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The Words of My Father: You Can Always Come Back Home

A Quick Introduction to the Series

In this series we take a trip back in time, back to the 50’s, the 60’s, the years I spent with my father before he passed on, at the age of forty-nine, in 1969. I share his words with all of you, words which had great meaning to me then; words which have great meaning to me now.


My father, the most influential person in my life

My father, the most influential person in my life

Where It Began

The year was 1966. The month was August. My mother and father had just driven me the thirty miles from our home in Tacoma, Washington, to Seattle, where I would be attending college at Seattle University. My first time away from home. My first real taste of freedom. I remember being beyond excited, thrilled to finally be on my own, making my own decisions, shaping my future, meeting new friends, experiencing life at one-hundred miles per hour.

And I remember being scared to death!

As much as teens rail against the rules their parents establish, and as much as teens like to say “I can’t wait to be gone from this house,” the truth, for many of us, is that we are also very nervous about all of that freedom. Being on our own is exhilarating, for sure, but it also means the buck stops here, with us. We are suddenly faced with responsibility and having to face the consequences of our actions.

What if I screw up? That thought was with me that day, in August, 1966. What if the other students think I’m an idiot? What if I’m not smart enough to make it in college? What if I don’t meet new friends? What if I just don’t like it?

I was a nervous wreck, and evidently my dad noticed, because he called me over, put his hand over my shoulder, rustled my hair, as he had done for eighteen years, and said “Bill, you can always come back home. Remember that. You will always have a home, a place where you are loved. That’s important, Bill, so stick it in your pocket and use it whenever you need to.”

The old house, the old home where I learned about life

The old house, the old home where I learned about life

A Change in the Scenario I Never Saw Coming

It happened so quickly. They say life goes by in the blink of an eye, a sentiment most of the elderly will certainly agree with, but how many twenty-year old college students would make that statement? One day he was with me, the father who had meant so much to me, and the next day gone, three days shy of his fiftieth birthday, massive heart attack, his body failing him, a cruel joke of genetics, unknown, no warning, my foundation torn down, plowed under, never to be seen again.

My mother never really recovered from his death. My sister and her family moved to North Dakota, a new home in a new area. I stayed at “home” after graduation, helping with the bills, keeping the “home” in working condition, stoking the fires, mowing the grass, doing small repairs, the mundane actions done and done again, for so many years, keeping the exterior of that “home” shiny and bright, a message to all who passed that happiness resides here, all is well, no worries whatsoever.

But it was a lie! That house was no longer my home. The heart and soul of it had died. Family celebrations trickled to nothingness and then ceased altogether. The laughter, which once reverberated throughout the structure, was no longer. The music, sung in three-part harmony, went the way of Buddy Holly, worn-out recordings, scratches in the vinyl, eventually the tune lost.

My mother remarried. I moved out, on my own, in search of . . . I did not know at the time, but restlessness had embraced me and set me on a path I was blind to see.

Trying to Recapture the Magic

I tried. I really did. I partied hard, in search of the gaiety. I, with manic intent, took on challenges, climbed peaks, pushed my body to limits, and always, on quiet nights, alone, home would creep back into my consciousness, that which was lost, and restlessness, knowing it must still be out there, if only I could find it, recreate it, gain strength from it.

I married. I strung up Christmas lights, as my father once had. I decked the halls with balls and holly. I sang, perhaps too loudly at times. I tended to a new yard, to new chores, embraced the mundane of the American Dream, and I failed. The dream could not be replicated. The vision I had, of home, had died on a cold January night, and all the scrambling I could muster could not replace that which had been lost.

I partied harder. I sang louder. I married again. I played it all over in my head, searching for the missing pieces, putting the jigsaw puzzle of my life together, then together again, and again, but always there were gaps, the puzzle never finding clarity, never coming into focus.

Family members of long ago died. All physical manifestations of that old home, from so long ago, were gone. All that remained was a man named Bill.

“Bill, you can always come back home.”

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The Dawning

The dawning came on a bitterly-cold night, in Anchorage, Alaska, a broken man of fifty-eight, completely lost in a wilderness of my own making, unable to muster up the desire, or the strength, to continue. A fallen bottle at his side, joining others, his thoughts arising from the haze for just a moment, where it came from I will never know, but there it was, the answer all along.

The missing pieces to a thirty-plus year search were within me all along.

Home resided within me.

My father was inside of me. My mother, my sister, my distant relatives, all inside of me. I was the manifestation of them all. I was the keeper of the treasure, the only one with the key to the lock. I had it all along but thought the key, and everything it safeguarded, was six feet under and stone-cold dead.

But I was wrong.

Decorations are not needed. Replications of memories are not needed. A frantic search for that which no longer exists was not needed. All that was needed was a moment of clarity, and the ability to remember words spoken long ago.

