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It was a clear, crisp morning—much too cold to be early spring, but he was happy to be out and about. He hadn’t been out in a long time. The car’s heater felt nice on his fragile skin as stared out the window. His oldest son was driving him home on his ninetieth birthday. He hadn’t been home in twentyfive years and he had longed to return before his life came to an end. He had asked his son to bring him, and after many refusals, his son had agreed. He wasn’t sure where he was. The world had changed so much in the years past. He remembered a dirt road lined with farm houses, but now all he saw was a four lane highway, and brick houses scattered around. The trees from his faint memories were no more. Several miles had passed, and finally they turned onto a small black top road. Finally, the old man saw something he recognized—the creek. When he saw it, he knew his home was near. They climbed the hill, and he could see the corner post that he’d helped his father put up many years ago. Most of the fence enclosing the pasture was gone, but he didn’t see. His eyes were shielded by his memories, and he couldn’t see time’s effects. His son turned into the driveway, and he told him to stop. He told him he’d walk, and to stay here. He wanted to go alone. His son reluctantly agreed and got his walker from the trunk and helped the man stand. When the man stood, he was thankful for his big coat. It was colder than he’d realized. He left his son behind as he made his way towards the old house. His heart began to race—this was dangerous for him because of his age, but he didn’t care. He didn’t see that the front porch was falling in. He didn’t see the roof sagging. He didn’t even notice the windows boarded or the paint chipping. No—he saw the house as it was when he was a child growing up. The porch brand new after he and his father built it. The paint fresh when his mother insisted it needed to be painted. The roof repaired because it had been leaky. He saw his mother’s hand sewn drapes covering the windows. He stopped walking and looked to the right, where his father had kept the mules and horses. He could still see them under the sycamore tree, grazing in the shade. He couldn’t notice that the half of the tree was broken off and lying on the ground. He smiled to himself and looked back to his house. He could see smoke rising lazily from the chimney that his father had built before he was born. He could almost hear his mother calling him to fetch some water from the spring. He was getting tired, and his chest was hurting, but he pushed on. He went to the back of his house, where he and his dog had spent many hours playing in the barn. He saw the chicken yard where his mother kept her laying hens, but he couldn’t walk any further. He stopped and leaned on his walker to rest. He gazed at the yard, wrapped in memories, and he didn’t notice that the wire fence was torn down, and the post was broken off. The whole place was overgrown with weeds, but he hardly noticed that, either.

For a moment, he was sure he could hear his dog barking in the barn. He remembered fondly that his dog always found the eggs that he overlooked, and he would bark until he came to retrieve them. He thought he could hear his mother calling him to the back porch. He wanted to go get the eggs for his mother before he went in for supper, and he started to call his dog, but he heard his mother call him louder. He turned to the crumbling back porch and his mother was standing there, smiling, and his father had his arm around her. He made to take a feeble step, but his walker was gone, and he was a child again. He ran towards his parents, and his dog ran beside him barking joyfully. At last he made it to the porch and leapt into his mother’s arms. He was home again.

Going Home  

He wants to go home one last time before he leaves this world.