THE LAST VISIT TO HOME FOR NOW

by David Sisler

It was the best of times, but for the first time in 75 years the cedar-shingled house at 117 Shenandoah Avenue in Loch Lynn, Maryland is not owned by someone whose last name is Sisler. On Monday, my brother, Kyle and I signed the papers which will transfer ownership of the place where we grew up. I was the last member of the family to be in the house. I walked through, room by room, one last time, then closed and locked the door, and drove away without looking back.

In the fall of 1925, Stella Sisler, my paternal grandmother, bought the house for $1500, a significant sum in those pre-depression days. Widowed while her youngest child was only six months old, she took a small pension and raised four children. Grandma remarried about fifteen years later, and in the spring of 1950, sold it to (I'm quoting from the deed) "Melvin Sisler and his wife, Elizabeth Sisler, for the sum of ten dollars," and Dad, Mom and I moved in. Kyle took up residence there the next year.

Home. What thoughts and images come to our minds with the mention of that one little word. We understand what J. Howard Payne meant when he wrote, "Be it ever so humble, there's no place like Home." When Dorothy Gale clicked the ruby slippers together she woke up in her own bed, clutched her dog, Toto, close to her, and cried, "There's no place like home." A German proverb says, "Blessed are the homesick, for they shall reach home." When the prodigal son came to his senses he thought of home. Or was it thoughts of home which restored him to his senses?

Home. I think of three addresses.

The first is that house in Loch Lynn, where I grew up. The place where my Mom and Dad taught me about God. The place where Kyle and I shared a bedroom and became best friends. The place where all the memories are happy.

The second home is 4214 Cap Chat Street, and although we no longer live there, it is the first place that was uniquely ours. It was the place where Bonnie and I taught our children about God. The place where Jennifer, Amy, Michael, and Matthew, took refuge from the outside. The place where, no matter what, there was always someone to tell me, "I love you." The place where all six of us last lived together.

But let's back up a few years.

Going to auctions with Dad is one of my fondest memories from my childhood. Every Thursday, Dad would buy a copy of The Republican, the local weekly newspaper, and read the sale bills. He would mark one or two auctions, usually one ran by his friend and co-worker, Bill Callis, and early Saturday morning we would set out for the sales. I learned a little about Depression Glass and other collectibles. I enjoyed the excitement when Dad would allow me to bid on something. The best part was simply the time spent with Dad.

As I have written in this space previously, my parents, indeed all of us, were (and are) collectors, and the auctions were the mines where we dug for treasures. Occasionally an antique store or collectible shop would go out of business and that sale became priority number one for the weekend. I remember Dad buying a lot of 120 pieces of cobalt blue Depression Glass for $12. Not one single piece is today worth that little.

Dad died almost four years ago, and Mom died last fall, so to complete the settling of the estate, we followed local tradition and hired an auctioneer. It was ironic, then, and very fitting, several of the people at the sale were "dealers." Many of the pieces which we collected over the years will now make their way into the hands of other collectors. It was sad, but it just seemed right.

There was another touch of irony over the weekend. Twenty-five years ago, Larry and Becky Friend moved in next door and began to raise a family. They were the youngsters, Mom and Dad the middle-aged next-door-neighbors. In a few days another young couple will move in, and Larry and Becky will assume the status relinquished by Melvin and Elizabeth. Life goes on. Homes change.

And that brings me to the third and final home, Heaven, where I will live, and live forever, because of Jesus of Nazareth, God's only begotten Son. It is a permanent abiding place. The place where Father is. The place my Elder Brother is preparing for me, and all who will put their eternal trust in him. The place of untroubled hearts. Home!

-30-

Published in The Augusta Chronicle 5/13/2000

Copyright 2000 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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