Monday, June 21, 2010

05/07/2007 - Where we love is home, home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

interesting enough, this was written when melissa and the kids moved to KY two deployments ago.   now they are packing up to leave KY - so interesting my perspective!  i wonder how her kids feel about moving right now.  and, if they remember moving the last time. 

In September 1945, the U.S. Navy began using the Earthquake Valley area as a gunnery range, forcing the South family to leave their mountain homestead and seek refuge elsewhere. I feel like Tanya South was probably happy about this news, as it seemed that she didn’t enjoy the desert life as much as her husband. However, I’m sure this news was devistating to Marshal South and his dream.

This past weekend brought about bittersweet news in our family brought forth by the military (but not the Navy!), over sixty years later and far far away from Ghost Mountain. Rob is officially headed back to Iraq mid-June. I am so happy that my sister and the kids gets to spend the next month him before he returns to Iraq. However, it is very saddening that they are spending it (and the next few years) in Kentucky.

When Marshal South wrote this for The Desert Magazine in May 1942, I wonder if he knew what was to come for his family. “Deep down, the seed--the seed of freedom and simplicity which the Great Spirit implanted in every breathing thing--still sleeps. It is not dead. In good time, when man has battered himself weary and bleeding into the dust, it will waken again to save him and to set his feet anew upon the trail.” I wonder if, on his last trip down the mountain, he looked back on the home he was leaving and saw the lonely ghost house visited so frequently by hikers now?

Like the strangely sad feelings I had when I first saw the Yaquitepec atop Ghost Mountain, I had those same feelings yesterday when I went to my sister’s old house. They haven’t moved everything yet, they took what they could - mainly the daily-used items like beds, chairs, TVs, dinner table, etc.

I was telling dad yesterday that I felt like I was helping clean out the house of the deceased. Once where there was life, now there is an emptiness filled with dust, paper scraps, mismatched toys, Easter candy, etc. Even the closets are still full of clothes, some in bags with the tags still on them. The fish tank filter trickling was the only noise to be heard, no children playing and running and throwing balls, no mama yelling at them to behave or to eat their beans, no dog trying to eat all the crumbs in the high chair...


Marshal and Tanya South divorced 2 years after leaving the Yaquitepec. A year later, Marshal South died with heart problems. He was 62. His only request was that the land not be sold until the youngest child was of age. He wanted to make sure that if Tanya could not survive in the city that she would have a home she could return to.

I suppose there are lots of reasons that people move away from home these days. Some get jobs wherever they can find them, some like adventure, some move for a change in climate or scenery, and I guess some people just plain like to move (which why one would like to move is beyond me)!

I suppose it is also nice that my family is so warm and open, no matter where I’ve lived (rather, how far away), I always feel like I can go home AND that home could come to me. Even when Melissa lived in Missouri, I remember the Christmas we all spent together in her house. Although NONE of us were “home” (technically speaking), we sure had a homey Christmas. I feel like no matter where we all are, we’ll always be at home when we are together.

Which brings me to my pondering point. What exactly is home? Is it the base before 1st and after 3rd? Is it your current residence? Is it simply a place of refuge or is it where you were born? What if you moved when you were 10. Is home the place you were born or the place you spent your teenage years? If your parents have moved since you were a kid, has home followed them to where they live now? Is it as sad leaving ‘home’ (the way my sister left) or is it sadder to revisit ‘home’ when it is just a house? I wonder if my mom, while cleaning out Tuter’s house, feels sad because her home is lonely, void of the love, lives, and Sunday dinners it once sheltered.

I think home is the place that offers you security and happiness, i.e. where you are loved and welcome, and is not specific to any single location (address). Grandma’s house is home, although it is really my dad’s home. Tuter’s old house is home, even though she doesn’t live there anymore. Aunt Pat’s house is home, even though I never visited her house when I was little (she lived in Colorado). I always think of our old house (the one we lived in until I was almost through the 2nd grade) as home, although someone else has lived there since we moved out. I feel at home in my backyard, in my house, even standing atop Ghost Mountain looking at the ruins of another’s home. I suppose I am lucky in the respect that, for me, home is anywhere so long as those I love are with me. 

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