The Heart of Our Home

By: Aisling Lynch

It has been years since I’ve lived at home with my parents. Almost 30 years to be exact. Far, far longer than I ever lived there to begin with. I went off to college just a few months before my 18th birthday and never moved back home again after that. Life happened.

These days, I live far away from that childhood home too. I grew up in a small town in the southwest of Ireland but now I’m based in Boston with my own young family.

Funny though, when I think of “home”, I still think of that house where I grew up. It was my first home and the one I’ve returned to again and again over the years, no matter where life has taken me.

My mom made a home for us there; my dad, my four older sisters and me. In one hundred and one ways, she made the place special and cozy and welcoming. Like you could exhale when you walked in the door. My dad still lives there now and it’s lovely to go back and visit him. But my mom was the heart and soul of the place.

She passed away in 2010 and it has never been quite the same since.

She was always in the kitchen. Cooking, baking, cleaning up, doing dishes, sewing. When you walk in there now, it feels so silent. Yet, her echoes are everywhere. The little gold carriage clock sitting on the counter by the window. She used to time herself doing the daily crossword puzzle in the newspaper, flying through it, pen in hand with one eye on that clock. The big ceramic bowl, beige on the outside, white on the inside which she poured the flour and the sugar into, eggs cracked on top, making countless loaves of bread, apple pies and little queen cakes over the years. Her Singer sewing machine with the foot pedal, where she’d sit expertly whirring away, making curtains and dresses, and repairing zippers. My mom was so smart and capable and could turn her hand to anything. Resourceful and economical, she ran the whole household with fabulous efficiency.

But it was her presence, her quiet steadiness that made the place what it was. She was a small woman but there was a massive hole when she was gone.

How many times did she come outside to see me off over the years, since that first time I left to start college? She would stand at the front gate and wave, me waving back from the car driving away, until it went round the corner at the end of our street, and we couldn’t see each other anymore.

She waved me off that day in 2008 when I was leaving for the airport, moving to Boston with my new husband.  And it would be Boston I’d return to in 2010, just a few days after her funeral.

From here, on the other side of the Atlantic, I can still pretend my mom is just back at home. Maybe when I call the next time, she’ll be the one to pick up the phone. Maybe she’ll be the one running to the front door, flinging it open and grabbing me into a huge hug the next time I push that doorbell.

Some part of me still believes this. Half wishful thinking and half cherished memory.

No matter how old I get, how far away I live, or how many years go by, home will always mean going back into my mother’s arms at her front door.

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