What a great title for a book, The Shiver. I still get the same kind of shiver from time to time that I talk about at the beginning of my story, The Promise. They are not brought on by the same traumatic experiences of my childhood. Instead, they are brought on by the familiar circumstances that surrounded that time in my life. It could be as simple as an old song, a smell, or the situations I find myself experiencing all over again.
One of those familiarities is the racial tension we are experiencing again. It takes me right back into the halls of Stenton child center and Germantown High school where I, a white girl, found myself on the other side of the issue. Racism goes both ways, and it begins with what we are taught to believe and is reinforced by what we experience for ourselves. While I experienced what it was like to be a minority, it felt as if I was a goldfish in a tank full of black mollies. I feared they might eat me alive. The shiver comes from fear and a constant effort to survive.
However, there was a time during my stay at Stenton when we no longer saw ourselves as diffèrent. It didn’t matter what color our skin was, we shared the commonality of the situation we found ourselves in. We were kids who had been abandon by our parents. It was what we felt underneath our skin that brought us together. If we could keep all the painful outside influences away from what brought us together we found harmony in each other. How easy those outside influences can make us forget the sacredness that brings us together, and helps us see ourselves in each other.
While all the familiarity congers up painful memories for me, it also reminds me how far I have come, the lessons I’ve learned along the way, and who I have become as a result of it. If I don’t let myself learn from the worst of things I’ve experienced than everything I’ve gone through is for nothing, and all I’d be left with is an empty promise.
Since my book, ”The Promise” was published in January many who have read it might wonder how I could love my dad as much I still do. Those who knew him may not even want to know the mistakes he made by reading my book. But then you are missing the point that he is no different than anyone of us. He overcame the demons of his life. He apologized for the hurtful things he’d done knowing that it would never take away the shame that he’d take with him to the grave. Jesus once said, ”he who is without sin can throw the first rock.” I’d be the first to drop my rock on the ground. Can any of us say there is not something in life we wish we could take back? It was my dad who encouraged me to write my story from the moment I first came to live with him at 16 years old. He believed in what life had to teach us and that if we could help others by sharing our own mistakes than we give each other the opportunity to grow and learn through their own. I miss my dad everyday. I miss his hugs, his sparkling smile, our conversations. But his words of wisdom lives on in me. I am the lucky one to have had the relationship we shared and I thank God that I was blessed to have a Dad as special as he was to me. Happy Fathers Day, to my Dad!❤️
Here on Connie’s World, it is my pleasure to welcome Monica Lee, the author of Church Sweet Home and three other books. Today, she writes about home, a topic we both address in our respective memoirs.
When one thinks of a journey or an adventure, exotic destinations come to mind. Who bothers to embark on a long trip only to end up at home?
But in this odd world filled with government orders, infection rates and death counts, home is the blessed end of many treks out in the world. Whatever we’re doing—seeing a doctor, going to work, even simply buying fresh produce at the supermarket—we all just want to get home. Home is the ultimate destination, a sanctuary from all the world’s evils.
Even the word home evokes warm, fuzzy feelings. No wonder home, sweet home is a saying. We’re always looking for home, making a home, just being ourselves at home, reminiscing about home or trying to go back home. Home represented love, comfort and security long before lethal viruses floated through bandana face masks sending us to the hospital to die horrible, lonely deaths.
So while a travelogue is a great distraction in this strange time (I recently enjoyed Bill Bryson’s jaunt through Australia in In a Sunburned Country), a story where home plays a starring role may be the best salve to soothe the soul.
My latest memoir, Church Sweet Home: A Renovation to Warm the Soul, opens with my husband and I marveling at the snow falling outside our camper. Yes, we were camping in northern Illinois in late October. We weren’t foolhardy outdoorsmen; we lived in our RV at the time, trying to figure out how to carve out a living space in a century-old church.
We called the 355-square-foot fifth-wheel camper home because we’d sold our four-bedroom house earlier in the year to travel through the West Coast. It was an epic trip, but our home was like a turtle shell, one we carried on our back. During the renovation of the church into a residence, we lived in the camper, a tiny rental house, back to the camper and finally the church. The building inspector required a functioning bathroom and kitchen and a real bedroom before issuing a residential permit for the church, but of course, almost everyone agrees a home is so much more than plumbing, kitchen appliances and a bed.
In my story, home is a literal space.
In Connie Rife’s story, home is less a specific place than an emotional one. In The Promise: A Memoir, Connie is looking for the security and love only loved ones can provide. She begins her journey with her sometimes irritating yet nonetheless related little sister, progresses to a house in which she becomes more a mother to her benefactor’s children than the real mother, and then to an apartment she shares with her sometimes recovering alcoholic father. All of these places have functioning bathrooms, kitchens and bedrooms, but none of them are really home because the people she shares the spaces with are wrapped up in their own responsibilities and problems.
So a true home requires certain physical luxuries and also emotional security. In order to be a true sanctuary, a home must be an oasis, a shelter in the storm.
Your turn! How would you define home? What is essential? Anything missed? Share below!
Have you read books in which home is the ultimate destination? Will you be reading Church Sweet Home? Do you have questions for Monica Lee?
My latest book is available on Amazon & AmazonKindle: Church Sweet Home: A Renovation to Warm the SoulSubscribe to my author blog at http://mindfulmonica.wordpress.com/ for the latest