Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Going "Back Home"

We just spent a few days visiting my parents. They still live in the same area, and on the same farm where I grew up. Dad has long since stopped farming, and the land is rented out.

There are so many memories in that area; the farm I grew up on with the river cutting across the middle, the old school building, the sleepy rural town, the country roads, and the land I used to help Dad till with tractor and implement.

Now days the only farmers in the area that have their fields fenced off are the Amish. As you drive around the country side, many a barn and silo stand empty and unused. In many places the barns and silos that once stood there are long gone, including some that once stood on our farm.

When we drive up M-99, we see one barn still standing, the name "Britton" faded but still readable on its siding. My 2nd great-grandfather brought his family from Vermont to Michigan, and settled on that farm about 150 years ago. The farm stayed in another part of the family line for over 100 years before finally being sold off to someone outside the family.

Down the road and around the corner from where Mom and Dad live stands the house my grand-parents built back around 1916. My Dad was born in that house, and I spent the first five years of my life in that house. Memories... So many memories...

Mom and I went out to the Burt Cemetery where many of her family are laid to rest. We brushed the grass clippings off of Grandma's stone, and Uncle Bob's stone, and the stone for my Grandpa who died when momma was only seven years old so I never got to see or know him. Grandpa's twin brother, Uncle Stub and his wife are laid to rest there also. It's been 30 years since Grandma left us, and I still miss her...

Over in another part of the cemetery lie Grandpa's parents. My Great-grandma's stone was obscured by the over grown perennial flowers. I thinned them back, and once again the sun lighted up the engraving on the stone.

If I was to walk down the street of the old home town, very few would recognize me, and I would probably recognize even fewer, even of those I went to school with. It's been over 34 years, a major part of a lifetime. I drive the streets of the old home town as an expatriate. There is still much there I recognize, but there is also very much that has changed over the years. A part of my life is in that area, but the life now being lived there is not mine.

We are nomads, the descendents of nomads; nomads who left Europe for a better life in a new world, nomads who wandered west from New England and Pennsylvania seeking a new life in a new place. A few generations in the NW Ohio/Southern Michigan area, and then my generation wandered off again; off the farm to the opportunities of the larger cities, scattered to the four winds. There may no longer be the frontier our ancestors faced, but we still wander, and our children and our children's children will wander too.

Abraham left Ur of the Chaldeans for a land he knew not of. He left Ur with only a promise, "...dwelling in tents... ... looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God." (Hebrews 11:8-10) Someday we'll really "go home". That will be nice...

~ The Billy Goat ~

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