The Spirit of a Home

Children and dogs are as necessary to the welfare of
our country as Wall Street and the railroads."
Harry S. Truman

When Anna Cate was a baby, I stayed home with her until she was 2 and a half. When we realized we were not one of those families who could make major sacrifices for me to continue to stay home, I was so lucky enough to get a job back at my old school, back to the same exact subject I was teaching before. When it came to care for Anna Cate, I only made one phone call about day care, to Miss Diana.  I knew Diana from church, and that she was a friend of BJ's mom, Susie. When we talked, she told me a bit about the way she runs things, and I don't remember much from that conversation, but I do remember her saying "This is a HOME first and foremost."

So we have dropped one or both of my girls off at Miss Diana's home since August of 2008, for five years.  In the midst of learning their ABCs, seasons of the year, days of the week, how to share with other kids, my girls have experienced things I would never have imagined or thought to teach.  From end-of-the-year sleepover celebrations, and ice skating on shaving cream, to hibernation days and holiday parties, I've been comforted with the fact that my children were having great experiences.   

Yet there are times that I've been sad about not being at home with them, but last week I was reminded of just how real that home experience has been. The embodiment of such played out in children circling around Daisy, the family dog.
Hibernation Day 2009, Anna Cate's first year at Diana's.

In fact, before we got Rosie, when Anna Cate would talk about a dog, I would say, "you have a dog at Miss Diana's." Daisy, pictured above, shared the name of my first childhood dog.  In fact my first sentence according to my family was, "Is that Daisy?"

Leading up to the day I speak of, Daisy (Miss Diana's dog) hasn't been able to walk by herself, and last Friday the decision was made to put her down that weekend.  So on Friday morning, before the school kids got on the bus, they circled around her with tears and heavy hearts having heard the news from Diana.  I didn't see it, but my best friend Norah texted me how upset Anna Cate was and I was reminded of the school day decades before when I knew it was my Daisy's last day.  It seemed so similar. 

That afternoon when I went to pick the girls up, Anna Cate was on the floor with Daisy and  I saw a note on Diana's kitchen table from Anna Cate. In "writing work shop," she wrote about how much she loved Daisy and told Miss Diana how sorry she was. Molly plainly said to me in the midst of the serene setting, "Daisy is going to die."  In this profound yet typical family experience of losing a pet, I've realized yet again that my kids are experiencing home... even if not with me as a stay-at-home-mom.  

 I've been looking back at pictures Diana has sent me over the years.

   It's so evident that my girls have been in a home. Lately, I'm noticing the story lines in literature and themes of history portraying the struggle between the law and the spirit: be it in religious history of the Pharisees and the Nazarene, in a musical setting with Javier and ValJean, a parable of the Prodigal Son or in my own definition of a perfect setting for child-rearing.  I wonder how much of life we toil in clinging to strict definitions, possibly missing the spirit of that for which we long.  In my case, I long for my children to experience home and am so grateful that they have it in ours and in Miss Diana's... and Daisy's.

"Until one has loved an animal, part of one's soul remains unawakened."
~Anatole France


Anonymous said…
Well, I knew this was going to be a tear jerker BEFORE I started it when I read the title...but I didn't realize how fresh grief comes back so rapidly. Thank you for sharing such a poignant story about Daisy of Miss Diana's home. My memory and the pain I felt flashed back in an instant to the day we put our beloved Daisy down. How blessed I was to hold her in my arms as our dear vet, Tom, came to our home to do it.

All of the pictures at Miss Diana's made me feel even more grateful, if possibe, for the days and years that your precious children have shared with her.

Thank you again for sharing your sensitive touch on this slice of life.

I loved the quote!