Blessings, Connecting, Family, Life, Love, Rainbows

Going Home, Again

They say it can be easy, but…

Such a simple phrase — Going Home, Again — but with profound implications when you grew up in an orphanage, a children’s home, or as a resident of family services. Going home again, can be a challenge, but it can also be a revelation.

The Home

A couple of weekends ago, June 22-23, 2019, a group of “old” kids got together to remember, reflect, and on Saturday, to dedicate The Hough House. We came home.

During the dedication ceremony of the brick structure that was the home of the Franklin Hough family, the current Executive Director, Dr. Richerson mentioned that the number of children that passed through the campus was counted to be over 30,000. I was one of them.

These were children who relied on the support of strangers. Not because they desired it, but in many cases, it meant life or death. Children who knew nothing about what their potential future may hold, but were clinging to the hope that the people who were entrusted with their care, would do them right.

The dedication of The Hough House helped bring that home to me. It also brought back many memories. Two of the three sons of Mr. and Mrs. Hough, Jr along with their daughter were there to celebrate their father and grandfather’s work. Together, we remembered living on campus as one and we celebrated the Hough legacy.

Listening to different ones share their memories through story, one thing became very obvious. We were family then. Not all by blood. But, by a unique set of events that thrust us together. The important thing I realized, we still are family.

What’s In A Name?

The Baptist Orphanage of Virginia first opened its doors in 1890. Then, around 1953 the name was changed to the Virginia Baptist Children’s Home (VBCH) to reflect the change in need of the children. Most were no longer true orphans, but were there due to financial hardships or other family tragedies. VBCH was the name I came to know, hate, and then loved.

The "Old Main" Building on VBCH campus
The “Old Main” Building on VBCH campus circa built 1900s raised 1960s

Through the years, the needs of Virginia’s youth, and adults required more help, more intervention, more hope. Thus, in 1985, the Virginia Baptist Children’s Home changed its name again to include the families it served. The change made the name long – The Virginia Baptist Children’s Home & Family Services. Now, it is doing business as HopeTree Family Services. There is still a residency campus in Salem, VA at the same location. This name covers more aptly the vast services offered.

The Work

Many of the old buildings are gone. I remembered walking their halls. But somehow, the ghosts of those old buildings reflected the work that is still going there now. And the new structures show the determination to continue that work.

When I was growing up there, at any one time, there were at least 200 or more young souls running around, being kids, learning how to live, and to do it together. There were adults who served as our houseparents. They were surrogates. Their job was not easy. I know that now. At the time, I thought they were there to be cruel, rub in the fact I was an “orphan,” or it was a job.

The administrative staff worked miracles as I look back on how they managed to wrangle so many of us with so many different issues. To think as many of us turned out as good as we did is in and of itself magic.

You see, the need has not changed, what has changed is the services offered to Virginia’s families now. It is much broader and reaches a diverse group of souls.

Reunion Time

The lives touched by those who made campus life in Salem possible was seen in the dedication of the members of the VBCH Reunion Committee. This committee is made up of “old” kids who were residents. Often their spouses pinched in to help.

It took me over 40 years to walk on campus again. And when I did in 2009, I was numb, excited, and marveled at how the campus looked different from my memory.

This past weekend, walking around the campus, I saw many more changes. Hours before the dedication was to take place, finishing touches were being made on a new handicap access ramp to the old print shop building, which now serves as a museum.

Then, I saw my brother, moving around the reunion table setup in front of the museum. He was helping Debbie, Stan, Fred, Larry, and many others, too numerous to name, getting things ready for the days ceremony.

Visiting – Greeting – Remembering

Different “old” kids began arriving. It was a joy to hug and greet them. It was going to be a good afternoon.

My husband, Albert, and I went into the museum. Pictures of the campus as it was in the early years were on display. They contrasted with images I had in my mind. We looked at old annuals of Andrew Lewis High School where “The HIll” kids mingled with “The City” kids. The annual I picked up and looked at with care was the “final” album. My little brother, Ralph, was a member of that last class–the class of 1977.

Bitter sweet memories of Ralph, Archie, and I came to mind…

Searching through the pages, I found images of him playing football. Happy. Five years later, he would be gone from us. Bitter sweet memories of Ralph, Archie, and I came to mind when we’d play, fight, and then run around the grounds with other “brothers and sisters.”

