By Bob Perks
Don't tell me you can't go home… I just came back from there.
My phone rang early last Saturday morning. "Hey, did you see in the paper that 466 is having a house sale?" my brother asked.
"No, are they really?"
"Yes. I think we're going down later just to walk through it."
466 is the house number of the home we lived in when I was growing up. I lived in a community where folks always stayed close to where they were born. Families rarely moved away back then. That is, until the kids graduated high school. Then, it appears, that most of my classmates left the area.
So, many of the old homesteads were left with parents, growing old, and children, returning during holidays and funerals.
"Well, if you go, let me know what it looks like," I said.
Then it played in my mind. It must have been that I hadn't had my coffee when he called. "How could I pass up a chance to see it again?" I said to my wife. "Let's go!"
I was actually nervous. On my way there, my mind replayed a thousand memories. Then, when we pulled up, I began to shake. I am a man, whose emotions lie barely below the surface. I am a writer and a speaker, and still I can't capture in words the real feelings of the moment when I set foot just inside the door… I was home.
Introducing myself to the present owner, I put my hand out and said, "Hello. I am Bob Perks. I used to live here."
He kept his arms crossed in front and didn't respond. Maybe this was a bad idea. I continued, nervously telling my story. He finally warmed up when he realized I valued the hose as much as he did. He had lived there 21 years.
I called my brother to tell him where I was. Then the man actually closed the front door and took us upstairs. My room, my parents room, the attic where I played.
It was there a real life-changing moment occurred. I happened to mention that I had plastered the walls in the small attic room with Beatles pictures.
"Did you have a photo album where you kept them, too?" he asked.
"I found it. It's downstairs. We were going to sell it on eBay."
I hurried down to see if it really was mine.
"Who's Bobby?" he asked. I responded like a little kid, waiting for Santa to hand out gifts.
There it was, one of those old photo albums with the black construction paper, bound by a laced shoe string.
"What's it worth to you?"
He was selling his stuff. But this was my stuff.
"Priceless!" my wife responded.
"Here, take it," he said.
Nothing could match this moment better than seeing my brother arrive. He immediately walked in and stood in the second room, right near the kitchen door. I knew what he was doing. He turned and said to the man, "My mother died right here. I held her hand when she died."
I was there with him and Dad that day, that moment… But declaring his place there that day was important to him today. He adored her.
Later, I stood in the kitchen with him, and in another moment I will treasure the rest of my life, I turned to him and said, "I would never in a million years think that you and I would be standing here again. Me now 59, and you 69."
Dear God, thank you…Thank you for big memories in the small moments. And thank you for keeping my brother and me around so we could "go home again."
"I wish you enough!"
By Bob Perks