I live in my boyhood home.
I am 70 years old.
I miss my mother and father.
The house dates to 1899. It is in Whitney Point, NY, where two rivers merge and where you can see a bald eagle just about anywhere.
My parents - Rilla Stone Johnston and Walter Kenneth Johnston - raised my sister, Charlene, and me here from the time she was eleven and I was seven. I lived out of the area for two decades and moved back in 2003 with my wife, Sharon.
I have lived more life here than anywhere else, celebrating triumphs, enduring failures, and finding sustenance in casual conversation. My father died here despite my attempts to resuscitate him. This is where I began one of those casual conversations with my mother before remembering she had died a few days earlier.
Evidence of my parents' lives and imprints of time are everywhere: from my father's fading notes and carpentry calculations on cracked-paint walls to my mother's mud-encrusted canning jars on the cellar's dirt floor.
Cleaning up the evidence would erase some of my parents' story, my story too. I yearn for the illusion of permanence. I am all too aware that life is ephemeral.
When we lose the people we love, we mourn, cope, and seek comfort in individual ways. Home Body is one way I cope. I memorialize as caretaker, curator, son.
In this realm, if no one remains to mourn or remember those who have passed, the dead truly fade away. Home Body is my protest, my act of defiance. I am shouting from the rooftop, ”My parents were HERE and they were GREAT.”