Jen Jeffrey: There’s No Place Like Home

Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - by Jen Jeffrey
Jen Jeffrey
Jen Jeffrey

When Bob Newhart played a psychologist in the 1970s sitcom “The Bob Newhart Show” and then as innkeeper Dick Loudon in the 1980s sitcom “Newhart”; the last episode of Newhart made us believe the entire 80s series was illusory. The wife in the 1970s series played by Suzanne Pleshette suddenly awoke next to “Bob” as he shared with her that he had a strange dream.

This is the only way I can explain the surreal feelings that I had when I came back to Chattanooga for a visit.

It was too soon to come back for me, but I had work to do and I did want to see my youngest son and his family. Having the twins and Landon and Kylee up for a visit last weekend helped me not miss my family so much but, honestly, I loved being on the farm and I didn’t want to leave even for a weekend.

Most of my time since getting married has been spent unpacking or catching up on work or organizing the house. Jason lived on the farm as a fairly neat bachelor and the house was in order to the naked eye, but after moving in my guess is that he had not once cleaned the ceiling fans since he moved in or dusted the baseboards or cleaned the ‘extra’ things that even most cleaning agencies or bachelors don’t do – but a ‘wife’ does, and I was quite the busy bee.

Still a newlywed, I wasn’t through ‘setting up camp’ nor feeling acclimated in my new home and new town just yet and it was still new to me. I needed to go to Chattanooga for work and I had hoped to see my youngest son, but he was working and my time in Chattanooga was short.

Before heading out on my trip, I felt myself stalling. I had not packed. I had not made plans. I had no excitement in going.

In fact, as Jason and I talked about me leaving he would say, “Gosh, it feels like you are going back home to stay…” and that was exactly how I felt. I wasn’t ready to leave my husband even for a couple of days. I did want to see Mama and I know that she had missed me, but my new life had just begun and it really started feeling like it was all just a dream.

I think because Jason’s and my courtship involved us being together for a few days or a week at a time, only for me to return home, caused this unnerving feeling.

As life takes its many turns there is always the transition phase (no matter how wonderful it may be) and it is somewhat foreign.

When I first became single after an 11-year marriage being single was foreign to me. I didn’t know how to be single. When I remarried after being single for five years – even though it felt right, it was still new and I had a lot to get used to. It takes time to develop a comfort-zone in a new setting and the easiest way to do that is to slowly accept and embrace the new. As a single person it was not what I wanted, but I accepted it and I embraced that time in my life and eventually, I saw the good in it.

I learned to be single and I learned to create my own identity and to create a life for myself which was dependent on nobody else but me. That was a very important time in my life and it was important before God would bring me my true soul mate.

Even as I made a life for myself and I was already happy before Jason and I found each other, I cannot imagine my life without him and I believe I will always feel my heart swell and my eyes water when I think of how much I love him.

I had finished an assignment for work early on Friday morning, but I knew Jason would be home at lunch to meet with Matt of WK&T Communications to discuss the fiber optics installation that I had hinted to him about (I missed my EPB) and I thought I would wait to leave after he went back to work.

After the representative left and Jason decided to go with the fiber optics for faster Internet speed, we said our goodbyes and I went to pack my Army backpack that my son Andrew gave to me. That was all I needed.

When I would pack to go see Jason, I had several outfits ‘to impress’, all my make-up and hair products and about five-10 pairs of shoes. This time, all I needed was to have a change of clothes for Saturday and traveling clothes for Sunday morning.

As I headed out, I put in my favorite “As Isaac” CD to sing along with and realized ‘they’ had been in my Jeep since I moved. I had missed them. I packed two cell phones that I promised to bring to Meleah, the manager of the group, for a donation to an upcoming mission trip and I would be glad to see her.

After singing with my favorite group, I hit Nashville traffic and felt it was time for a little classical to soothe me. I put in my Jackie Evancho CD and listened to her sweet, angelic voice. When she began singing my favorite song, “Nessun dorma” I tried to sing along. I used to be able to sing very high notes but I have been so out of practice.

Of course, the song is in another language and it is on my bucket list to learn the words, but until then I have a few of the words memorized where the notes are held out longer at the end of a verse. Basically, I will sing, “La la da da da la la-a-a …  di speranza” and then I will finish the ending forte with the only words I really know, “All'alba vincerò! Vincerò! Vincerò!”

While Nashville traffic is at 10-mile-per-hour speed, fellow travelers would see me with my mouth open wide and jaw dropped, trying to hit the high notes. 

When I drove through Monteagle Mountain, the familiarity spoke to my senses and I had this strange feeling of being back home… but it wasn’t home. Home is with Jason. Home is on Whisper Run Farm in Kentucky.

My wedded bliss felt as if it were just a dream that came to an abrupt end.

Here I was traveling back from ‘a visit’ to Jason’s and now I was going ‘back home’ to Mama’s house to sleep in a single bed, listening to the interstate traffic and watching the Waltons. I knew that I had to get a hold of my feelings as I felt tears welling up in my eyes. I didn’t want Mama to feel that I dreaded my visit or that I didn’t want to see her. That wasn’t it at all.

When I pulled in the driveway, Mama was outside waiting. I told her to be ready to go out to eat and we would have dinner together. I didn’t want her to treat me as company and prepare special meals or have to get groceries she would not usually have.

We had a nice dinner and then went back to the house. I set my backpack down and plopped down in the same recliner I used to sit in and Mama turned on the television to the Waltons.

