I’m flying to New York (alone) next week for a 10 day visit to check on my father in Pennsylvania and also check on our house and “lock it down” for a Catskills winter – where temperatures can easily fall to -10C (14F) for days on end. Hopefully, no “local guests” have eaten it completely since I was there in June! You may remember what was awaiting me the last time…
This dawned on me as well as I explained that plan yesterday while I was answering a message from a cousin in Connecticut. Now married with two young sons, she and I grew up living around the corner from each other on Long Island – where none of our families now live any longer. With my mother’s one year anniversary upon us, she’d written me asking how my dad is doing these days.
I realized that after my father passes away (whenever that is), I probably won’t spend very much time in the United States after that for some years at least. (Assuming, of course, he does before I do; and, to be honest, I no longer take anything for granted.) I was always indifferent to my parents’ Pennsylvania home they’d bought in 2011. At the time, some internal family disagreement (that’s being polite) had been involved over their move to it. (Frankly, I was furious they chose to move there and especially for their supposed reasons for doing so.) My mother’s dying in the house last year has since blown me off of it totally: If I never saw that house ever again, I wouldn’t care.
Perhaps if my father still lived on Long Island in the house in which I grew up, and even if my mother had died in it instead, I wouldn’t feel this way. Our Catskills house is now, in a real sense, “home” in America for me. We built it from scratch:
My mother visited it numerous times. I can easily picture her walking around inside it. Outside, she was terrified of the drop off from our side deck – it is quite a plunge down a steep slope:
I also could never get her to walk down the driveway to the main road and back up (about 1/5 of a mile each way). “Are you crazy?” she always insisted. “That’s what cars are for. And there are bears out there.”
But life for me is now mostly here in Britain (a country I adore). Inevitably time takes its toll. The longer you are away from home, the less it ceases to be the home you knew.
Not exactly uplifting stuff to think about, of course, but at the very least it may prove useful (and even necessary) for a writer.
When life hands you lemons, the guy once said, do your best somehow to make lemonade.
Have a good day, wherever you are in the world. 🙂