“Bill, you can always come back home.”

My home is always with me

My home is always with me

Today It Guides Me

I finally found it, deep inside, that feeling of peace, that realization that all is well and all will be well, as long as I embrace those lessons taught to a young boy so long ago. Love is as vital to my survival as is blood and bone and tissue. Without a willingness to love others and love myself, I will perish. Without a willingness to follow the instructions of parents long ago, instructions which spoke of respect and compassion and empathy, I will always fall short of the goal.

I can hear their words today, and I smile. I can feel my dad, ruffling my hair, and warmth spreads throughout me. I do not try to replicate anything these days, but rather simply live a life of love, and in so doing I have arrived, once more . . .

At home!

For wherever I am . . .

I am home!

2021 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 05, 2021:

Genna, my friend, it is always good to hear from you. I hope this finds you well. Thank you for taking the time to share part of your experience with me. May you always find happiness and peace of mind.

Happy 4th to you, my friend!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 05, 2021:

Thank you Denise! It took me a long time to embrace it, but I'm there now and I love it.

Blessings always


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 05, 2021:

Good for you, Bobbi! You and I may not have that many years remaining, but the time we have left will be spent smiling and enjoying life, as it was meant to be. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. I appreciate you!

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on July 04, 2021:

Hi Bill...

I remember vividly the day I was driven to college by Mum and Dad, with my clothing, record player (a must have), my records and assorted sundries filling the back of the station wagon. I was excited and terrified at the same time with the prospect of leaving the only home I ever knew. It was the love I felt I was leaving behind.

It was such a sad time losing your beloved father and so unexpectedly. Home is definitely where the heart is...nothing can replace that. When I lost my Mum and Dad within a year of each other, I clung to certain "things" they left behind. Doesn't work. I think we try to carry it around with us until the day we learn to carry it our hearts.

Your beautiful and poignant story is inspirational, my friend. Thank you! Hugs, and Happy 4th! :-)

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on July 04, 2021:

That's an awesome lesson if only we learn it and embrace it. I felt I was right there with you! Powerful words.



Barbara Purvis Hunter from Florida on July 03, 2021:


You made me cry for that little boy in a man's body searching to find the answers to life. I believe we have more than one home in life--I now have a home with my kitty cat Baby.

Once my home was a meeting place of my sisters, my baby nephews and my husbands parents as well as mine. So much life goes on and goes away as the years pass. My last aunt died 5 years ago and now I really feel the years flying by. However, I grab the tail of joy and hang on--nothing is taking my smile, laughter and joy away while I have a mine. And, I don't claim to be sane--that would be boring.

You have a home here on HubPages because you are loved by all.

Your Hub Friend,

Bobbi Purvis

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 03, 2021:

Thank you, John! For a long time, I felt cheated that my dad died so young. Now I realize he gave me gifts that lasted my entire lifetime, and I should celebrate those gifts rather than concentrate on the loss.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on July 02, 2021:

This is a touching piece of writing, Bill. Your father was taken much too soon but he managed to instill a lot of wisdom and life-lessons in you in his short time. Yes, our true home is in us. As a song by Paul Young says: “Wherever I lay my hat - that’s my home.”

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 02, 2021:

Wow, Audrey! I am so happy to read your words. If in any way I have helped you, I am grateful beyond words. Thank you for sharing that with me.



Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on July 02, 2021:

Your story touched me deeply. The mystery door, which has remained closed to me for so many years has opened. Now, I see, now I understand. "Home is indeed where the heart is."

I am home. What a revelation! I can stop searching now. Wherever my path leads me...I am safe. You have changed my life by sharing this story.

Thank you, Bill.



Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 02, 2021:

Thanks so much, Zulma! At peace I am, and I'm grateful for your friendship. Gorgeous it will be, near eighty, perfect summer weather.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 02, 2021:

Bill, if he were alive, he would say he lived life to the fullest, did not get cheated, and his death is just the way it goes sometimes. You win some, you lose some, and we all die.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 02, 2021:

MG, the older I get, the more nostalgic I become. I think that is the providence of the old, don't you? lol Thank you for your kind words, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 02, 2021:

Thank you Alyssa. I'm happy that you had such a relationship with your grandparents. That is a special thing to teach your son. I hope he's listening to you.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 02, 2021:

They are for sure, Peggy! Thank you for reading it. I'm happy you enjoyed it.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 02, 2021:

Misbah, thank you for your very kind words. I still miss him, my father. He had that much of an influence on me that after fifty years I still miss him. :) Be well soon, my friend, and blessings always.

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on July 02, 2021:

Hey, Bill.

This was a beautiful tribute to your Dad. I'm glad you were finally able to make peace with yourself and find the home you've been searching for.

