“Some things will never change. Some things will always be the same. Lean down your ear upon the earth and listen.” — Thomas Wolfe, “You Can’t Go Home Again.”
Hello friends. I come to you today with a pronouncement: life is cyclical. OK, its rather obvious that life does run its cycles — birth, life and death are the cycles of life. However, in my world, returning to Rockingham to live has become part of my life cycle.
In 1987, I left Rockingham to honorably serve my country in the United States Coast Guard. I returned in 1994. I left in 1994 to move to Winston-Salem to work in the golf industry. I returned in 1997. I left again in 2005 to attend East Carolina in Greenville for my master’s degree (I did graduate … you have to say that, it’s an East Carolina thing. If you know, you know). I returned in 2011. I left again in 2017 for a teaching job in Michigan. I have now returned in 2023. So, what have I learned from all of this?
I’m learning that the cost of hiring someone to move me and my stuff back from Michigan is as much as a down payment of a new car. Also, I know at my age (56) I’m not about to get any help moving by paying my friends three pieces of pizza and two Coors Lights. So, there is that expense.
I’m also learning that it’s important to be closer to one’s family. Same town, same county, same street, across the parking lot, wherever. This is not just for family gatherings or to ask your cousin, who is an electrician, to come over and help you put up a ceiling fan. When you are living away, you lose that family connection that is so important. I have several relations that I’ve lost contact with over the years and that has recently started to sadden me. As I have learned by being away for as long as I have (22 years collectively) the closeness of families is important.
However, the most important part I have learned in my cyclical life is that the love of a parent for a child is timeless. It does not matter if you are 22 or 56 or 76, your parents’ love is eternal. If you have the opportunity, you should call your parents every day and tell them that you love them. They will appreciate it. If everyone took that two minutes to call their parents daily just to tell them that you love them, just imagine how great that would make them feel, and how good you would feel as well.
A brief aside. Back in June 1994, there was an incident that caused both world and national headlines. In the media fervor that arose from this event (not to mention being saddled with the Kardashians) there was a lesson that I learned. In one of the multiple interviews, one of the victim’s sisters said that she remembered the victim’s last words were to her were, “I love you.” From that point and since 1994, I have always made the effort to end my phone calls with “bye, I love you.”
Sometimes, I have not done it, but more times than not, I have.
So, you may ask yourself, McDonald what does all of this have to do with cycles? It just shows that life is a cycle. Learning curves, falling, getting up, falling, getting up but still trying are as much a cycle as birth, life and death. However, I disagree with Mr. Wolfe. You can go home again; it is just part of the cycle.
By the way, it’s good to be home.
Christopher McDonald is an accomplished educator and military veteran with experience in print and radio.