbed the steps myself. Handing her over to Anthony at the top as I muttered under my breath to God or to who ever might be listening.
" Come on Now! Ya Know I need a house!" Then in a softer tone.
" Please God, my kids need a home!"
"Mama, it has wood heat!" Anthony yelled from inside as I stepped into the kitchen. I couldn't see him but knew he was somewhere close by with Cooper. Emily was right there with me so I was able to relax and look at the awfulness of this, the very last empty house. Wood heat would never do. Emily wouldn't be able to handle the fumes. I could see that the kitchen was terrible. That's where I stood open mouthed and fighting tears.
"The bath tub is Busted, and the house goes all the way round this wall." Anthony said appearing in a different door than the one he left in. " Not much to see." he added. I knew he hated it. I knew I hated it too. But I was determined to move. I was going to give it a good looking over.
"HOME!" Emily yelled waving out the window. " In a minute!" I answered. "HOME!" she yelled again pulling Cooper along behind her. "HOME" they screamed together. Anthony tried to shush her.. "Not Now!" he said. "mama's thinking, We'll go in a minute."
It was all I could do not to break down and cry right then. My youngest yelling for home and here I stood in my last hope. And this house was hopeless. The tub had a hole in it. I had looked all four rooms over and to be honest I couldn't tell what was supposed to be in any room other than the kitchen. Four square rooms. All having slanted , sinking floors. Hardwood by the looks of things under the dirt but they were sinking and slanted. the walls looked like they folded the floors right up along the walls halfway and finished it out with cardboard. I know that it wasn't cardboard, but that's what it appeared to be there in the Late, Thursday, afternoon light.
"Take the babies outside" I told Anthony. "I'll be out in a minute." I added, hoping he couldn't see my shoulders shaking. I was crying. I hadn't cried in a long time. But this house had made me cry. I felt sorry for the house. I really did. To be so un-loved. So un-cared for, un-wanted. I really felt sorry for the house. I understood it's pain. Now I know that sounds crazy. I even thought I was crazy for a minute myself. But I knew that I could never and would never live in this house. This lonely old Blue house with wood heat and a busted tub was not to be our home. " Jesus", I fussed at myself. "what are you thinking! You know better than this. You have a garden Planted.. You aren't going to give up your squash and butter beans for this.... " I shook my head and laughed at myself..
"EMILY?" I heard Anthony call. "Where are you going? COME BACK HERE!" "Home, Home, Home!" she sang back at us as I stepped out onto the busted block steps. "Home, Home Home!" Cooper joined in running to catch her as she went around the side of the house and disappeared into a tangle of vines and brambles. "Home, Home, Home,HOOOOOMME!" they sang as Anthony and I fought our bodies through the bushes to see the two of them climbing steps to a Porch.
I bet I said Oh shit a hundred times as Anthony ran to get them and I fought to untangle my hair from the thorns of a popcorn tree. I just knew that they had disturbed some body. I Just knew some body would throw open the door and demand to know why my three children were on their porch. But none of that happened. My hair untangled just as if the tree turned me loose. Emily Threw her head back and closed her eyes. Her, not quiet red, curls bobbing in the hot August wind.. She began to spin around and sing, "Home, Home, Home." Cooper Jumped off the porch and ran around the side of this hidden house screaming like a demon. "HOME ! HOME ! MINE AND EMMYSHUE HOME!"
I stood in total awe. Had two of my babies lost their ever loving minds at the same time. Anthony hustled to catch Coop and I caught a hold of Emily and started to drag her away hoping that who-ever lived here was gone for the day.
Anthony was quiet on the way home. He kept shaking his head as if he was convincing himself that I wouldn't move them to that awful, awful house. He had helped plant the garden and I knew he didn't want to leave that behind. He had found him a syrup tree in the ditch and dragged it home. He wondered if syrup would even grow at that old ugly blue house. He would move if I said so But I knew by the "Holder" set of his jaw that he wasn't going to make it easy for me.
I waited a few days before I called Mr. Williams. I had decided that if he would fix a few things I could make it in the ugly house. The steps and the tub were first on the list. Would he buy paint. And the broken windows, Those of course, had to be repaired. I had my list all figured out. The house was still awful, But I still felt sorry for it. And it was close to the hospital. That made it a plus for me.
Mr. Williams wouldn't buy paint. He told me standing behind his lonely old house. He said people always told him they would paint.. But didn't. He would fix the windows. But he wasn't putting in a new tub. "In fact" he added "maybe, I better not rent to a single Mother at all. Y'all are always too much trouble!" "But Ya might check with the man Up there" he said pointing toward the road to an office, " he owns the old place next door."
"Home" I heard my babies singing in my mind. "Home, Home, Home!" I remembered Emily spinning in the sun. "HOME FOR ME AND EMMMMMMY SHUEEEEEE!" I thought of Cooper screaming. And I it was then that I knew.
It wasn't easy to find. And believe me the battle wasn't won. Mr Griner wasn't real interested in a single Mom either. It took me days to convince him. Then he wasn't about to let anyone move into his property until it had been properly inspected and gone over with a fine tooth comb. He had to have two months rent and a security deposit too. But I came up with them. I sold and saved. If I didn't need it, I sold it. If this house had one, I sold mine. And we all Packed. And I prayed. I prayed I could afford it. I prayed the heat would work. And we packed!
I've been here for years now. With Anthony's syrup tree and Grandma Blacks rose bush and so many plants that we dragged along with us. I was so ready to move. I just wanted a fresh start. I was just looking for a house.
The children are all grown Now. Mine and the ones that came later with Dave. All the children who have come and gone. And believe me we know all the things wrong with our house. The leaky roof and the heat that sometimes doesn't. But No matter to me. Because every time I leave, I miss it. And every time I come up the driveway and spot the thorny tree that held my Hair... I am reminded, Reminded of children singing and Little girls spinning in a hot August sun. I am reminded of Houses I lived in before and all the good things about them. And the bad things too. But Most of all I am reminded That The Lord does bless me. How he showed my Babies a way through the brambles. And gave them words to sing. I am always reminded of every good time this house saw us through. I am reminded that we are never alone... I am reminded! And that is how this old house became my Home!
I love this place. I swing at night in my swing chair and feel at peace. My Journey to find HOME was a long one. Finally, I feel as if this is home. I have felt it ever since I first scrambled through the brambles in search of my youngest two. I hope that where ever you are tonight you too are at peace. Have a great night!