HEADING NORTH

By Lisa Huddleston

Trying to go home can be a difficult task. Especially when home has been a dream more than a concrete place.

I grew up moving nearly every two years or so–usually right in the middle of a school year. What a blessing! I seriously used to have dreams about walking home from school and finding that my family had moved without me.

Although they never did literally forget me, I had to leave behind a great deal with each relocation. Best friends, favorite climbing trees, hideouts with great cubbies replete with wild grapes to snack on while I read. To say it was hard is a gross understatement, but it was beyond my control so I made the best of it. I found new friends, new favorite teachers, and even better places to hide. Music and journals and novels could travel with me; yet, I grieved the end of each chapter knowing it would never be the same again.

And now I am riding in the car on the way to visit my aged father in Indiana. He once was my Dad. We enjoyed exchanging witty words and bawdy humor until he slowly faded out of our lives–and now I think he probably faded out of his own, too.

He lives in Indiana although the last time he moved our family was to Tennessee. The rest of us finally and stubbornly put down roots although he never asked us to move again. Mom is still proud to be a Yankee but her roots entertwine with our southern ones and she will not be moving again either.

Dad moved north because he became too much for his wife to handle.  Years of drinking and depression dimmed his mind while his weight increased, and she truly needed help.  His family was not much help, because we hadn’t been in his life for many years–he had kept moving on while we had stayed put.  His wife has family in Indiana so that is where they live.

Dad always hated the snow and the cold.  Ironic to be heading north for a visit.  It will be a long weekend.  He will hug me and tell me how much he misses me.  I will ache at the words.  I am so glad that my husband is at my side and that we finally found a hotel room in spite of the Purdue game.  Kokomo is not too far to find a good hiding place.

I am no longer angry with him.  I too understand what fading feels like, but I will choose to fight.  I will not sever the ties that bind my growing family.  Love is worth the struggle.  And I suppose it is worth a trip north.  Even though it will not be heading home.

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