Monday, November 2, 2015

Happy Hearted Homecoming

So we were in Illinois last weekend. It was such a treat for me to bring my little family back to the home of my youth. My dad still lives in the house they bought the very month that I was born. My walk through the front door brought a flood of nostalgia as I entered the place where so much love and laughter was poured over me.

Since we landed in Chicago in the late evening and drove down from there, we didn't arrive until midnight. But my dad was up and waiting just as he and my mom used to be when I walked in at about that time so many times before. But this time I hadn't just come from Gully's or Doyle's and smelled only of soap and Goldfish crackers rather than stale beer and nachos. This time I didn't come in alone. In front of me walked my dear husband hand-in-hand with a sleep-walking girl of only ten. In my arms I carried a sleeping little darling only seven years of age.  My people in my home, oh the fullness of my heart. Yet my mom wasn't there to greet me as she had been every other time, but I sensed her nearness all the same. 

The girls slept in the room that had been mine where this plaque remains firmly attached to the door. I still remember how thrilled I was to find it since rare are the miniature license plates, key chains, or just about anything with my name on them.

After a sweet sleep we visited a reindeer ranch, apple orchard, and the girls raked just about every fallen leaf they could find in the spacious front yard. Another reason to miss autumn for the built in playground it provides.
On Saturday we all went to the Homecoming game at my alma mater the University of Illinois. I cannot explain my sheer delight in finding October there. The crunching leaves beneath my feet, the gorgeous spray of color in the trees, the crispness in the air. Home. 
Showing my girls a bit of the glory that is college pre-game tailgating made my heart soar. At one point as we walked through the sea of happy co-eds, Emerson turned to me and said, "This is where you went to college?" and I was so proud to tell her yes. 
We had so much fun with my dad at the game in sweatshirts and closed toed shoes. Emie's even wearing a knit hat! Oh, autumn, I've missed you! 

The most fun of the weekend was reconnecting with family and sharing my girls with some of my mom's dearest friends. These women knew me when I was the age my girls are now. They see me in them and say the things my mom would say if she were here. How much Ainsley looks just like me and how Emerson's demeanor is so like mine. They speak of what dear girls they are and how polite and well behaved. My mom's essence is ever near in the presence of her friends and what a gift they are to me. I regret not getting a picture with each of them but their faces are forever etched in my heart. 

So though my mom wasn't there to greet us when we arrived, she most assuredly was there. Her essence, her love, her encouragement was everywhere I turned.

This chalkboard has hung by the home's backdoor for as long as I can remember. I know we kids tried to erase it more than once but I'm so glad we never succeeded. This encouraging decree in my mom's consistent cursive remains to this very day. I love it now more than ever. I can hear her urging me on to savor the moments and know she would want all of our days to be great. I know she's front and center in the great cloud of witnesses in heaven cheering  us on. I don't know how many days I will have or what they will hold, but I can promise to appreciate what is great about today and will savor the present moment. Thanks, mom for that and so many other things.

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