My father always told me it did not matter where we buried him because his soul would be in heaven. Then a few years ago, he told me he wanted to be buried in Titusville, his home town, in the family plot where his mother and father are both buried.
The call of home must be stronger than I assumed. Or perhaps age brings on a nostalgia that is more pointed than I can imagine in these middle-aged years. After all, it was at the age I am now that my father said it didn’t matter where he was buried.
Or perhaps the difference is that we spent our early lives moving from place to place. We moved eight times during my childhood. I too was born in Titusville, as was my sister. But for us Titusville was not a permanent home. It was where we would return. Every summer and every Christmas, whether we were living in Arizona, Louisiana, Utah, Texas, or Alabama, we would return to central Florida. To family. We would travel across the country in our Datsun station wagon, my sister and I sprawled in the back with our sleeping bags, the luggage, and no seat belts. To get to my mom’s parents’ home, we had to pass the cemetery on Garden Street.
After I had children I told my parents that if they moved back to Florida I would not promise to visit them twice a year the way we visited my late grandparents. Yet, for some reason, we still make the trip. In fact, my children have visited the space coast every year of their lives. Maybe the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian River call to me too.
Mississippi is now home, as I have lived the majority of my adult life here. It is where I am raising my family. For now, it is where I feel compelled to live and teach. My daughters will likely graduate from secondary school in Mississippi. I wonder which call will be stronger for them. Will they hear the ocean or will the longleaf pines be where they want to return?