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The Home Place

At the end of her last visit, my daughter instructed me never to get rid of my old couch.

I had qualms about that sofa when we first moved here. It is full of cabbage roses. The cushions and pillows are plump and cushy and loud – pinks and purples on a background of mossy greens – all sure to clash with the lowkey motifs of the new décor.

Houses have voices, don’t they? The new sofa took the leadership role in our abode right away and set the ground rules: “Use a coaster and never eat chocolate anywhere near me.”

My rose sofa, tucked out of front-door sightlines, piped up, “Time for tea. Settle in with a good book. Where’s the cookies?”

No way the two of them would get along in the great room. I briefly considered Habit for Humanity, but I couldn’t, just couldn’t part with the old divan.

Now, after a few years and no comments from visitors about retro upholstery, my anxiety over the old couch has ceased. In fact, when company arrives, the flowered sofa is where they sit because there you can slouch, you can put your feet up under you – yoga style, you can say what’s on your mind.

The new sofa is still stiff. It requires decorum. Acquaintances sit there; friends prefer the roses. You would think, located near the beach, my new house would dress itself with starfish and boats and maybe a ceramic mermaid or two, but the rose sofa lobbies for memorabilia that tugs at my nostalgic heartstrings.

On a small table made of repurposed wood rests a pottery pie plate and cover with a red apple for a handle. For years that dish sat on my mom’s buffet. It was the home of postage stamps and return address labels.

Those shiny bird salt-and-pepper shakers on top of the stove? A gift from my sister for my twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. I begged her for nothing silver. Who wants to polish? And they look silver, anyway, don’t you think?

On my refrigerator, artwork by my granddaughter. She’s talented, right? Peek into the bedroom and look at the bureau: my wedding picture, and my grandparents’ marriage portrait, circa 1920. Do you notice the family resemblance?

Out in the yard, Rose of Sharon trees, cuttings from the home where my sister and I grew up. Almost everything here has a backstory, some sad but most happy, funny, and all worth remembering.

A few miles from my new house, out on the main highway, is a field, flat and empty except for a mysterious island of shrubs and trees. It’s the “homeplace” a local historian told me, the site of the house that sheltered the family who once farmed that land.

If I were brave enough to trespass, I would find the toppled foundation stones, maybe a rotting floorboard or bricks of a capsized chimney. If I brought along my archaeological tools, I might find a spoon or the top of an old tea kettle.

What happened to that family? They are somewhere. And I hope they took with them what truly makes home, Home: their memories.

That rosy sofa? Dear daughter, it’s a keeper because it will always remind me of you. It is yours any time you want it.

And not to worry, it goes with everything, especially me.


  1. I’ve an old sofa like that. When we moved to our first house, my folks bought it for us. It was 1978 and they paid 500 bucks for it. It’s too tattered to be in a place of prominence like the living room so I’ve moved it to the bedroom. So, I get what you’re saying!

  2. The things that hold the memory, or the trigger of the memory, make them special. I have lots of those special “things,” lol! I think I have the cabbage rose pillows that would match your couch. I convince myself they go with everything 😆. Enjoyed your essay, Mary Ann!

  3. Hey there! So good to see this and I shared it with Jaime. I hope you are doing well in retirement. I will be reading all of these for sure. Someone mentioned something about things we did in school on Facebook and I immediately thought of my time as your aide way back in 1979. So off to Google I went and easily found what you are up to. You definitely left a lasting impression on many students during your time at JHS. Take care of yourself and I’ll be looking for more of your stories in the future I hope! Be well!

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