Our recent trip away from the homestead was all about returning. We drove up to visit family in Fairbanks. My sister, Beth, works there currently, and my dad and stepmother came up from the lower 48 to visit as well.
Before going to Fairbanks, Dad and Nada went to Barrow for a few days. Beth joined them. Dad interned at the Barrow Presbyterian church in the late ’50s as part of his pastoral training. This first taste of Alaska led to his many years here, including my birth in Fairbanks, and my brother’s birth in Petersburg.
So, on a couple of different levels, this was a homecoming. Dad had not returned to Barrow after his internship other than a brief meeting there a year or two later. Many people still remember him fondly, something I found out when work took me there several years ago. They treated me like a returning son, merely for being related to Dad. Their welcome for him this month far exceeded that.
As for Fairbanks, I’d returned there for the first time about 12 years ago, but this trip allowed me to show my birthplace to Michelle and Aly. The hospital in which I was born is now a bank; the spot of our home then, a log cabin, is now a commercial establishment between owners for the umpteenth time in recent years.
What a great trip! We stayed an extra day and still didn’t do it all, but we visited Denali National Park, enjoyed local museums, ate out, ate in, laughed, visited, and reminisced. We had difficulty tearing ourselves away, but by the time we arrived at the homestead, we knew we’d been away too long. Homecoming, new and old, is sweet—very sweet.