Posts Tagged ‘home’

And the leaves that are green turn to brown,
And they wither with the wind,
And they crumble in your hand.*

As we approach the last hours of late autumn, a few remaining golden and crimson leaves cling to their branches, struggling valiantly against the inevitable return to dust.  The crunch of fallen brothers and sisters, whispering in the wind the promises not kept yet not forgotten.  And a time, too, of spectacular sunsets, filling the autumn sky with hues of blue, pink and gold.

To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven…**

For me, autumn has always been a season of reflection, remembrance…and transition.  It was this time of year in 1993 when I realized my first marriage was truly over, and with it the broken promises of a life by which I could not abide.  And as of late, my parents’ situation seems to have stabilized—for the moment.  But now my father is also presenting with Alzheimer’s symptoms, and my mother is firmly entrenched in stage two.  Both my parents have now entered the final chapters of their lives, precariously perched on the threshold between here and … beyond.

A time to be born, a time to die…
A time to laugh, a time to weep…
A time to dance, a time to mourn…**

The ongoing saga of the outdoor ferals is a poignant reflection of this cruel reminder of life’s precariousness.  Of the half dozen cats that were once regular visitors during mealtimes, only Mama Girl, aka Sluggo—the feline mother of four of our indoor kitties—remains.  It’s now been nearly two months since we’ve been graced with the liveliness of Orange Kitty.  I saw him last the evening of Saturday,  October 20.  And Sylvester (Chewie’s baby daddy) has been AWOL since mid summer.  One warm evening he showed up after an absence of many days, seeming sad and alone.  He ate the meal we put out for him, and by next morning he was gone.  Why can’t they just stay and enjoy the largess that is our haven for them?  But no, these outdoor cats are compelled to explore and to roam.  And to meet their fates, no matter how harsh and heartbreaking it may seem to us mere humans.

With the acceptance of the transitions of Orange Kitty and Sylvester, an era is slowly closing.  It’s now just Mama Girl.  She comes around regularly during meal- and snack-times and spends overnight in the heated garage.  And yet in the morning, off she goes to explore the great outdoors, because she must.  And thus a return in the evening is never guaranteed.

Yet our indoor kitties continue to do well, oblivious to the changes to their external world.  As long as we keep them warm and well fed, their lives continue in a comfortable, purring love-fest.

In fact, we have just recently celebrated a significant autumnal moment:  on November 24, we rejoiced in Tigger’s five year anniversary of his adoption (yep, the only furball we actually sought out).

While completing the paperwork at the Denver Dumb Friends League, I remember gazing into the bright yellow eyes of this beautiful, perfect three-month-old kitten.  Tigger returned the gaze, full of expectation, adventure, impishness, love…and trust.  Trust that I would take him home, love and care for him.  Be his forever caretaker in a world that is both beautiful and harsh.

And I also remember thinking that there will be a time—perhaps in 15 or 20 years—that I will have to say goodbye to this wondrous spirit.  And for an instant I became overwhelmed with heartbreak and pain…  Roger then indicated that the paperwork was complete, and I got pulled out of my momentarily morose reverie back to my current, joyful reality.

To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven **

Ok, no need to practice heartache, for in a world of opposites—of yin and yang—there will be an abundance of both pain and pleasure.  Many years ago I took a ten-day Vipassana (insight) meditation course.  One of the major key points I gleaned from this experience is that humans create even more suffering by one of two means:  by wishing that the present painful circumstances be different from what they are, or by desiring that the current joyful moments stay with us forevermore.   We humans just can’t seem to accept that our realities are in constant flux.  That there will be seasons of great joy as well as dark sorrow.

Perhaps here is another lesson we can learn from our furry companions:  they are creatures of the moment.  They do not worry about the future nor ruminate about the past.  They experience their moments vividly, viscerally.

Despite our best efforts, we don’t have a patent on certainty.  Just like the feral kitties, we go out every day to explore and to play in this game called life.  Depending on the season, we might feel this game is rigged.  Or we might experience an unexpected win.  No matter.  We fully expect to return home every evening, to the blessing of those we love and cherish in this lifetime.  And for every day except our last—when me make our final return to the home that is the infinite—this expectation holds true.



*  words from Simon and Garfunkel’s, “Leaves That are Green”

** Words are adapted from The Bible, Book of Ecclesiastes; music by Pete Seeger; The Byrds’ single made it famous

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The original home of my childhood was quite the mixed bag.   Some experiences were highly imperfect, but they have given me quite the clarity in terms of my life’s focus and direction.  And though I do not live the traditional life my parents would have wanted for me, I love them dearly and know they did their best.  And as they enter the sunset of their lives, I get to explore this concept of home…

What is home?  Is it merely a house with four walls, a ceiling and floor, rooms for various purposes…or is it more?  Is it a feeling of comfort and security, the birthplace of memories and ideas?  A place to return to either every day or every so often?  Does a house become a home with the addition of heart…and soul? 

And once you’ve left home, can you ever go home again?

I have made Colorado my home since 1998.  It was a place I was drawn to, and in early 1998 I took a leap of faith.  That feeling has served me well.  I have found good friends—kindred spirits united in artistic expression—and a second chance at a life partner with opportunities for even greater focus…and, of course, the many critters with whom we share our lives.

Although I left my childhood home in 1986 at the age of 22, there was this odd comfort of knowing that whenever I visited my parents, there was this familiarity… And even in Colorado, I have looked forwarded to this familiarity whenever I traveled back East to visit.  The trips were not always enjoyable, but they represented a tie to my past, a connection to the beginning of my life’s journey.

But now that familiarity has been inexorably altered.  My father is 86 in ailing health, and my 80-year old mother’s Alzheimer’s is progressing at a rapid clip.  I did return to the East Coast twice in June to help my sister, Robin, pack up their home of 40+ years so that they can be moved closer to her, outside of Philadelphia.   Two days after I returned from my second trip my mother suffered a massive heart attack.  It was heart wrenchingly touch-and-go for a few days, but now she is recuperating to the extent possible in a rehab facility near Robin.  And in the midst of all this chaos, my sister and brother-in-law somehow managed to supervise my crotchety old father and the move that recently occurred. 

So, I will never again return to the home of my youth.   How odd that the telephone number I’ve known and called for over 40 years is now disconnected.  What was once my home is now just a house, an empty shell—its walls waiting to keep the secrets, joys and sorrows of yet another family…

So again, I ask:  what is home?  And does the concept of home have to be so complex?  Perhaps I can take a life lesson from the felines with whom I share this life.  They’re simple creatures, really.  Once you bring them home and they get a “lay of the land,” that’s it.  Just feed them and love them.  Clean out those litter boxes.  Scratch behind the ears or on the belly.  Oooohh.  Yes, occasionally they want to explore what is beyond the threshold.  But they do return, more often than not.   

And that’s enough for them.  True home is this feeling of love and security.  Perhaps we humans make too much of a particular place, of wood, brick and mortar.  Maybe home is just this gift of the present moment.  And much like my mother’s Alzheimer’s that is robbing her of her past, in a strange way it is a gift, as well.  Because for her, home is where she is right now.  

Maybe we, too, can find our “forever” home in the true gift that is the present moment. 


In light of the recent tragic events in Colorado, I find Skylar Grey’s rendition of Coming Home a haunting reminder of the beauty of home—wherever and whenever that might be—and the power of forgiveness:

“I’m coming home
I’m coming home
Tell the World I’m coming home
Let the rain wash away all the pain of yesterday
I know my kingdom awaits and they’ve forgiven my mistakes…”

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