Coming Home

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My father died on May 2nd, 2013.  He had been battling prostate cancer for several years.  His struggle had intensified pretty significantly in December of 2012.  My brother and I knew then that it was likely his last Christmas with us.  My former classmate and fellow alumna, Rebecca passed away almost seven years ago now.  She was only 34.  She had been vibrant, healthy, gentle & kind.  I hadn’t been in touch with her for a long while and was not able to see her or connect with her directly when I found out she was dying of colon cancer.  She and her husband had just completed construction on their beautiful new home.  They had spent one year in it together while it was finished.

The amount of sadness I have experienced around these losses and certainly others is large.  Of course, the loss of my father has been a huge turning point in my life for me.  I have joined “the dead parents club” as one of my colleagues put it.  It is certainly not a club one seeks membership in, but you inevitably will join at some point.  Along his journey, I ended up making a LOT of trips back to CT to be with him and my brother.  I fled CT years ago and typically dread going back.  The culture is simply not home for me and hasn’t been for quite some time.  I don’t have a place there.  I don’t fit and don’t have a desire to do so.  Vermont is truly my home.

Since my first visit the Marlboro College back on November 11th, 1990, I knew that Vermont, particularly this corner of Southeastern Vermont, was destined to be home.  Flash forward to 1998 when I re-met my future wife, someone whom I knew at Marlboro when we were both students.  She was in Vermont, I was in Boston.  Falling in love was the best excuse to get back to the place where I lost my heart the first time.  Since then, my wife and I have been establishing home here, living in houses or apartments where we could gather our friends together, cook tasty meals, settle in for quiet times after rambunctious days, creating a space which simply exuded that sense of home for all who entered.

That sense of home has been the foundation of our relationship.  As long as we had that strong, grounding place together, we felt we could meet anything no matter how challenging.  It was critical to be able to come home after the long weekends in CT with my father.  Even before then, that home place with our deep, thick community we have here held us when my wife’s mother suddenly passed away 13 years prior.  It has been in these most tragic, sad times that home, both the place and the feeling have mattered most and have been the most present.

As creators and stewards of home, we have longed to be actual home owners.  We have researched, deeply thought about, planned out designs, visited and house sat at so many beautiful and sometimes not so beautiful homes.  We have established a very clear sense of what the physical space of home should be for us.  However, it wasn’t until my father passed away and left us half of the proceeds from the sale of his home that we could even consider becoming home owners.  While excited about having the means to possess a space to truly create our own home, the sadness of the loss of my father was and still is present.

When the perfect home came into our search, we didn’t realize that it was going to be Rebecca’s former home she built with her husband, also a Marlboro alumnus.  But when we visited the home which we had only saw as a listing online, we immediately knew the story of this home.  The love and care that was put into its construction and into the deconstruction of the previous home was instantly palpable. They took elements of the old farm house and integrated them into this new, environmentally more sustainable, home.  There was such attention to detail, the color choices, the light switch plates, the gardens which had been planted by the owner before them.  The spaces were designed to have groups of people over.  There was an instant warmth, and instant welcome.  It was already our home.  Now that it is our home, I live with this ever present sense of joy in finding this beautiful space to continue co-creating home with my wife and loved ones.  I also hold very close the spirits of my father and Rebecca, wishing they could be here to see us.  I also know they are most definitely with us.

Jodi Clark
– Jodi Clark, ’95
Director of Housing and Residential Life

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