Have a gorgeous day.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on July 02, 2021:

Extremely well written, Bill. Beautiful words that show what a great influence your father had on you. Such a shame that he was taken so soon, but I imagine he packed a lot of life into those 49 years. And he clearly taught his son a few lessons about life.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on July 01, 2021:

This is a very nostalgic post Bill, the more you read the more you like it. This gives a great insight into your years which have gone away To have those memories, I think is something very precious. More precious because you have the ability to put it on paper and hundreds of people can read and take delight.

Alyssa from Ohio on July 01, 2021:

Oh Bill.. this is such a bittersweet, heartwarming story. Your dad sounds like a remarkable person and what a gift for you to share this wisdom with us. Home to me was always my grandparents' house and when I talk with my son about those loved ones of ours who've passed, I tell him the same thing you've shared with us here: they live on through us, through our memories, our traditions, through our interactions with others, and in our actions as we navigate our own lives. This was a wonderful read.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 01, 2021:

This article about your struggles after your father died was so heartfelt that it was almost palpable. I am glad that you finally realized that he, and all those who were important in your life, are still a part of you.

Misbah Sheikh from — This Existence Is Only an Illusion on July 01, 2021:

Mr. Bill, this was heartfelt. I can feel the deep emotions in your words.I always enjoy and value everything you write about your father. I really like how you praise your father. May his soul rest in Peace, Amen!

Sir, I respect you a lot

I am late in responding to this article because I am suffering from COVID. Please remember me in your prayers. Stay safe and healthy

Blessings always

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 01, 2021:

Lora, you said it perfectly and beautifully. Thank you for sharing your feelings in these lovely words. Peace be with you, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 01, 2021:

I am home, Brenda! Thank you my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 01, 2021:

Sha, that was a very sweet. I do think that Bev is my reward for finally getting my shit together. lol And I'm not giving her back to the gods in charge of such matters. She's a keeper, and Dad didn't raise a fool.

Love, dear friend! Have a great 4th.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 01, 2021:

You are very welcome, Linda. Thanks for reading my accounting. I hope you are doing well now that the heat has left us all.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 01, 2021:

Thank you Devika! As the story says, I am at home, inside of myself, and they are still with me in spirit.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 01, 2021:

Thank you Amara, and I hope you are at peace as well.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 01, 2021:

Thank you for sharing that, EK! I hope you are safe and healthy as well, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 01, 2021:

Thank you Pamela! For sure, life is good and yes, I am at peace now. Christmas Eve? What a terrible day to die! My goodness!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 01, 2021:

MizB, I am still amazed that I'm the only one left standing from the old family. Kind of sad, still, to think about. How did I make it and they didn't? Even my entire biological family has passed on.

Lora Hollings on June 30, 2021:

What beautiful writing, Bill. I think you have captured the essence of life and what so many of us our searching for- a feeling that we are home at last deep down in our souls! So many of those that I love are gone now and it often feels like such a lonely existence. But, I think the answer is more simple than we realize. We have to reach out to others and find the love there that we so desperately need. There is a richness in life when we respond with love to those who have need of it just as much as we do. And we can’t be afraid to be ourselves. “To thine own self be true.” Your writing resonates with love and the insight that can help us all find inner peace.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on June 30, 2021:


This story is so touching.

I love the message in it & I'm glad yo know you finally survived your struggle.

You are home.

Great write.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on June 30, 2021:

OMG, Bill! This brought tears to my eyes. Tears of sadness for the despair you felt. Tears for the love and strength you thought you had lost. Tears of joy for the day realization came to you.

As I was listening to the song by Jason Mraz, I wrote down these powerful words: "You will always get back home." Then I found those very profound words in this essay when you came to that realization.

These words of yours also affected me greatly: "Love myself." That was the key to you finding peace and the bootstraps that pulled you out of what could very well have been an early grave. Your dad was shouting. His death was through no fault of his own, but yours would have been.

And that would have been unacceptable.

You've lived the life of Riley and you've lived the life of the lonely and lost. Your dad didn't want that for you. He and your mom saved you from that when they adopted a blind, abandoned infant. They didn't have much, but they had the love that you needed and nothing would have stopped them from adopting you. I know that from deep in my soul.

I think your dad led you to Bev once you decided you wanted to live. He wanted you to live with love because you depend on it and you have so much of it to give.

And Bev needed you. It wasn't by happenstance that you met in a U-Haul store. You both needed someone to haul you back to life.

And you've done that for each other.

Your dad's love is alive and well.

And he's very proud.

Now he can rest in peace.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on June 30, 2021:

It sounds like your father was a very inspiring person, Bill. Thank you for sharing his words and his importance in your life.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 30, 2021:

Rodric, that brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for the lovely, heartfelt, loving message.

