The Family Den
In the 1970’s, people referred to their family room as “The Den”. Last week, my sweet cousin sent me a picture of our family sanctuary. As I studied it intently, the emotions came swiftly and unexpectedly. I saw much more than just a photo. I began to feel warm comfort, love, and peace. My first tooth was pulled in this room. I learned how to multiply and divide in this space. I held my first job here, as I was the designated channel changer, the human remote, if you will. It was mostly on- the- job training, and I excelled at my duties.
In the lower, right-hand corner is my mother’s foot which was in constant motion as it swayed back and forth, up and down, round and round. In the early days, those feet were very active. Daily multiple trips were made back and forth to the kitchen to pop corn, fill glasses, and put loads of clothes in the washer and dryer as she tirelessly finished the duties of each day.
Nestled in the back of the den was the chief of all chairs…. the Lazy Boy recliner. My Daddy’s body was imprinted in the faux leather. Beside his chair was always a bountiful supply of chocolate cream drops, circus peanuts, and orange slices. Make no mistake, he was the king of the den.
What a sweet season of life! It was not perfect, but perfect for us. Many family Christmas Eve’s, Thanksgiving dinners, and impromptu gatherings (which always included homemade ice cream or dessert of some kind) were held there. Frequently, I revisit this room in my mind, especially these days. I long for this place of solace.
In the years that followed, there would be tears, laughter, and discipline that usually included a hickory switch, but there was always love and pure unadulterated JOY that filled these four walls. I witnessed my strong, tough Daddy cry for the first time in this very room after hearing the news of my grandfather’s imminent death. In 1982, we would mourn the loss of a long-time childhood friend’s untimely passing. It was a day that will never be forgotten. Grief and loss never actually go away. On occasion, my parents spoke with tear- filled eyes about their little girl, Dawn Lu Anne, my sister that died when she was 3 months old. My brother and I would never understand this great loss until we had our first child and experienced the genuine love of a parent.
The fireplace was always active in the winter and the air conditioner in the far window was blowing at full capacity in the hot summer months. Central heat and air would be a luxury that would come much later.
Real life was lived within the borders of this room at #1 Hillcrest. Evenings were filled with watching Andy Griffith, Lawrence Welk, Hee Haw, Hawaii Five - O, and Laugh In. How blissful were the days for our little household! Dorothy, you were so right… “There is no place like HOME”. I want to go back to this sacred place, where the glasses are always full, the porch light is always on, and loving arms are always open! My Home…. There is no place I would rather be.