Is it your present residence? Or is it someplace you’ve lived in the past?
If you’re a “home is where the heart is” type of person, you probably have several places that you could rightfully call home. Any place that brings to mind the warmth and love of kind people and pleasant memories probably qualifies. But there’s a practical side to whittling that list of homes down.
For one thing, there’s the matter if interment. Unless you opt for cremation and a creative means of dispersing your ashes, you’ll probably have to settle on one spot as your final resting place. And, as anyone who has celebrated family holidays with a spouse knows, some families are blessed with more homes than can be fully enjoyed within a limited time span.
In contemporary America the problem is compounded by the fact that we’re a mobile society. For instance, my wife and I have lived in eight homes in our 38 years together, seven of them in the first 11 years. In the 18 months before we were married, I lived in six places while in the Air Force , although I would not describe any of the four barracks I lived in as “home.”
I have two friends who have spent most of their working years schlepping around the country to places like Florida, New York, Wisconsin and Illinois only to end up back in their hometown of Council Bluffs, Iowa, proving that you can, indeed, go home again.
Each place I have lived has enriched my life in some way, verifying that home to me is more defined by memories and stories than brick and mortar.
December newsletter: Our December “Passing It On” newsletter is now ready. The lead article this month is about the limitations of oral history. If you haven’t received your own free copy, send me an e-mail and I’ll send you one.
Larry Lehmer is a personal historian who helps people preserve their family histories. To learn more, visit his web site or send him an e-mail.
Photo: Cal Lehmer's home in North Bend, Nebraska, in early 1900s. (Walter B. Lehmer collection).