Rodric Anthony Johnson from Surprise, Arizona on June 30, 2021:

Your words helped me enjoy my home, the home from my past in my present home without them having to be the same. After reading this, I spoke to my children about what home means to them. After they described their views, I told them that I learned from you that home is wherever they are. One of my daughters, Sariah, has a full academic scholarship to the University of Arizona. I wanted her to know that home is where she is and she can experience it any time she needs while she is away. Thanks for this message, Bill. It helps me.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on June 30, 2021:

Wow! Bill this is interesting and to know that you you couldn't go back to the family home is sad. Your tribute to your father is most thoughtful.

Amara from Pakistan on June 30, 2021:

Its a touchy story of your life Bill. I am glad to know that you finally found peace in your life.

God bless you dear.

EK Jadoon from Abbottabad Pakistan on June 30, 2021:

Hi Bill...

I am the only daughter of my father and he loves me a lot. Undoubtedly, your father was a great man, that's why you are still thinking of him. May his soul rest in peace. In our culture, daughters are very close to their fathers.

Stay safe and healthy...

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on June 30, 2021:

This is such a touching article about your life, Bill. My husband was lost for quite a while after his father died also. The death was not quite as sudden as your fathers was, but he was diagnosed with cancer, dying on Christmas Eve less than 3 months later.

I am so glad you are at peace now. You have a good life with Bev, and that is wonderful. I appreciate you writing the story of your life, and I enjoyed reading your article.

So now, overall, life is good. Stay safe and healthy!

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on June 30, 2021:

I can't help but shed a tear because you really struck a cord with me, especially when you wrote: "Family members of long ago died. All physical manifestations of that old home, from so long ago, were gone." The person who said "you can't go back home" was right, definitely in my life. You can't go back to that which was, you can only create a new home.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 30, 2021:

Thank you Louise! I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on June 30, 2021:

That's really lovely hearing about your past and your father, Bill. Really nice story.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 30, 2021:

It's an interesting dynamic, McKenna, how one person can mean so much to the family unit. Thank you for sharing your experience. I saw the same thing with my mother when she started dating.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 30, 2021:

Thank you so much, Chitrangada Sharan! I'm so glad you enjoyed my memories. Blessings to you always, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 30, 2021:

God bless you, Manatita, and thank you. No, not an easy path, but the path I had to walk in order to learn and grow. Blessings to you always!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 30, 2021:

Marlene, thank you! Good or bad, home is always with us. It's what we learn from the experiences which define us going forward, or so it seems to me.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 30, 2021:

Mr. Happy, I didn't see Joplin either, and that's a shame. We was a comet which burned out far too soon. Thank you my friend. All the best to you as well.

McKenna Meyers on June 30, 2021:

Bill, this is such a powerful tribute to your father. I think so many of us wonder if our lives make an impact and this sure proves that his did. I didn't have a close relationship with my dad like you did. However, I connect to what can happen to a family when the patriarch dies. When my dad passed, my mom started dated a guy that none of us liked. She became obsessed with him and was no longer the woman we had known. Our family was gone. But, yes, the memories live within me and the values that they taught us are the core of my being.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on June 30, 2021:

This is so heart touching, Bill! I can imagine the emotions, you must be having, while writing this. I hope you feel lighter.

That old home looks so nice, but I agree that you carry the memories of your dear father inside your heart. And, perhaps your father meant this only, when he said, that you can always come back home.

Thank you for sharing your precious memories with us. Have a blessed day.

manatita44 from london on June 30, 2021:

Tender indeed and very beautiful too! I have used your name from time to time, in a positive way, of course, to show how we not only sink in the abysmal abyss, but come back from it, learning invaluable life-lessons along the way. This ain't any easy path.

A wonderful tale, Bro. God bless you and God bless your parents and current family.

Marlene Bertrand from USA on June 30, 2021:

This is such a tender story. It made my heart hurt.

When you shared about your father's heart, it brought back the memory of my dad's passing, the same as your dad's.

Your dad was a wise man. Yes. You can always go back home. Still, I grew up thinking I could never go back home. I was thinking in the literal sense. But, as you share your story, I realize, you can go back home. In fact, home is in the memories and the times, good and bad, that we shared at home, with the people we love.

Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on June 30, 2021:

"The year was 1966. The month was August." - The third sentence for me was not what You wrote. It was: "And Janis Joplin was singing somewhere ... I didn't get to see her." Ya ... it's true.

"I do not try to replicate anything these days" - That's good, I'd say. I stropped celebrating my birthday when I realized that every year I had to out-do the previous year's party. So, from regular parties, to full out restaurants and bars rented out, live bands, champagne bottles and drugs of all sorts ... there's just no limit, other than death. It got boring because it became a race in extravagance, with myself. Haha!!

Can't replicate things and it's not good to get attached to habits either. Be that parties, or fishing, or anything else. Any habit can become an addiction if we indulge in it.

Thank You for the piece of writing. All the best!

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