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It has been a long time coming, my return to the place where I grew up. I don’t have many of those warm fuzzy memories of hot chocolate on Christmas Morning or of lemonade after a little league game. There was no tree-lined street sporting cozy brick ranches with attached garages. My memories of that time are quite different, and the place had no Brady Bunch appeal. It was a dilapidated little house on the edge of Midwestern factory town which has itself become dilapidated, a kind of  baby Detroit that you never hear about. So many casualties of the great global economy that you can’t begin to keep track of them all.

The house itself should have been bulldozed years ago and it’s been a decade since I’d been there. It’s abandoned now, and flowers and rock gardens that my mother tended are choked with weeds and small trees. My last visit there was brief and memorable only because it was the last time I saw Mom alive, something that I knew in my heart the moment I drove away.

That’s a story for another time. Suffice to say that I had things to do on this trip, things that have affected me deeply in ways that I am only now beginning to understand. This visit was a part of bigger process that started out a mere healing and ended up, almost by accident, as a kind of rebirth.

I walked through the house, room by room, looking for my mom, for some trace of her presence there, and for anything that might remind me of the childhood years within those crumbling walls. There was nothing but cobwebs and trash and the overpowering smell of mold rising up from a damp basement. We had both been wiped away from this awful place and there was no part of it, no memory or image, that I would choose to carry out.  Whatever had once been there was now gone. It was as foreign to me as the craters of the moon. My work was done.

Walking out into the fading evening light, into the jungle that had engulfed my history, the image below caught my eye and my gaze settled on it. Surrounded by darkness and choking vegetation was the perfect metaphor for this day.

Time moves on.

Nothing stands still

The Earth reclaims what we have borrowed.

A heart untended will wither.


Home (©2011 by Richard X. Moore)



  1. If you haven’t already published your writings, you should; no, you HAVE to. You are an amazing gifted writer. When I read this, I’m right there with you, feeling your despair and then just acceptance of all that is happened to you. I’m sure the world would be affected like I have been, with your thoughts. Beautiful!

    • Thank you for your kind words. About the only way you could make me feel better about my writing would be to tell me that you’re a literary agent.

  2. So sorry the house has been abandoned and left to rot. I remember the last time I was there with Mom & Dad (about two years before Mom passed). I loved Aunt Terry’s room with all the books, floor to ceiling bookshelves jammed packed with books. I remember that basement always used to flood. Dad and my daughter, April, used to go fishing in the creek out back whenever they would visit.
    Glad you are getting issues resolved. It makes life a lot easier. ❤

    Your cousin, Dana

2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] a series of four posts (here, here, here, and here), I wrote about how this journey home has changed me. What I’ve written […]

  2. By Beyond 2,000 « The ADD-Challenged Eye on 08 Nov 2011 at 2:05 pm

    […] This post, where I finally said farewell to my late mother and to the house where I spent my childhood, remains my favorite. It’s probably among the most powerful things I’ve ever written but I can’t claim much credit for it since it pretty much wrote itself without my help. By last count, it made six people cry. Including me.  Every time I read it. […]

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