That was when it really felt strange - strange because it felt so normal. It felt as though I had never left and as though I were not married. I did not have a husband and I did not live on a farm. I shared with Mama how I felt and she understood. I knew that I would not stop feeling unsteady until I drove back to the country to my Kentucky home. That night I woke at 3 a.m. and Jason wasn’t beside me. I was glad to have the feeling that ‘he was missing’, because I was afraid of his being ‘just a dream’ was becoming real.

Knowing that my son couldn’t make plans with me, I made the whole Saturday for Mama. I wanted to make her feel special so I took her to get a pedicure and shopping to get a few new tops.

Mama walked with me through the mall, but she is not used to walking far distances and she grew tired and needed to rest. She told me she didn’t have to pick out anything, that she trusted me to get it and she would sit and wait on me. I had her sit in a chair outside of Dillard’s and I went in the store. In seven minutes I had found, purchased and came out with three new tops for her. I barely gave her time to make a butt-print in the chair. That’s how I shop – mission minded. I know what I need to get and I get it and get out of there.

Of course, when one hurries, one is apt to be forgetful.

When we pulled in the driveway I realized I did not have my cell phone. Mama and I headed back to the mall and I was certain I left it at the register and told Mama to just stay in the car. When the sales clerk told me my phone was not there I hoped it had fallen under the seat in the car and maybe if I called it, I would find it there.

I fast-walked back to my Jeep… but I passed it up. When I found myself in a sea of black Jeeps and SUV’s I heard a muffled voice call out, “Jenny!” I looked in one direction, but didn’t see my Jeep. Then I heard the voice again, “Jen-n-n-n-ny!” and I saw my sweet Mama waving me back to shore. She got a good laugh out of that.

I told her my phone was not at the mall, so I asked her to call it from her cell phone. She did and when we didn’t hear it ringing in the car, I wanted to know if it was perhaps left at the nail salon. Mama started to hang up and I said, “No, let it keep ringing … see if anyone answers it – it could be at the salon.” She did, but after several rings it went to voicemail. I got tickled when she started to leave a message.

Just then, my phone rang as I was headed back to the nail salon. Mama answered it for me and it was a girl at the salon telling us they had my phone. Mama let them know we were on our way to get it.

After I retrieved my phone and got back in the car, I began laughing and Mama asked what was so funny. I told her to call my phone again.

When she called my phone, she could hear my new ring tone with the trumpet blasting the Kentucky Derby’s “Call to Post”.

I said, “Can you imagine what all the ladies in the salon were thinking when all of a sudden they heard that??”

Mama and I chuckled all the way home. We had a good time eating out, quickly shopping and laughing.

On Sunday morning, I packed much quicker than I had before. I was ready to head back “home”. On my way, I met with my girlfriend Mary who was able to swing some time to see me and we enjoyed brunch together before I traveled the long four-hour trip. I know I said it was just a short three hours and 40 minutes in my last article but that was to get my children to come see me. It felt much further now and I couldn’t drive fast enough to see the flat pastures of Kentucky!

I am not one to speed – ever, but I found myself on a Sunday drive with hardly any traffic going 10 miles faster than usual. I developed a terrible headache that worsened as time went on, but nothing felt any better than pulling in my driveway at my house in my hometown.

I am sure my next trip to Chattanooga will be more exciting for me and I will be ready to come back for a visit, but right now… there is no place like HOME.

jen@jenjeffrey.com



Chattanooga Friends 6th Annual "Dunked" Fundraiser On Sept. 19 To Benefit Local Nonprofits

Chattanooga Friends is presenting Dunked for its sixth consecutive year to benefit four local nonprofits. The event will be held on Friday, Sept. 18 at Miller Plaza from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Dunked involves recruiting well-known Chattanoogans to take the plunge for a good cause.  This year, Dunked benefits Siskin Children’s Institute, Northside Neighborhood House, Boys & ... (click for more)

Crack Down On Improper Turns In Glenwood Avenue Area

The Dalton Police Department and also the city’s Public Works Department have been receiving numerous complaints of drivers making improper turns near the Taco Bell and Bi-Lo shopping center on Glenwood Avenue. Crash statistics compiled by the DPD Traffic Unit show that there have been 15 crashes in the area since January with minor injuries reported. A recent redesign of the ... (click for more)

Boy, 4, Struck By Vehicle Near Tunnel Boulevard

A four-year-old boy was struck by a vehicle near Tunnel Boulevard on Saturday afternoon. A t approximately 4:20 p.m.,  the Chattanooga Police Department responded to 3400 Through St. on a c hild struck by a vehicle.  T he victim was conscious when officers arrived. He was transported to a local hospital. I nvestigators are continuing to compile ... (click for more)

Assessor Bennett, Former Assessor Ramsey In Jetton Camp For Assessor Of Property

Assessor of Property Bill Bennett and former Assessor Claude Ramsey recommended Sterling Jetton as the next assessor at a breakfast fundraiser at Wally's Restaurant in East Ridge on Saturday morning. Mr. Jetton, who spent 27 years in the assessor's office, is running against County Commissioner Marty Haynes in the March 1 Republican primary. Noting the political heavyweights ... (click for more)

DWT Is DUI

A routine narrative of a DUI arrest report goes something like this:   The defendant was operating a motor vehicle in the 00 block of sonsoroad. The driver was weaving back and forth across the marked roadway. The defendant drove through a stop sign. Was stopped at an intersection despite the traffic light was green. Entered the lane of another vehicle and caused a ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: What Voters Think

There are over 9,000 students who attend Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn., which – in an effort to be relative -- is just a touch smaller than our UT-Chattanooga. What makes Quinnipiac unique is that it is home of The Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, which produces what’s called the “Q Poll” because hardly anybody knows how to pronounce “Kwin-uh-pe-ack.” The Q ... (click for more)