On caregivers, faith, family, and writing…

Published in the Rains County Leader on July 20, 2021:

David and I have experienced several homecomings of sorts recently, and I had a very special one this past week. The word homecoming usually brings to mind a soldier returning from the war or the annual celebration held by many schools in honor of former students.However, the dictionary also defines the word as “the return of a group of people usually on a special occasion to a place formerly frequented or regarded as home.”

David’s middle sister Sharon invited us to celebrate the Fourth of July with her and their younger sister Deb and brother-in-law Jesse. Sharon lives in the house previously owned by their parents in West Monroe, Louisiana. We normally visit two or three times a year, but we had not seen his family since March of 2020, just before the shutdown. Even though David only lived in that house for three months before he went into the Navy, after such a long absence, our visit there definitely felt like a homecoming.  

When we arrived home on July 8, we learned that the Senior Center was re-opening for in-house lunch service on July 12. The Center is called the Rains County Senior Nutrition Program, but it is about so much more than food. Many Center clients, especially those who live alone, have little other social contact than the time they spend with friends around the tables there. And even those of us who are not so lonely look on the eclectic lunch group more as family than simply friends. The re-opening of the Center was a homecoming for all of us.

In August of 2019 I wrote a column titled Community about the 5th Annual White Chapel Girls (WCG) Retreat in Mountain Home, Texas. The WCG is a group of women who were brought together by chance and divine purpose but has become a strong spiritual family, and the White Chapel B&B where we meet has become a home away from home to us. Due to COVID, the 6th Annual Retreat was a Zoom event, so this year’s get together was eagerly anticipated, and the planners went all out to make it extra special.

When Betsy and I pulled up to the gate last Wednesday and pushed the button to announce our arrival, we were greeted with “Ho, ho, ho! Welcome home!” Betsy laughed and said, “I think somebody’s been drinking.” We knew that wasn’t the case, but we knew something was up. When we drove down the gravel driveway and pulled up in front of the house, those who had arrived before us came out the front door enthusiastically singing Jingle Bells! We shared hugs all around and heard over and over, “Merry Christmas! Welcome home!”

The front porch was decorated with large lollipops and huge red bows. Inside, the large dining table was set with Spode Christmas dishes, and candles filled the center of the table. Everything looked festive and beautiful, but we were confused.

“Last week I was thinking about a theme for the retreat,” explained Becky. “I wanted it to be really special, and it came to me that this year feels like we’re coming home. And what could be more special than coming home for Christmas.”

The wonderful welcome and the beautiful decorations set the tone for an extraordinary four days together. We laughed, cried, sang, prayed, and shared, and the two years between our meetings faded away.

It was the same when we went to Louisiana and when we had our first lunch together at the Senior Center after so long. Some things had changed – weight had been lost or gained, hair was longer or shorter or grayer, and a few of our numbers were missing. But the love and friendship was stronger than ever, and being together after such a long separation felt like coming home.

Blessings,

Linda

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A Long and Winding Road

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