My old home on Madeline Avenue shown on the right hand side of this picture.
The Gentle Call of Home
By Richard James Mabey Jr.
The gentle call of home has been whispering unto my heart this past week or so. For the last month or so, I had been focusing on writing about what it must have been like for my dad, serving in the Seventh Army Air Corps at Hickam Air Field in Hawaii. But, I was stuck. It was as if I was walking through quicksand.
Then, as if my guardian angel spoke to me in my dreams at night, I began dreaming more and more about my old home in Clifton on Madeline Avenue. I spent my early childhood, growing up on Madeline Avenue, from the time I was three years old till I was six. A short time to some people. But for a young child, it is a significant time of life, of growing in self realization.
In February of 2004, on a Saturday morning, my dad asked me if I wanted to take a ride to see our old home, to see the old neighborhood. My dad was fighting cancer at the time. So, we drove down Route 46, from Lincoln Park to Clifton. When we got to our old home on Madeline Avenue, it was rather emotional for both of us. I took some photos of our home. I am so glad that I did.
As we both leaned against the side of my car, Dad and I played the old game of “remember when?” Amazingly, a flood of memories came back to me. And, yes, I did think of my old neighbor Brenda. Brenda and I were practically the same age. I’m just a month older than Brenda. As I looked at the driveway between Brenda’s old home and my old home, I could almost see the ghosts, the shadows, of Brenda and I as little children playing in the back area, in back of that long driveway.
I was a sensitive child. I would often stand by front door, of my old home on Madeline Avenue, as if I had to protect my family from any mean people who might be walking by. The good Lord had given me the gift of a creative imagination.
Dad and I both got a little teary eyed that Dad. After a good hour of walking up and down Madeline Avenue, we leaned against my car one more time and took a good, long look at our old home. Then Dad something very profound “I can almost see Dicky Jim standing in front of that front door.” And I remember looking at that old front door and then looking Dad in the eye.
“I can see little Dicky Jim there too, Dad,” I replied to my beloved father.
Dad then put his hand on my shoulder and said to me, “come on, Dicky Jim, let’s go home.” It would be the last time my Dad would ever call me Dicky Jim.