toledo, nopper gardens, harlan yaffe, family life, fatherhood

Love: The Difference Between a House and a Home

by • May 22, 2011 • Family Life, Verbal SnapshotsComments (0)

A picture of the home you grew up in.

Before the “Real World” of my adult life were the “Wonder Years” of my childhood growing up in the idyllic little Hamlet that embodied the promise of the early 1960’s, Nopper Gardens’ Estates in Toledo, Ohio.

I snapped this picture when I was last in Toledo and at first assumed today’s challenge would be a simple upload and quick sentence or two, but found the difference between house and home was not quite so easily conveyed.

It is only lately I realize how lucky my generation was. When all five of the TV channels broadcasting at the time were still free, monthly fees for things like internet and cell phones were science fiction, and the idea of paying for bottles of water would have been deemed absurd, we were the last to have the luxury and privilege of having “stay at home moms” as the norm.

While today I wax nostalgic for the almost extinct species of the ‘stay at home mom,’ I also take a moment to honor the exponentially more difficult juggling act all working mothers now impossibly perform every day.

My brother, Hal, and I came off the school bus each afternoon to a mother that cared about what we learned that day and would make sure our homework was completed before we returned for the next. For someone who did not always have the greatest time at school, that home was also a refuge from the private torment of childhood angst & bullying. A couple of hours later, the father that came in that door was truly happy to be back in the company of his wife and their sons. We all sat down to dinner together, every night, as a family, for what Mom and Dad called “the most important part of the day.” They did not just “call it” that, they made it so.

The bricks and wood that gave me shelter as a child were an easy point and click to capture, but the challenge today called for a picture of my childhood home: that was not built by timber or held together by mortar, it was constructed by the dreams and hopes of parents who cared passionately that my brother and I would be prepared fully for the very final time we would leave that front door.

To look into my mother’s eyes was to have found the joy of life, to look into my father’s eyes was to have seen the strength of character – and the look in their eyes when they looked at Hal and me was to find a home that I long ago moved out of, but never really left behind after all.

“Without love it ain’t nothin’, but a house, a house where nobody lives.”
~Tom Waits

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