There’s No Place Like Home

9 08 2020

When Rick called me with his request, I knew immediately I couldn’t refuse him; after all Rock _nwe had been friends for years and I knew he wouldn’t be asking if he wasn’t desperate. He lived 120 miles west of me and wanted me to come there, pick him up and take him to parent’s home some 300 miles the other way. Rick was suffering from a type of cancer that had slowly been taking life away for several years. He could no longer drive and even had trouble standing or walking for short periods, and this may be the last time he’d ever see his childhood home. “Rick, you be ready at 8 tomorrow morning; I’ll pick you up and we’ll be to the farm before nightfall.”

It took a little while to load all the things Rick was taking home, including the extra blankets because this disease made him feel cold constantly, but soon we were on our way maneuvering through the busy city streets of Chicago until we were on the highway heading east. During our travels we talked about how he was doing, what good and bad days were like for him; thankfully, he was having a good one at this time, probably fueled with the knowledge he was heading home. We talked on my subjects, music of course since we were both musicians, philosophies, ideologies, life experiences, and the love we both shared for our Lord. It was a nice visit we shared with smiles and laughter since we had not seen each other in years. When we entered northwest Ohio, I pointed out to him how flat the terrain was; something he already knew since we both grew up in that region. “You really don’t care for the land here, do you, John?” “I like it alright Rick, but remember my birth state is West Virginia, and where I live now is rather rolling. So, when you compare to those places, I find this area boring.” “Oh John, you feel that way because you’ve never been a farmer. To them this land is paradise; easy to plow, plant and reap a harvest. When the crop is full, for miles there’s nothing more beautiful.” Taking a quick glimpse of my friend I could see a faraway look in his eyes, as if he could see something no one was able to. Rick, old friend, you make it sound like you miss this world.” There was a pause before he said, “There is no place on the face of the earth that I love as much as I loved my days on the farm.” I found that comment a bit intriguing. Here was a man that left shortly after graduating from high school; he went to college and pursued a career that allowed him many luxuries including hobnobbing with many famous people. He traveled extensively and lived a jet setters’ life, one that many would love to have experienced. But now, my old friend was telling me his greatest love was for the old farmstead, simple, basic, and filled with more life coming from the yield the land produced, than a dozen large cities and a hundred celebrities. He was so happy to be going home. And I like that.

Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, “Possessions, outward success, publicity, luxury – to me these have always been contemptible. I believe that a simple and unassuming manner of life is best for everyone, best for both the body and the mind.”

Perhaps this is what Rick meant when talking about the farm, for once we reached his home, I knew there was something special here. His mother, tears of joy rolling down her face embraced the son she had not seen for some time. She quickly saw to his needs and had set up a place in the living room for him to be comfortable. She offered me something to eat, but I needed to get on the road and back to Indiana.  She thanked me several times for bringing her son home before I could get out the door. As I made the trek home another thought entered my mind as I pictured Rick, his mother and the love that was in that old farmhouse, “There’s no place like home.”

It’s about a year later now, and I’m back in Chicago, in a hospital where Rick is laying in a bed with a few family members and a friend close by his side. The sound of his breathing is almost ear-piercing as his body fights for life. This goes on for over an hour and all we can do it stand by his bedside and pray. At a moment when it seemed the death rattle, as it’s called, was at a crescendo, Rick suddenly became quiet. He looked around the room at each of us standing there. One person quietly said, “It’s okay Rick, you can go now.” He gently sank into his pillow, and he was gone. The brother who loved him stayed by him for over an hour afterwards, and I made my way to the nurse’s station to give them the update, and that the family would like some alone time right now. I walked farther down the hallway to a waiting room and looked out the window. Being seven stories up, there appeared to be a million lights illuminating the city as I look out the window; it’s not my cup of tea, but I could see how Rick could fall in love with Chicago. I imagined Rick was one of the lights staring back at me.

The hour was late; Rick’s brother would be staying to make necessary arrangements, and I started making my way home. As I thought of everything that had transpired over the last year, but especially this final day, I began to smile. Once again Rick was headed to a place he knew and he loved, and there was love waiting when he arrived. No sickness, he was happy and whole; he was in the arms of Jesus. I like the way the Message Bible speaks of John 14:3,4; “Don’t let this throw you. You trust God, don’t you? Trust me. There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home. If that weren’t so, would I have told you that I’m on my way to get a room ready for you? And if I’m on my way to get your room ready, I’ll come back and get you so you can live where I live. And you already know the road I’m taking.” As I think back on that night looking at all those lights, I’m reminded of quote that goes something like this, “Don’t cry that I’m no longer here, for I am shooting through to Heaven like a rocket!”

Rick is one of those “Travelers of the Rock Road” that I still think about fairly often, and how I’m glad God allowed our paths to cross. It was hard watching his decline, but from it I learned something valuable. There’s no place like Home!

See you next time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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4 responses

10 08 2020
zelmare

This piece is at once so sad, and so joyful. Thank you for sharing, it definitely touched my heart.

11 08 2020
rockroad

Thank you for your kind words.
Blessings to you and your loved ones.

10 08 2020
davidsdailydose

Well written, as always. Where have you been, lately?
Your story about cherishing the simple things in life made me think of the final line from the classic movie, “Citizen Kane.” The dying rich man’s last words were, “rosebud,” but nobody knew what it meant. It turned out to be the name of his snow sled 🛷 he enjoyed as a child.
Blessings.

11 08 2020
rockroad

Thank you again David for your heart felt words.
Life has been rather busy so I'[m not always able to write as I like. Also, I made a commitment to myself years ago that if a story wasn’t coming and I felt as if I was forcing the words then I wouldn’t write and wait until God gave a idea or memory that flowed.
Blessings to you and your loved ones.

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