Monday, July 28, 2014

Can you go home again?

What is a hometown? Often I'm asked what my hometown is. I always answer “Twin Falls, Idaho.” 

In reality I moved to Twin Falls Idaho when I was three years old and I left when I was 18 years old. August 7, 1964 through May 28, 1979: 5,407 days or 772 weeks and 3 days.

Since that time, I have lived in Boise, Idaho. Nevertheless I've always considered Twin Falls to be my hometown. I had great memories growing up there.

Last month, I went to Twin Falls for a meeting. I drove past my parents’ house. The house seems the same other than weeds in the driveway.  The circumstances of my parents’ death were difficult because they died 13 days apart. It was worse because some relatives disgraced the memory of my parents’ marriage.

Even though that house is in my stepfather's family now, but I realized that the house is a shell and only memories linger.

It's almost been two years since they died, but the headstones are gray and dirty. There is some water damage also. I said a silent prayer for my parents, and I drove away leaving the flowers behind.

I will never go into that house again.

Mark Dunham, Jeff Hafer, and Steve Wirsching at Steve's Mom's funeral.
Last weekend, I went to Twin Falls for a funeral. The funeral was for a wonderful woman whose life was filled with laughter. Her son and I met when we were in the 7th grade. 

Even now, 40 years later, we are still friends. Our lives went in different directions, but I grateful that our friendship has endured.

Ironically, the funeral was held at the same mortuary where my parents’ services were held. That was hard to take because the vivid memories of my parents’ funerals and the aftermath flooded me with difficult emotions.

As a result, when we drove home to Boise, it was so bittersweet. We drove on back roads all the way “home” and my wife and son humored me as a described traveling back and forth for almost 45 years: Old highway signs from my childhood, old closed restaurants, and riding the bus over and over to visit my dad who lived in Boise after 1969.

I remember all of that like it was yesterday.  But, the people who meant the most to me when I lived in Twin Falls are starting to be “gone” now. Those special people who are dead will live in my memory. The location of a town has no relevance when friends and loved ones are just a memory.

At some point, I wonder if I will ever see Twin Falls, Idaho again. I have started to realize that perhaps my hometown is really Boise, Idaho.

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