The word, “home” means a few different things for me, especially after recent losses. The feelings of grief, shock, and denial have set in for sure. I have been open about losing a close friend of mine recently and then two past colleagues the following week. To be 100% honest, these losses have rocked me to my core. I’m thinking about my own mortality and the mortality of those close to me. The loss that has affected me the most though is the unexpected loss of my very dear and close friend. I don’t really qualify friends as “best” friends, but she was definitely one of my best friends here in Colorado. She’s a huge part of my bestie crew and losing her has really thrown me for a loop. This loss has made me emotionally dig deep and explore my feelings around what the word “home” means for me. Home for me is a place but also warm fuzzy feelings. What feelings does the word home bring up for you? Does the word home bring you pleasant memories as it does for me or does it make you want to make the house you currently live in your warm fuzzy feelings home? Let’s explore the thought of home as a place vs. feelings more.

Navy Brat!?! What does that mean!?!

I was raised as a Navy brat. I’m not exactly sure why we were called “brats” but being raised in a Navy family with other Navy brats, was mostly fun for me. It was also very sad and stressful at times. Being a Navy brat meant that we moved to a new house (my Mom and Dad did a great job of trying to make all of our houses feel more like a home every time we moved) every two to three years. I hated leaving all of my friends, school, and other activities I had gotten used to so often. Even though I made moving VERY hard on my parents (picture me sobbing, carrying on and & screaming “I won’t go!” at the train station with all of my friends there to say goodbye and my Dad having to carry me on to the train or something similar at an airport – Sorry Dad!), Once we were moved and settled in our new destination, I always made the new place an opportunity. In fact, I think moving so often as a kid, gave me great social skills for my adult life. Because of this, I’m very social, open, and easy to get along with. I love meeting new people and I love staying in touch with friends from all over the world and all walks of my life. That’s the positive side of being a Navy brat.

The negatives of moving so often and being a Navy brat are as soon as you are comfortable in your house/home, school, with your friend group, or in your social activities, it’s time to move again. It’s time to start over. The other negative thing about being a Navy brat is that you don’t get to see your extended family very often. In our case, we mostly lived overseas. It was expensive and hard to travel to see family. I only got to visit my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins when we were in between moving to a new duty station. We normally took about a month or so and would travel back from wherever we were and stay with my grandparents in Pennsylvania. We would stay, have fun and visit everyone before we headed to the next Naval station my dad was being stationed at for the next three to four years.

What the word Home represents for me

That is how I developed my sense of home. Since we moved so often but we always came home to Potter County, Pennsylvania, no matter what, Potter County, became home for me. I still refer to Pennsylvania as my home even though I have made a home with my husband and twin sons in Colorado. It’s home to my heart and where so many of my family & childhood memories are. My grandparents are buried there, my cousin is buried there, my aunts/uncles, and most of my cousins live there. I have a couple of close friends that live in the area too, so I not only see family but I also get to see friends when we visit. I loved & still love coming home to see all of my family.

When I was a kid, we normally stayed with my grandparents in Shinglehouse but got together as a group at my grandparent’s camp. Their camp was named, Cutty Sark Hill, and was located just outside of Shinglehouse on the way to Coudersport, PA. Cutty Sark is a blended Scotch whiskey that my grandpa loved and enjoyed to drink, hence the name. They had a small but comfortable house/camp that sat on a spacious hill with a grove of trees and an above ground pool. We normally went there in the summer and I can still to this day remember the smells and sounds of being out in the country. My twin brother, Mark, and my cousin, Squeaker, (not his real name, obviously) built a tree fort on the backside of the property that I wasn’t allowed to play in. It was for boys only…that so wouldn’t fly with me today! 🙂

Welcome to Potter County Sign
I love seeing this sign when we are driving in from the airport!

We swam in the above ground pool with our cousins. We rode go-carts up and down the hill. We had cousin sleepovers in front of the wood-burning fireplace in sleeping bags. We ran around and played all over the top of the hill because it was out in the country and we could be outside all day long and no one worried about us. In the winter, if we happened to be there at that time of year, we would go sledding and drink big mugs of hot cocoa. The memories are sweet and make me feel like I’m home when I think of them. Pennsylvania has all the warm fuzzy feelings that I associate with what home should feel like.

Most people don’t know where Potter County is, let alone Shingleshouse or Oswayo, but it really is God’s Country. Think majestic rolling hills, Amish buggies on the two-lane roads, small towns with friendly neighbors, and red barns that I just LOVE!

Amish buggy on the road in Potter County
Amish Buggy on the road in Potter County
Red barn
The red barn in my parents back yard
Map of Potter County
Shinglehouse, Oswayo, and Coudersport are at the top left of the map. Cutty Sark Hill is someplace in between number 8 and 9 on the map. I’m not sure I could find my way there now without some help from my Aunts.

Remembering those that are no longer with us

There are a few members of the family who are no longer with us, but they still shine bright in my memories and my heart. I miss them, but am so thankful for the time I did get to spend with them and how much love we all shared. This is how I’m feeling about my dear friend who recently passed. She also loved going home to her family’s farm in Wisconsin. That was where her heart was and I believe it may be resting there now as she lays in eternal peace. She always talked about her memories growing up on the farm and picking chickens during chicken season. She took her sons there and they experienced the wonders of the farm too. I hope they keep those memories close to their hearts now as they navigate the world without their beautiful mom in it.

My friend and I shared the sentiment and warm fuzzy feelings of home and how that formed us as young adults and made us both grateful for all that home stands for. For me, the word home stands for love, family, loyalty, comfort, peace, and knowing you belong. The feelings I get when I think of home are warm, special, loving, welcoming, peaceful, and, light-filled.

Heading home

As I get ready to head home to Potter County again in a week with my husband and twin boys, I’m excited to see my loved ones even though we may have to see each other at a distance this year due to the pandemic. Whenever I think of home, my heart is happy. I love that my parents still own a house in the country of Potter County so we can all gather and share more memories with the next generation (my twin sons).

I want to teach them that home is really wherever you are with those that love you and hold you dear. I try very hard to fill our Colorado home with these feelings so my sons will grow up with all the warm fuzzy feelings of the home like I did. We are fortunate that our sons won’t have to move every three to four years and that they will hopefully be settled and grow up in our family home for many years to come. For me though, my memories of home as a child will always take me back to Potter County, Pennsylvania and I will always hold the feelings and the physical place in my heart with all the warm fuzzy feelings that the word home brings up for me.

Fall leaves in Potter County
I’m looking forward to the fall colors in Potter County