Next, we walked through rooms replicated to depict scenes of life on campus–the infirmary room, the dinning hall, a cottage room. Each I could relate to, and I shared with Albert memories or events.

On one wall were the portraits of two Executive Directors – Franklin Hough, Sr. and his son, Franklin Hough, Jr. They were the reason for the dedication of the Hough residence.

Life

During my ten-year residency, I lived in three cottages. The first being Hobday and the second was Robertson — an innovative cottage for brothers/sisters to live in together that was consider “close to a real home life.” The summer of my Junior year in high school, I moved to Shiloh cottage to live during my Senior year.

While on campus that Saturday, my last roommate with me in Shiloh, Laura, greeted me. We hadn’t seen each other for two years. It was fun to catch up, talk, and commiserate.

We walked the campus together talking about the different cottages as we meandered the sidewalk to where we lived. Shiloh no longer stood where it once protected us. The shadows of that building structure formed into a ghostly image. There it stood in my mind all the same.

Hobday Cottage on VBCH campus with the print shop to the left.

Hobday cottage with the print shop to the left

Then, when we walked back to the center of campus, across the parking area from where the old main building once stood. I looked to my right and saw myself as a young eight year-old girl, carrying my suitcase up the steps to Hobday cottage. Hoping my life would not end, praying I’d be okay.

And, as it turns out, I was okay then. On this day, I had come home again and I was doing well.

My husband waved to me. We needed to walk down to The Hough House. It was time to make more memories with my family.


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Personal Aside…

This past Wednesday, June 26, was our daughter, Julie’s birthday! Happy Birthday lovely, young woman! May you have a most wonderful year! HUGS to YOU!

Pam's Quill - Going Home

Write on!
Pam

This post Going Home, Again was first posted on Pam’s Blog on June 28, 2019.

Birthday, Family

Happy Birthday Dad and J.R.R.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

Today, January 3, is an important day. It is the day of the birth of two men that have made a profound impact on my life. One, my dad. The other, an author.

My dad, James Conley Brooks, would have celebrated his 99th birthday.

In August of 2002, my dad passed away. He had been under hospice care for about six or so months. The week before he passed, we had traveled to the grocery store. He loved going to Kroger’s, riding in the assisted motorized buggies. He dressed as like a dapper man with his Stetson flat cap in grey herringbone tweed.

I asked while helping him into the buggy, “Dad, would you like for me to walk with you?”

Dad said, “No. You need to go on and gather the groceries. I’m going to see if I can pick me up a fine-looking woman and see if we can go out dancing.”

“You can’t be serious?” I smiled at him. He was fighting Parkinson’s and he had COPD, so he carried oxygen with him every where.

“Well, of course I am, daughter!”

He loved teasing me, pushing a button when I was in a hurry, and he would wink at my husband to let him know he was just “fooling,” as he would say.

I miss him. He could make me laugh.

If you have a story to share about your dad, feel free to post in the comments section.

J. C. Brooks Birthday card
The author, known to many as “The Professor” is J. R. R. Tolkien. On this day, he would have been 127 years old.

Though I wish it were possible, I never met The Professor in person. I met him through his writing. The first book of his that I read, The Hobbit, made a profound mark on my reading life. The second, The Lord of the Rings (all three books) finished off what The Hobbit started.

I was hooked. Big time. After that first encounter, I searched for other authors that would do for me what The Professor did to me. It didn’t take long and I fell in love with C. S. Lewis, The Professor’s good friend and fellow writing friend.

Between those two, I learned that I wanted to do to words what they did. I am still wanting to work their kind of magic. I struggle, but I keep thinking about what they did to help the world of writing become what it is. I marvel at the well placed word or thought. I search for ways to write a common idea in a new way, much as they did. The difference? They learned how to make it read and sound and seem normal.
JRR Tolkien Birthday card

Who is your favorite author? Leave a thought about who has touched your life in a profound way.

Until next time…

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This post first appeared on Pam’s Blog on Pam’s website on January 3, 2019.

Family, Magical Moments, Remembrance

40 Years! You & Me, Babes!

Friday, August 26, 1978 was the day I said, “I do,” to the man I loved then and do so still. Today, August 26, 2018, we celebrate our love.

