A little more than a year ago my husband was just a friend who had come to visit me in my Amish Country home of Ohio. I took him and a few friends to visit my grandma, a delightful Amish woman full of spunk and wit. I imagine that my grandma has always been a social butterfly at heart, but perhaps the macular degeneration that has been slowly taking her vision contributes to her love of visitors. Once an avid reader, penpal, and quilter, my grandma’s hobbies have been stolen away by this condition. When her eye-sight started going, I started to realize how much the Amish really give up for their faith. If I was a widow losing my ability to see, I would listen to music or books on tape. I would talk on the phone with friends and download podcasts of fascinating interviews. My grandma lives dutifully without all of the technology that would make any of these comforts possible. That is of course…unless my dad sneaks a laptop in front of her… but more about that later.
After his visit with my grandma, Drew asked me if I could take him to read to her that next week. I’ve never admitted it really, but when I walked into grandma’s little house to pick Drew up after he’d been at her house for an hour, and grandma said “Oh we’ve just been talking this whole time,” and Drew added, “Maybe come back in another hour?” …he had my attention from that moment on. My grandma knew a few random facts about my husband before I even did. She was the one who told me he was adopted, for instance. And he knew all the current local gossip for that week. They were fast friends it seemed.
Last week my dad brought the laptop with him on a visit to the center where his sister is receiving physical therapy from her recent stroke. My grandma was with him and to my delight, I got to Skype with my Amish grandma and aunt. This was so much fun. She was her same old self, making small-talk and inserting a few subtly witty comments as we chatted. She gently teased Drew for his increasingly Amish style, complete with an Amish looking beard and haircut.
She and my aunt may be one of the few Amish ladies who has now seen (granted a very small and indoor piece of) Thailand, thanks to Skype.
The taste of home was very welcome. Though I don’t get home-sick per say, there are certainly days where I sigh at the thought of how refreshing a night in front of my parents’ wood stove would be, or even just an hour spent in the local coffee shop back home. Familiarity. I miss that some days. I am a stranger in Thailand: constantly learning and adjusting from deeply carved Western ways, despite my well-traveled youth. I cannot help but be Western in as much as I cannot help loving peanut butter and I cannot help loving folk music. Thus, my good friend Britt’s care package was a very welcome taste of home as well. Quite literally, as it was packed with the most delicious cheese made right in my hometown by her own father, and the blueberry-yoghurt flavored pretzels purchased at the bulk food store ten minutes away from my parents’ house. It was perfect.
Travel makes home a very sweet and well-valued thing.