I didn’t have much of a home growing up.
I was born in 1960, on Staten Island, in New York City. My family moved seven times between 1960 and my graduation from high school in 1977. We lived in two countries, four states, and eight homes. I was perpetually the new kid in the class: we moved just days before I started 1st grade, days before I started junior high, and days before I started high school. What sense of home I had was tied to my family, rather than to a particular place or house.
I wanted my own kids to have a community, a sense of physical place and of origin, and a stable set of friends. A few years before we started our own family, my wife and I bought an undeveloped lot in Kingston, Washington. It took us a few years to decide whether or not to build our home there – we couldn’t afford what we wanted close to downtown Seattle, so we knew that we were creating a long commute for me if we built in Kingston – but eventually we decided to do so. We broke ground on Valentine’s Day and moved in on the Fourth of July, 1995. A month later, our eldest son, Jacob, had his first birthday.
Our home is small, modest, and unassuming: it is a 1750 square foot farmhouse, and there is nothing high-end about it, because our means were modest when we built it. It is now tired and worn: Jacob is a sophomore in college. Jameson, our youngest, has never lived anywhere else, and is about to graduate from high school. The house has been well-used, and there are times when, with two large teenagers around, it has felt as if the walls are closing in.
But our little farmhouse is, above all else, a home. Frankly it doesn’t make much sense for us to live here any more. With the boys gone, the commute seems foolish, and they will be coming home less and less. But we called this place into being, and it is the home where we have raised our family: with God’s help, Ann and I created a place for our sons to call home, and we will be hard-pressed to leave it. Ann and I will never forget watching our sons play on this lawn.
We had the great good fortune to watch them become men here. And it has been our privilege to wish them well as they leave us.
And so I think that, for a while at least, we will wait here at home for them, drinking our coffee, and watching that lawn for their return, while the rare winter sun rises through the mist.