“All things on earth point home in old October; sailors to sea, travelers to walls and fences, hunters to field and hollow and the long voice of the hounds, the lover to the love he has forsaken”–Thomas Wolfe
Some years ago I went back with my sister Sherrie to see our old farm. I expected change. Mother had sold the farm after Daddy died to her brother and his adopted son, then sold the house and acre-and-a-half yard around it to “a nice family” when she felt she couldn’t keep it up any more. Mother had moved to an apartment in town, then eventually to Ohio, where my sister Glenda took care of her until she died.
So I knew the place would be different. I remembered rolling pastures, good for grazing cows but not for planting; wooded hills; a neat red brick farmhouse with a big oak tree in the front yard; a smokehouse and a shed in the back yard. I also remembered the doghouse Daddy built for my dog Chico, painted white like the other outbuildings.
Sherrie drove us there in her pickup truck. The long country road was lined with houses, some old ones, a lot of new ones. There were very few farms left. The old country store was still there at Stringtown, with new gas pumps. As we got closer to our farm every house held memories of aunts and uncles now gone, cousins moved to town or other cities.
Sherrie pulled into the driveway to the farm. “Look at that!” I said. There was an elaborate sign that looked as if it were carved, saying something like “Full Gospel Holiness Church” and the name of the preacher. “I heard he built a church in the yard,” Sherrie said.
The pasture in front of the house was grown up with brambles, weeds, and small trees. The yard was cluttered with ragged bushes and children’s toys. In the back yard, the smokehouse and shed were gone. In their place was a tiny church with a minuscule steeple. It had white vinyl siding and looked like it was built from a prefab kit. The church couldn’t have held more than 10 people.
“Cousin Sandy says he got the call to preach and built this church,” Sherrie said. “He gets his wife and a few other people on Sundays.”
You can’t go home again, as Thomas Wolfe wrote. “Let’s go,” I said, and we drove away.