Enjoy, with us, a short trip down memory lane from back then…

The Wedding Invitation – Forty years ago!

Invitation to our wedding in 1978 - forty years ago.
Invitation to our wedding in 1978.

The Inside

Forty yrs ago - Invitation
Invitation

The Ceremony

The wedding started promptly at 4:00 p.m. and was such fun. We wrote our own vows and had the organist play music that was popular of the times — Tubular Bells from the Exorcist; Nights in White Satin by Moody Blues; and Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin. Music of the 70s at its finest.

We walked each other down the aisle, and doing so cut the ceremony down by about 10 minutes. After the ceremony, Albert and I were walking out of the church (ahead of the guests) when we saw a couple we had known for several years walking up the sidewalk. Suddenly, the wife took the gift she was carrying and hit her husband upside the head and said, “I told you we would miss it!”

Albert and I laughed so hard.

The Reception

Throughout the reception line, Albert kept pulling at his collar; even back then he would sweat just by breathing. We were looking forward to getting out of our clothes. It was a hot August day.

Wedding image on Aug 26, 1978.
Cutting the cake on Aug 26, 1978.

We saved the top of the cake for our one year anniversary. It didn’t keep well. Neither one of us got a good taste of the cake. We heard it was wonderful.

We had matches as souvenirs. Wish I had a picture of the matchbook. It said The Perfect Match with our names and date. Of course, back then, everybody smoked.

The After Party and the Honeymoon

We left the church and everyone was invited to our house out in the cove. It was an old farm-house we rented with 29 acres. A wonderful place that we enjoyed very much. We lived there all of four months. The landlord decided he wanted to sell the farm. Being young newly weds, we couldn’t afford it.

Lots of folks dropped in for the after party. We left for our honeymoon about ten that night. One of my bridesmaids agreed to stay at our house while we were gone on our honeymoon.

Our Honeymoon began as one big adventure that kept repeating itself (Stay tuned for future reveals). My husband is not a planner when we travel. Any plans we have, it is because I make them. It was my job to plan and pull off the wedding. His one and only job was the honeymoon. I should have known what was in store for me, but I was blinded by love.

The First Surprise

We arrived in Roanoke about 11 or 11:30 p.m.; and I asked where would we be staying. Albert smiled at me and said, “It’s a surprise.” And it was.

Albert had failed to make reservations. As it turned out, there were two different concerts that weekend–one in Salem and one in Roanoke. There were no beds to be had. I lost count after the fifth hotel/motel we stopped to check for a possible bed. It was getting close to 12:30 a.m. when I looked at Albert and said, “Okay, I give. Where is the surprise?”

He laughed and said, “I’ll try one more place.” It was a Motel 6. He came back to the truck (yes, my husband is such a romantic) and said, “I got us a room. But, you’re going to have to be imaginative about the room.”

I snickered and wondered aloud, “How imaginative?”

“It will be fine,” he replied.

The manager walked us up to the room, which I thought was odd. All of the rooms along the corridor opened on to the walkway-balcony. The manager stopped at the end room and looked at me and said, “I’m sorry miss, but this is all we have.”

He opened the door and there were two twin beds, unmade, covered with old furniture. To add insult to injury, there was no air conditioning.

By about 2:00 a.m., we finished moving the furniture and got settled in for the night.

“Honey, you’ve been such a good sport, I want to give you this gift to show you my love,” Albert said handing me a beautifully wrapped box.

I replied, “Oh, my. I have something for you too.” I handed him a smaller box wrapped in blue paper with summer flowers.

He opened his box and it was an engraved pocket watch with Roman numerals with the clock works on display as the second-hand revolved around the face. My box contained a gorgeous diamond necklace.

We snuggled and fell to sleep out of exhaustion.

We hope you enjoyed our little trip down memory lane! We will share more adventures of our time together these last forty years as we celebrate our love.

Update on my next book

The second book, DarkShadow, of The Chronicles of Eldershire is in process. Plans are to have a preliminary DRAFT finished by fall. It is later than planned, but this past summer was hard on me health wise. I found out I was allergic to soy and sesame seed, and then I got shingles. If that wasn’t enough, I’ve fought two bouts of poison ivy. Oh the joys!

Hugs and Write On!
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40 Years! You & Me, Babes! first appeared on Pam’s Blog on August 26, 2018.

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