There’s No Place Like Home

With special thanks to Slice of Life for giving writers inspiration, space, and voice – and a raised glass to L. Frank Baum for today’s title

Slice of Life Day 11 of 31: Journeys (My theme for March)

A poet once wrote:

Be it Ever So Humble, There’s No Place Like Home

I fly home today 

back to where I’m known and loved 

~there’s no place like home! 

our hearts full of smiles

on the Johnson Funny Farm’s

thick pine tree forest 

uncurtained windows 

so we can see our wildlife ~

deer, squirrels, and birds 

travel is focused 

-heightened awareness of place 

of people, of food

of plans to have fun 

to learn, to experience 

culture, history 

to pack the mindset

take it home in my suitcase 

-adventure each day

I fly home today 

back to where I’m known and loved 

~there’s no place like home! 

That poet was me. I wrote it on the last morning of my solo adventure trip to San Antonio, Texas (2/25/2022), on the heels of a week spent sightseeing, exploring, reflecting, reading, and writing. A trip that I almost didn’t take – but I did. I learned some history, forged new paths, tasted new foods, and discovered that solo travel has its perks!

I talked to my dad for thirty seconds short of a full hour on the morning of my departure. I’d texted him the day before: Can you send me by text a brief paragraph of your mother’s last words? He’d called to tell me the story – I’d heard it before, but I needed to hear it again.

My grandmother, Georgia Lee Harris Haynes, was born in Folkston, Georgia on April 7, 1920 but lived most of her life in Waycross, Georgia. She lived at Baptist Village in Waycross during the latter stages of Alzheimer’s Disease and died on Friday, March 21, 2003 at the age of 82. My parents went to visit her there one afternoon shortly before she died, where she spoke her last coherent words to them.

Any time her children visited, the nurses were blessed to see “the most wonderful children, the best children ever,” according to Georgia Lee. The nurses said she was always speaking the language of bragging on her children and how proud she was of them – and rightfully so. She’d raised three – a teacher, a preacher, and an attorney who combines his legal knowledge with selling commercial real estate .

When my parents arrived that day, they found her as lucid and as knowing as ever, with a clear memory. She’d had favorite sayings throughout her parenting days – “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” As a pastor’s wife, her favorite saying was, “The best thing to do is to preach about God and about twenty minutes.” But her favorite saying of all was, “You never can be too careful.”

As my parents listened to her during that visit, they’d expected to hear some of those favorite quotes that she used frequently with her children. Instead, on that day, her words seemed steeped in deep reflection. “You know, I always worried about y’all…..I’ve always worried too much,” she confessed.

Dad, in his pastorly and good son way, reassured her. “It’s okay, Mom, you’re a mama. That’s just what mamas do,” before the haze returned and the clear memories escaped her. Weeks later, he would preside at her funeral.

No photo description available.
Wilson Felix Haynes, Sr. and Georgia Lee Harris Haynes with their grandchildren and great grandchildren, Thanksgiving 1990 in Atlanta, GA

I thought of her words throughout my week, particularly as I wrestled with whether or not I should take a solo trip four states west of my home, on a plane, with just my carry-on and personal bag filled mostly with my new camera buddy – the Canon Rebel. If there was ever a person in the history of the world who never needed a camera with a name like rebel, it’s a preacher’s kid. Namely, me. But we behaved.

I told Dad I’d wanted to hear the story again because it had kept me midway between not being too careful to enjoy life, but being cautious – preventing with an ounce of sense whatever problems I could, to avoid baking a pound of cure. Throughout the week, for example, I’d waved goodbye to an invisible person in front of Uber drivers and others and made fake phone calls to say, “Hey, just letting you know I’m in a gray Mercedes SUV, arriving in 14 minutes. I sent you a screenshot of the license plate on the Uber screen so you can be on the lookout for me.” I’d exited Ubers by greeting walls of buildings and window ghosts with an excited smile and enthusiastic “hello!” I’d watched for families and groups and blended in on the fringes to appear to be one of them as I’d walked the streets of San Antonio all by myself. Somehow, I believed my grandmother would be proud of me for not having been too careful – for straddling the line in the middle of the road, with one foot in the lane of living life to the fullest and one foot in the lane of careful cautiousness.

Dad confessed that he’d worried about me ( it’s in his DNA). “You know, I know you’re smart, but I hoped you wouldn’t do anything dumb being out there so far away, traveling all alone.” I told him how I’d avoided doing something dumb when the opportunity had presented itself. I’d encountered a suspicious Uber driver who had tried to convince me that I should get in his car and let him take me home from the rodeo. He’d pulled up his Uber app attempting to prove he was really an Uber driver and not some phony. I’d prayed up a lot of prayers in anticipation of this trip for safe drivers- especially for a safe one on this late weeknight following a concert on the outskirts of downtown. I didn’t give the obvious phony the time of day, but emphasized my confirmation of an Uber on its way as I kept walking to the Letter C sign in the RideShare zone. A few minutes later as I waited in the wind-whipping cold, a delightful Richard pulled up alongside me. I’d been so relieved to step into his car! I have no doubt that my grandmother and my mother were working as guardian angels to see me safely home – – guiding Richard’s finger as he tapped the screen to accept the job of picking me up and delivering me safely to 423 Blue Star.

And I’d prayed that they’d see me safely from 423 Blue Star to the Johnson Funny Farm as I made my way home to where I belong. One can never be too careful. Travel is an adventure, but at the end of the trip, there’s no place like home!

I arrived at Hartsfield in Atlanta to find that the ground transportation tunnels were lit up with yellow and blue, the colors of the Ukraine Flag. I stood where the yellow met the blue, waiting on my electric blue RAV 4 driven by my husband, to pick me up, thankful to be getting in my own car and not another Uber, thankful to live in the United States of America. Thankful to be back home.

Philippians 4: 6-7

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

3 Replies to “There’s No Place Like Home”

  1. I’ve so enjoyed your Texas travels, Kim, and today I savored this trip back in time to encounter the one and only Georgia Lee H. H. I believe she and my Grannie (Lillie) would have hit it off quite well. Her quotes are gems to be treasured for life. As to being a rebel… when my friend’s mom found out that my husband of one year was going into the ministry, she told me friend that she couldn’t see me as a preacher’s wife. How’s that for good old-fashioned judgment? Here’s the thing: the faith is all about redemption, is it not?? So much more to say – let me condense: That retro photo brings back SO many memories, and I felt a wave of relief as I read of you making it back to the tunnels in Atlanta, hauntingly lit in the colors of the Ukrainian flag. There is no place like home…and they’ve had to run from theirs, and nothing will ever be the same.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Kim – such a rich and touching post. The poem moves into journey into remembrance. The love the way you weave your relationship with your dad with your dad’s relationship with his mother. So sweet and powerful. Ending with
    Philippians 4: 6-7 was just what I need to start off this day – the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kim, your verses today are among my favorites. Your advice for solo travelers is so smart. I have a tendency to talk to strangers w/out a second thought about whether or not one might be a serial killer. I need to be more careful when traveling in the U.S. I am careful when out of the country, mostly because I do t want my big mouth to land me in a foreign jail, and I don’t want to get mugged. I’ve so enjoyed reading about your trip, and love this story about family. As I read I returned to a question I’ve pondered in recent years: When did this place become home? I might have to write about it (Maybe I have?). Indeed, you can never be too careful, but you also never walk alone, something else I know you know. *Hugs*

    Liked by 1 person

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