Tennessee Mountain Stories

Home is Where the Heart Is

In the garden of Eden, God created the ultimate paradise.  Adam and Eve didn't have houses like we do today, but neither did they have snow, rain, thunderstorms or any of the creepy crawlies that we try to bar from our homes.  They could walk out and pet any kind of animal from bison to lion, kangaroos or polar bears.  Yet in everything that God created in those first six days, only into mankind did he breathe life.


I say all of that to stress that I value life above any kind of stuff.  Still, I’m surrounded by a pile of junk that to me are priceless treasures.  For the last few weeks we've been talking about historic houses and we've visited six that hold innumerable memories and I certainly wish those houses could whisper to me just a few of their secrets.


It seems we have a picture of every member of the family standing on the front porch of my grandparents' house.

It seems we have a picture of every member of the family standing on the front porch of my grandparents' house.

Almost nine years ago, my family suffered a devastating blow when my grandmother's house burned, and she passed away from injuries sustained in that fire.  It was hard to lose this woman who meant so much to so many people.  Somehow, Grandma had been a lighthouse - always steadily lighting the way back home for both her immediate and extended family.  But we knew that her soul was carried home to heaven on that windy October night.  Certainly we will always miss her but we rejoice that we will be reunited with her one day.


The house was a totally different kind of loss.  It wasn't one of the centuries-old houses that we've talked about in this blog.  Instead, it was a 1960's brick rancher with faux-wood panelling and aluminum windows that were fogged by leaking seals.  It was spacious but certainly not grand.  And from the day it was built, it was the gathering place for generations of family.  Grandma's house didn't have so many years of memories etched into the walls but it had hosted countless hours of laughter and not a few tears.  Whether it was a day of joy or sadness, there was a comfort to be found inside Grandma's house. 

I know many of you have a home that you will remember with the same fondness.  Maybe some of those houses are still standing and you can look to them as the historic homes we’ve been visiting.  If you read the comments to last week’s story, one lady wrote about her grandparent’s homestead house and the precious memories she has of that house. 

All of those houses are the ones that I wanted to mention this week.  We always say that 'home is where the heart is' and that is certainly true.  Home is kith and kin; it is anywhere God builds a family and gives them refuge.  And the memories that I've been wishing all of these aged walls could relinquish, are ultimately carried in the hearts of those families.

One of the blessings my own family has given me is a very rich oral history.  We have stories!  We have told our stories - again and again.  I'm honored to be able to share some of our stories with you through this blog and through my books.  So that awful fire stole only brick and mortar; the joys that those walls held live on in my heart and in the hearts of aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors and friends.  What a blessing that is!

I'm always eager to hear your stories too.  That's why nearly every week I point you to the comments section below.  Anytime one of my blogs speaks to you, I hope you will share it there and share the memories that surfaced as you were reading.