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A summary, and a goodbye | Home Again


Last updated 10/1/2020 at 10:09am

I wrote my first “Home Again” column for the Beacon nearly 15 years ago. Al Hooper was editor then, steeped in journalism. He became my mentor and friend, and I still miss him. I’ve known several other Beacon editors since Al’s time and watched their individual styles shape the Beacon, too.

People ask how I come up with a topic after hundreds of columns. The world is full of topics! Either I know early on what my choice will be and begin typing, or I suffer through several false starts.

In any case, my imperative is simple – write from the heart, finish, and send before I go to bed on deadline day.

I chose “Home Again” as my column title because after a long time away, my life changed, and I returned to my hometown, Edmonds. Home. Again. I wrote about our big old house at Fourth and Dayton with my brother Warren’s enormous Lionel train layout and our grandparents’ apartment.

My father’s boats and Western Auto, and then years of Bradbury’s TV.

I wrote about kids playing on the beach. Fishermen's Pier. The marina. Brackett's Landing. Sights and sounds of ferries and trains. Dogs of Edmonds wearing raincoats. Bright hanging baskets all summer long. The Edmonds Theater, Phoenix Theatre, Driftwood Players, Cascade Symphony and Sno-King Chorale. Saturday markets and Christmas tree lighting with Santa bursting onto the scene.

My home town.

I wrote about the adventures of my remarkable orange cat, Benjamin. (Al wrote about him, too – in the Police Blotter!) Class reunions. Grandbabies. Joy upon joy and sorrow upon sorrow. The Seahawks and hockey, and a writing retreat cottage in the woods.

Cold, muddy rain-soaked soccer games in West Seattle – may they soon resume! I wrote about the book launch over a year ago of the anthology “Writing in Place” by the Edmonds Writing Sisters, my beloved writing group.

We stay close and strong together – while safely distanced.

I wrote about my grandchildren, and when people stopped me (often in QFC) to mention my column, they frequently asked about them. Latest update: West Seattle grandchildren (Abby is 9 and Adam is 11) have set up school in the downstairs family room where they accomplish their off-campus learning, while their parents juggle jobs and kids as tens of thousands of others do.

They’ve added a Siberian Husky puppy to the mix – to the dismay of three cats. In northern Idaho, granddaughter Annika, whom readers recall as a 3-year-old, is a high school senior making college plans, talking about pre-law – a recent shift from veterinary medicine. Her latest dog is a Blue Heeler.

I adore them all – kids, parents, dogs, cats.

I wrote about a mission trip to Kenya, working in the slums for three days, cuddling babies, fixing lunches, walking everywhere between two armed soldiers. I wrote about a marvelous trip to Ireland and Scotland, with several days on the Island of Iona and a convoluted flight home, alone, business class, from Glasgow to Dubai to Seattle, Emirates Air. It took an age, and I loved it. I did it because I could! (Air miles and adrenalin.)

I wrote about people needing each other – that we’re all in this together. About hunger and loneliness and the great divides that separate the fortunate and the unfortunate. About veterans and active duty military and service. There is hope and there are heroes, even with pandemics, elections, injustice, fear and sorrow.

This is my final column, a summary, of sorts.

It seems as if this is the right time – for the Beacon and for me – to end “Home Again.” I don’t know where or what I’ll write next. Somewhere. Something. Dear readers, I’ve loved being in your lives and letting you into mine.

Keep choosing kindness. Seeking justice. Wearing masks. And, soon, voting. Thank you. We really are all just walking each other home.

Love, Joanne

PS: Mocha says the Edmonds Food Bank on Caspers Street needs more cat food!


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