Home is the smell of sausage frying in a ridiculously heavy cast iron skillet once belonging to Granny. The smell would sneak down the hallway to my bedroom in the early morning hours. It was our signal that it was nearly time to get up. The sound of cabinet doors and drawers opening and not so gently closing always came with morning. Daddy was the responsible party – and we knew when we smelled the biscuits in the oven, it was time. Daddy would whistle while he cooked each morning, yet another less than subtle wake up call for us. We were always greeted by the same mess when we stumbled to the kitchen. Homemade biscuits always left a trail – a light covering of flour on every available surface.
Home is the quiet of late afternoon – the dull, rhythmic thumping of the dryer in a distant room. Background noise – a lone television broadcasting afternoon headlines to an empty room, the occasional creak of the ironing board as my mother ironed in the living room. Home is the smell of fresh laundry – towels just out of the dryer that we would burrow under until the pile dwindled as mom slowly folded them in her precise pattern.
Home is the small tree growing in the front yard. Not an impressive tree – in stature – but to my sister and me, it was…
a princess castle, a pirate ship, a mountain top, in the jungle, a hiding place, base, endless adventures, a swing, monkey bars…
and it was the dreaded source of our father’s switches – used only in the worst of circumstances. When daddy went to retrieve a switch from our beloved tree, it was only then that we wished it didn’t exist.
Home is dinner around the dining room table, saying prayer before eating, holding hands as a family and thanking God for the nourishment which he had provided. And not complaining about what was being served. “It’s not right to thank God for our food, and then complain about what it is,” Daddy would always remind. Familiar meals – comfort food – were served in a weekly rotation…meatloaf, fried chicken, and once a week – breakfast for dinner…a concept my own children just won’t warm up to.
Home is the conflict and tension of teenage brothers, resentful of their “step” mother and angry over the death of their own. It is the open defiance and harsh words heard by my sister and me as we hid at the top of the stairs, terrified but curious. It is the sound of objects thrown, painful sobs, and endless slamming doors. Home is the feeling of being torn between family members…admiration for older brothers, and the natural loyalty and love for a mother and father.
Home is the gentle reminder of our father each time we left the house. We were not sent on our way with rules or threats, but rather with four simple words from our soft-spoken patriarch…”Remember who you are.”