One might think that nothing could impress a person who has risen at 3:40 AM to take a car service to the airport for a 6AM flight. So, imagine that I was truly touched, amazed, and intrigued when Meagen, my niece and friend, said to me as I joined her in the car service, “I am leaving the home of my birth and my mother’s home for the last time. I will return to a house of memories.”
At that moment, sleep deprivation bows to another set of feelings, and mind and heart scramble to stand up to the insight you’ve just heard from a woman whose wisdom and bravery have been demonstrated to you for all the decades since she changed my life. Her parents invited me to be Meagen’s godmother at a time when I was proud and somewhat intimidated by being nominated for a grown up, lifetime commitment I had never been offered before. Fortunately, I didn’t know what else to say but “Yes.” Even more fortunately I would learn, as we both navigated our very different lives in a tandem of evolving relationships, that we would reach a point of cherished friendship.
As Meagan took up her role in Toronto to work on the shooting of her upcoming Marvel Comic series, I returned to our urban village. Once home, I sought a point of reference that would help me honor Meagan’s deeply heartfelt comment as we drove out the driveway of the only home she and her two younger brothers had ever known. You see, they joined their parents and two older brothers as the only other family ever to inhabit the singular Victorian style home in its 100+ year old history. They lived not just in a house, but in a life-enhancing tradition.
Finally, a light dawned as I recalled the unforgettable comment of a dear friend and mentor named Tom Kennedy. He is the person who played an important role in the effort to establish Aer Lingus as a national air carrier worthy of identification with the country of his birth. No surprise that I confided in Tom to learn how I might respond to the expressed anxiety of another dear friend as he planned his first trip to the country of both his late parents’ births. “Of course he has some anxiety,” Tom explained. “He’s going back to a place he has never been before.” The wordsmith had captured the heart of the feelings!
So, somehow that gift of insight illuminated the pre-dawn remark that landed with such impact, and prepared me to deal with the poignant and poetic words I repeat today. Meagen has given me permission to share them with you in our Sunday morning walk in our urban village.
I am so very happy to be here.
Where even though my parents are no longer physically able to embrace me –
I am ‘huzzahed!’ by each leaping pebble in the semicircular gravel drive on my way to the “family entrance”;
I am forestalled, but never denied entry, by the always kicked brass kick-plate at the back door;
I am instantly warmed by the wood-cladding, and the thick plaster that form the high walls and ceilings;
I am gladdened by the sunset dancing through the windows:
I rest on the carefully placed furnishings bequeathed by previous generations of love and laughter and creativity;
Here – where I am known.
Here – where I first came to know myself
Here- where love was made real.
Though I am neither a parent nor the owner and heart of a singular home, I can safely guess that you who are will hear in Meagen’s words the echo of the famous biblical welcome to the life that begins when the current one moves to its transition, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
There are no words to express my own gratitude for a definition of “Homecoming” that banishes sadness and establishes an unshakeable sense of what parents and a family can achieve in the course of their very human lives. I rejoice, unreservedly in an era of new beginnings that has had such an auspicious start.