Tuesday, May 8, 2012


The church service this week brought me back to my first visit. The music, the talk about forgiveness, the way I teared up, the feeling of being surrounded by love. I thought, "I am at home." I started thinking about home, all the homes I've lived in. Now we live in a house that has grown with us. It started out as a three-bedroom house, our first purchase. We've added on a couple of times as needed, and it has morphed into a sprawling house with a modern feel. We raised our three daughters here, and it is full of their notes and pictures, artwork, old clothes. It holds all the memories of their childhood.
When I was a freshman in college, my family left my childhood home and moved to another neighborhood. Although I never actually lived in this house, for years it held the promise of "home" in the sense that it was where we gathered on special occasions and holidays. My father lived there for over forty years. Although it no longer holds any remnants of our time there, I can still picture each room: the wall of books, the kitchen with my mother's needlepoint, my father's room with the stacks of CDs and his reading pile, the bedrooms my children piled into with their cousins, the dining room table filled with relatives always welcome to our large gatherings.
Most of my childhood was spent in this house, this split level that was the epitome of the post-war housing boom. Our basement with its fireplace where we huddled when the power went out and where I got my first kiss. The cramped bedrooms where we waited for our "roommate" to spend the night out so we could have a friend in. The back yard where we staged plays and played canasta and ball. This house was only part of the setting for those years though. The woods, the streets, the creek, the shopping center and schools within walking distance, our church at the end of the street. The place of tragedy: a neighbor's child run over by a truck, a mother with breast cancer, divorces. Home was chaotic with five children, but it represented a place to come to at the end of the day.
I couldn't find a picture of the house I lived in until I was seven, but I remember the porch where we drew with crayons, the black and white television, the pony that came around the neighborhood, first homework, learning to ride my bike and coming home with my face skinned up from falling. I remember Eddie, a boy I had a crush on. This photograph was taken after my next-to-the-last sister was born. Soon my mother was pregnant again and we moved to the split level.
I was born in a house on Shady Lawn Drive, pre-war construction. I found this photograph of me and my father, taken at that house. It speaks of love.
During the time I was day-dreaming of home, the choir sang a song entitled, "Grace," a contemporary version of the song "Amazing Grace." I was amazed to hear the words, "I shall go home" in their four-part harmony. I carried the thought of going home out the door, driving toward my house where I store all the memories of my past.


rushmore said...

Your house on Wilton had a super cool laundry shoot too, always remember. Did any of you kids ever go down it?

mamie said...

I can't remember whether anyone did that or not, but with all the laundry we had at our house you can be sure it would have been a soft landing! :)

Ally said...

Hey Mamie!!

Your post totally just gave me "goosies"!!

You are such a marvelous writer. Honest to goodness.


mamie said...

Thanks, Ally. <3

Caroline said...

I loved reading this. I think of the houses we lived in a lot and the fun we had in each one. We are thinking about selling the house we built in Mexico where my kids grew up. It is a tough decision. They are gone, and we are here in this big empty house. Have you heard the song by Amanda Lambert? The House That Built Me? It makes me cry.
You are a very good writer. Can't wait until you get something published. I will make sure that your book is on our book club list. Then I can say that my cousin's wonderful wife wrote it!

mamie said...

Come home to North Carolina, cuz! I'll listen to that song. I love to cry to music. xoxo

Caroline said...

oops Miranda not Amanda I am coming to Raleigh on June 5th. I need to get some papers signed for our visas. Maybe we could get together. I will be there for a few hours. Tell Trish and Durham hello. I would love to see Jean some day.