Goin’ Home

Goin’ Home

It’s been 24 years since I’ve been home.   In May 1988, Roger and I married; we went to England for our honeymoon.  Less than two weeks after we returned my mother had a debilitating stroke.  She’d been able to come to the wedding, frail and shaky, but she’d come.  She was 75 and suffered from a lot of issues related to years of smoking.  Like death from a thousand cuts, her mobility was reduced, her breathing was labored, she coughed, then she lost sight in one eye due to a blood clot.  Still, she smoked. 

I moved her to Wisconsin, which was a nightmare going through Minneapolis on Northwest Air.  She died a couple of weeks later, on the evening of her 50th wedding anniversary.  The nursing home made announcements everyday about the day and date to help orient the residents.  After she died I found a clipping in her wallet about a girl she’d gone to school with who was celebrating her 50th anniversary.  It was important even though she and dad fought all the time…well, she fought, he just sat there, which only added to the problem.  She needed that anniversary to affirm her life.  She had not worked after she married and her children…well, that’s for another time. 

After the funeral in September 1988, after sorting out the house with my sister-in-law, after getting a lawyer and a realtor, I left and never went back.  My life was starting over. 

Going Home, the place I grew up and lived from age 4 to 22, is Fargo, ND.  I hated it.  I hated everything about it.  I think that’s common.  People either love or hate where they grew up.  The ones who loved it stay or long for it.  The ones who hated it never want to return.  But it is in me anyway.  I know, for instance, that I love open spaces.  Mountains make me nervous.  What are they hiding?  I know that I don’t mind the cold as much as many people and I absolutely love snow.  I cannot imagine living somewhere it does not snow.  It is magical to me.  So quiet but it changes everything. 

I looked for a blues poem I wrote for a friend who is very sentimental about ND.  I don’t get it, but she loves the place.  She was stronger than me.  She wanted to change things, change people’s minds.  I didn’t have the energy.  I can’t find the blues poem, but here’s a poem about going home that I wrote after a trip to Provence with my husband.  His home is Wisconsin and he loves his life here.  But he hates his hometown.

 Going Home

 I sit next to you,

knee to knee.

Thoughts flow:

your bonjour goodbyes,

and curses at a scooter’s roar;

markets scented with lavender. 

Finally, our silent morning escape

through the city to the airport,

and the sunrise over Nice.

But you are already home.

Part of you never left.


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