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You Can Always Go Home

By Dalene Rowley

This is an essay by Dalene Rowley, who you can find channeling her latent OCD as Compulsive Writer. After growing up in the Pacific Northwest, she moved to Provo to attend BYU. She served in the Belgium Brussels mission before finally graduating in English and French. She is married to the much-loved Mr. Rowley from Grandview Elementary. They have four kids ages 8 to 18. Other hats she wears include the following: mean mom, band mom, choir mom, quality assurance supervisor, quilter, sister, reluctant feminist, gardener and friend. It had been one of the worst weeks of my life. I’d just been to two funerals in as many days: One to celebrate the well-lived life of a dear friend. The other to mourn the tragic loss of a youth who had ended his life too soon. By Friday afternoon I wasn’t feeling up to anything more than curling up in a comfy bed and turning the world away for a few days.But with two family reunion camp-outs now to attend, comfort and solitude were out of the question. And since duty to family will drive one to do just about anything, we left behind the unmade bed and a sink full of dirty dishes. Completely ill prepared for two days of camping, we piled into the dusty mini-van and headed due east. We stopped first at the reunion of my dad’s family. He has been deceased for almost 25 years, but we try to keep in touch with his family—which includes posterity now numbering well over 250—as best we can. Although I had been reluctant to come, as we pulled into the campground, I found myself becoming excited to see everyone. And as I made the rounds to greet my favorite incarnations of what I remember best about my dad, I found myself buoyed up by the enthusiastic hugs and genuine pleasure aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents expressed over our arrival. Aunt Charm hugged me so hard I cracked. For whatever reason, her hug felt unusually intense. Although I try to distance myself from the pain of losing my father to cancer and of never having had a chance to say good-bye, as Charm’s hug lingered, my usual stoic resolve disintegrated and my eyes started to water. I needed that hug. I realized how much I needed this family.Later that night I had a visit with my Uncle Steve over dinner. We began what I expected to be the light banter generally reserved for casual acquaintances or for those you might see only once a year. Soon I found him commenting on a character trait he has noticed in me—my tendency to see things from a cup-half-full perspective—and frankly telling me in a beautiful way how my dad must have admired that about me. I don’t remember my uncle’s exact words. But then the words didn’t really matter. Tears welled up again, and as I held them back—along with all the rather intense thoughts and emotions behind them—I saw the same struggle reflected back at me. In that moment, and since, I felt connected across the ages and beyond mortality to something I am usually too busy and too distracted to contemplate: The true nature of family.These are my people. They love me not for who I am, what I know or what I do, but simply because I was born to them. To love and be loved like that is pure and beyond compare. I found comfort and solace in that knowledge, discovered in a place I least expected. I got a tiny glimpse of what it means to go home.

About Dalene Rowley

Began blogging as a legitimate way to avoid housework and to keep a journal of sorts. In her other life she wants to be excellent at a number of things, but in this one she's settling for baking a mean sour cream lemon pie, keeping most of the points on her quilt blocks in line, being a loyal friend and aspiring to moments of goodness as a wife and mother.

11 thoughts on “You Can Always Go Home”

  1. Even with warts of OCD, die hard sarcasm and teasing, I am grateful for the blessing of my family. When I was a teenager I was embarrassed to be one of eight children(eight children was very unusual for a family in northern Minnesota). Now I am so grateful for the many soul mates I find in my siblings. Thank you for the beautiful reminder.

  2. I just returned from a family reunion. Why is it that we’re so reluctant to go but when we leave are doubly reluctant? I love going someplace where we all share the same sense of humor along with our history. Plus, it’s always fun seeing dirty Uncle Claude.

  3. Amen, amen, amen to all of the above. Even with sometimes uncomfortable, ambiguous feelings about family memebers and dynamics, there is nothing like family. I love mine. Thanks for your heartfelt reminder.

  4. You are all most welcome. Maybe one of the virtues of family is that just like we will take them the way they come–warts and all–they will take us just the way we are, warts and all.

    Azúcar–dirty as in we're camping dirty or as in Dirty Old Man dirty? I've got both on my pedigree chart. What I need is the rich old uncle my SIL has (he flies her entire family to Disney World almost annually). Anyone know where I can get one of those?


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