“I suppose we never choose the day when our dream will come true. Just as we do not choose the precise place our dream will carry us. This Victorian, red-brick farmhouse did not look like the home of my dreams.” Christy Purifoy
I could hardly wait for Roots & Sky to come to my mailbox. Since I first saw friends posting that the book was coming out, I was intrigued. Purifoy’s title itself is poetic. The cozy home on the cover was almost too much. Beauty like this almost hurts my heart at times.
I don’t know a woman alive that at some time of her life hasn’t dreamed of her special home.
I had three homes growing up. I barely remember the farmhouse on the hill from the family farm. I was a baby there and a toddler. My father wasn’t cut out to stay on the farm, though it did him much good. Men back then knew how to fix things with almost next to nothing. Using parts from broken down tractors to fix others. Using pulleys and plows, sharpening wheels and scythes.
My father didn’t stay on the farm; instead he became a builder of homes. (That sounds a bit more romantic than the plain old word:construction.)
Our next home was a small ranch house. The same type of house he had begun to build. The rest of the children were born there. We lived in a small neighborhood with plenty of children to make friends with and play Giant Steps in the street, ride bikes, and roller-skate with clip-on skates.
That house was a small, rectangular box which, some years later, burst the seams (all 7 of us), but it was home.
I look back at that house and can remember how it looked inside, but that is not what I cherish. I remember Mom canning peaches and tomatoes, and popcorn popped in the fireplace. I remember Mom always singing around the house and the stereo playing Sing Along with Mitch Miller. We sang our hearts out.
Our great-grandparents were always there, watching us open Christmas presents, Easter baskets, and birthday packages. I wondered how Great Grandma could smile and enjoy it so much when she never learned English; yet she watched and listened in and never missed a thing.
Sometimes our dream homes don’t turn out to be anything like the dream in our mind. Certainly not even for Purifoy. Like me, a dream home to her was a white farmhouse. But suddenly this house was the “farmhouse dream” she and her husband were looking for.
I have to agree with her. A white Greek revival farmhouse on a 500-acre farm was where Grandma lived. The family farm was our second home, where we worked and played with cousins, aunts and uncles. Grandma was always at the stove cooking a meal, or baking homemade rolls and sugar cookies.
This is where we fed calves, went to the horse barn with Aunt Libby, and stacked hay in the top of the barn. It is memories of shelling peas with Grandma on the front porch while looking out at her glorious flower garden.
It is the memories. It is how a woman makes a house a home. It is finding the glory in the ordinary day to day. I can see Purifoy standing at her sink eating that sticky peach!
I never thought we would have our own home. For twenty-five years my husband was a minister and we lived in a parsonage—a church house. We could paint, but not tear out walls. If there was paneling on the walls from ‘that era’, it stayed on the walls and we lived with it. Most of the time, I was ok with that.
But somewhere near my forties when my eldest went away to college, things changed. My first child went away while we were living at my in-laws. The next weekend we moved into a tiny old house. We wouldn’t fit…we would be crowded…and the heat from the wood stove seemed to suck right out the holes in the rock foundation.
Still…there we made memories my boys will never forget. That is where we threw logs down the cellar window after home school was over; it’s when we had a deadly winter snowstorm and then a devastating flood. That home was where my boys met two brothers and became good friends. It’s where my husband saw a bear in the yard one dark morning, a drunken skunk, and we lost our favorite dog.
At age fifty we found ourselves “jumping off a cliff” and buying a home. I was afraid to; it was a difficult transition from church ministry to school.
We did not buy the white farmhouse of my dreams. In fact, we live in a raised ranch. The type of home that was popular when my father was building homes. Still, I did not want this house, even though it reminded me of Dad. It didn’t look like my dream home.
It has a large lumpy yard with aging scruffy pines that drop branches at the slightest breeze. There is no good soil in the front and a large hill across the road that blocks the late day sun.
I have my own set of memories with what my children call—‘the younger kids.’ This is where my husband got involved with sports at school, eventually coaching everything from boys basketball and baseball, to girls softball. This is where our youngest went to states with the girls’ basketball team twice, and our fire trucks came to the exit and led the team home, while lights flashed and horns honked.
This home is where I am now letting go of our youngest. We have lived here nearly fourteen years, and when the youngest goes…the dog goes. There are no little ones to pick up after, and my husband does his own picking up. There won’t be a movie night with my youngest watching the original “Parent Trap.” But there will be new things to explore as my husband and I will be a couple (only) once again.
There are no perfect dreams in this fading world, but we still must dream. We need to dream. What we long for is what was lost, and will someday be recovered…that once pristine garden that is in our lost imagination.
That is the home for which we long.
That is the dream that turns to memories for those we love, even when the house isn’t quite the dream house we hoped for.
I finished Roots & Sky, but I will be back for more of her lyrical words about home and the ordinary things of life. I hope you pick up a copy; you won’t be sorry.
Don’t forget your tissues!
“We live in a good world shackled by decay. A world that always seems to fall at least a little bit short of its own promise. Yet glory dwells here too. Heaven and earth meet in scratches and scars. In broken banisters and in a Body broken for us.”
“Yet I had no interest in going back. When face to face with the very thing for which we have longed and prayed, what else can we do but press on deeper and farther? This is the only way to find him. This is the only way to find the one who created us as dreamers to begin with.”—Purifoy.