The Berks-Mont News (http://www.berksmontnews.com)

Welcome to my world: Home is where I find it

I get this homey feeling in our home, my childhood home, with people, my hometown and our state

By Carole Christman Koch, Columnist

Monday, February 19, 2018

I attended a “Wild Women” retreat at a camp in the mountains nearby. The coordinator asked the women to bring something that represents “home” to us to be on display with a short note why it represented home.

A week before the retreat, I decided to walk around the different rooms of my home and make a decision as to what represented “home” to me.

My first idea was to take an item that represented the home my husband and I live in now. When we married in our 40s (me a divorced widow and my hubby a bachelor) I decided our home décor should combine both of our past history. I purchased paintings of the interior of one-room schoolhouses. My husband taught school and I attended a one-room school. Alas, I ruled out taking these paintings due to their size.

Soon I ventured to thoughts about my childhood home. After all, that was once home to me, too. I decided I’d take the small, dark blue velvet pillow in the guest room. It was a hand-sewn gift my sister, Dorothy, made for her 5 sisters as a reminder of our mother. We, the sisters, had made a replica of Mom’s chosen funeral dress. Dorothy, unknown to us, saved Mom’s old worn dress and made us pillows. Attached to the pillows was a piece of Mom’s jewelry and tatting. This indeed represented my childhood home.

Once at camp, I was anxious to see what the other women would have on display that represented “home” to them. There were quite a number of photos: children, grandchildren, husband and wife wedding photos, a grandson in the service, a woman and her dog, even grandparents. One woman had a coffee cup that centered on family at her kitchen table. The note attached to an old vintage can stated someone gave it to her, from their own home, when she announced how much she liked old things. She stated she fills the can with seasonal flowers and displays it in her living room. Another photo was a beautiful landscaped yard where her family gathers to enjoy the outdoors. I couldn’t miss the t-shirt emblazoned with the words “I LOVE GRANDMA’S COOKING.” This woman loves to cook for her grandkids and this was the greatest compliment from those children.

While at this retreat with 75 women, I realized there are many places and many people one can feel at home. Some came as mother/daughter, sisters, or a few friends as I did. We became bedfellows, sharing a room full of bunk beds and bathroom facilities. We saw each other in various stages of undress, no make-up, hair askew and knew the commodious feeling of being “just us.” We felt at home.

My mother, through raising her 10 children into adulthood, taught us the art of humor. After retirement, I decided to venture into a mold I was already happy with, “silliness and unfettered happiness among women of a certain age.” (Red Hat Motto)

This is the homey feeling I get as the Queen Bee to a group of Red Hat women. Yes, I’ve come a long way with the legacy of laughter from my mother, shared with my sisters and now my extended sisterhood of red hats and purple outfits. I couldn’t ask for a better group of women I’d like to grow old with, my Red Hat Dutchies.

Not just with groups of women do I feel at home, but with both genders at my class reunions. It started with 5th, 10th, etc. and now 50 years of togetherness and reminiscing. One can’t help but feel at home with a group of people you went to school with and chat over long forgotten experiences.

One of the experiences my classmates and I discussed was walking the streets of our hometown as teens. I still do this as an adult. Since I don’t live more than a 30-minute drive from my hometown, on occasion, I’ll stop there and park my car and walk the streets. I sometimes pop into a store or two. A side street takes me to the area where my high school once stood. At the end of my trek, I relax on one of the benches in the park. In my reverie I am once again home, my roots have taken over.

This home feeling can even happen when my husband and I are on vacation As much as we enjoy touring other states and countries, there’s something “homey” when we enter Pennsylvania, our home state. We both look at each other, smile and one of us always states, “We’re home!”

Indeed, I can get this homey feeling in the home my husband and I share, my childhood home, with people, my hometown and the state I live in. Home is where I find it!