A few days ago I wrote about the long, cold winter our family has endured.

This week new life has erupted.

Daffodils are budding, and the early ones are dancing in the breeze.

"And then my heart with pleasure fills/and dances with the daffodils."

“And then my heart with pleasure fills/And dances with the daffodils.” Wordsworth



This beautiful passage from the second chapter of the Song of Solomon

speaks for us:

“Arise, my love, my fair one,
    and come away;
11 for now the winter is past,
    the rain is over and gone.
12 The flowers appear on the earth;
    the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
    is heard in our land.


Stuart and I are hearing the voice of the turtledove

in two places — the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia where he was born

(where we have now lived for a decade)

and Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where I was born.

In January we visited the place, Warwick Woodlands, on the campus of Moravian Manor, that called us to move.

In February we made the commitment, and now

I am going home.

Eight times in my life my permanent state address changed.

Eleven times I moved addresses in the same place.

Six times we left our permanent address for lengthy visits

(sabbaticals, study abroad, granny nanny adventures)

in other places.

I don’t expect to move again.

I expect to plant myself here.

I am going home.

Photo by Jack Rutt

Our new home is located in Warwick Woodlands in the retirement community of Moravian Manor, Lititz, PA. We will live in the white unit. Friends Jack and Gloria live in the grey one. Photo by Jack Rutt.


But first, theres so much to do in

the Shenandoah Valley!

Packing and sorting, selling and giving away, arranging, coordinating.

Grieving the going and the sweet friends left behind.

When I was eleven years old my family moved from Manheim to Lititz, PA.

A distance of seven miles.

My classmates threw a party and sang the classic parting song —Red River Valley —

to me.

 Stevie Nicks sings it country style here.

When we go home, we are also leaving home.

What valleys have you left, literal or metaphorical, in your life?

Where are you heading now? Have any advice to offer those of us in transition?

Shirley Showalter


  1. Elfrieda Schroeder on March 16, 2021 at 3:51 pm

    Going home…that sounds wonderful. At the same time the process…the packing, the farewells, the unpacking, missing old friends, making new ones…until you can finally embrace your new abode fully and with abandon. We did it in 2008. Moved back to the “Red River Valley” (that is Manitoba, where that song describes this place). I love that song and sang along whole heartedly! We too have moved many times and hope to never do it again! We are anticipating our Covid shot at the end of March and looking forward to hugging our grandchildren again and being together with them all at the lake in early July! Your new place looks lovely!

    • Shirley Showalter on March 16, 2021 at 5:15 pm

      I didn’t know the Red River Valley was so huge — from Minnesota, North Dakota, on up to Winnipeg. Thanks for claiming the name.

      I am so glad you are getting to hug your grandchildren again. We are looking forward to a big Hershey gathering in June also. We have had both shots and are filled with hope.

      Thanks for starting the conversation, Elfrieda.

  2. Marlena on March 16, 2021 at 4:20 pm

    “When we go home, we are also leaving home.” This is so true. I’ve been at home on three continents and have moved more times than I’ve ever counted. The last one was this past October, when Ed and I sold our Tucson winter home and became full-time Oregonians.

    I’ve noticed that moving feels more painful than it used to. During most of my life, my focus was always forward – to all of the blessings that awaited me in my new home. When we drove out of our village on the northwest end of Tucson last October, a deep sadness enveloped me. But it is mostly gone, now that I am once again excited about the new home Ed and I are building on the coast of Oregon, in a tiny village called Yachats.

    For me, the lesson really us to constantly look forward to the blessings that await me in my next new home (and finally in the last one!), while filled with gratitude for the home I’ve left behind.

    So here’s to the grand adventure that awaits you, dear Shirley! And may each item you pack or give away remind you of the blessed years you and Stuart spent together in the Shenandoah Valley.

    Wishing you strength, good health and so, so much happiness!

    • Shirley Showalter on March 16, 2021 at 5:19 pm

      Your words are welcome and wise, Marlena. Thank you for the well wishes. You know whereof you speak. I think the direction we are headed begins to change at about age 70. Emily Dickinson didn’t live that long, but she understood!

      Because I could not stop for Death – (479)
      Because I could not stop for Death –
      He kindly stopped for me –
      The Carriage held but just Ourselves –
      And Immortality.

      We slowly drove – He knew no haste
      And I had put away
      My labor and my leisure too,
      For His Civility –

      We passed the School, where Children strove
      At Recess – in the Ring –
      We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain –
      We passed the Setting Sun –

      Or rather – He passed Us –
      The Dews drew quivering and Chill –
      For only Gossamer, my Gown –
      My Tippet – only Tulle –

      We paused before a House that seemed
      A Swelling of the Ground –
      The Roof was scarcely visible –
      The Cornice – in the Ground –

      Since then – ’tis Centuries – and yet
      Feels shorter than the Day
      I first surmised the Horses’ Heads
      Were toward Eternity –

  3. June Vander-Hoek on March 16, 2021 at 4:38 pm

    I left the Frazer Valley and moved the the Silver Creek Valley. Being in Silver Creek was a real Valley, however saying that, I came to accept Christ after I moved out of that Valley.
    I have extended family in Lititz, they live on Alspaugh Lane.

    • Shirley Showalter on March 16, 2021 at 5:44 pm

      June, you have two valleys in your background. Sounds like moving led you to higher ground spiritually.

      It’s a small world when we can discover connections online to relatives living in one small town. Hope they enjoy Lititz as much as we hope to.

  4. Karen R. Owens on March 16, 2021 at 4:49 pm

    I cried and cried with the knowing of who and what I would leave behind in Burlington County, New Jersey, in 2002. I grew to love who and what our family of four found in Chester County, Pennsylvania, where my husband and I still live. Here, I mourned the departure of one son and then the other for college, three years apart. I mourned the loss of each of my parents, three years apart. Each of our sons is now happily married, and we’re expecting our first grandchild in June.

    • Shirley Showalter on March 16, 2021 at 5:48 pm

      You have a tender heart, Karen, I can tell. You know how to grieve and how to rejoice. May all of those hills and valleys in your life become gifts that you have to give that new grandchild! I am thinking of readers like you as I complete my next project. I’ll be writing about that one next time. Blessings.

  5. Joan Z. Rough on March 16, 2021 at 5:05 pm

    I think it’s only natural that moving gets harder as we grow older. I have moved so many times in my lifetime that I can’t even remember how many times. But I know it goes beyond counting to 10. We had planned on moving to a retirement community in North Carolina near our daughter a few years ago, but we’ve decided this is the place for us. We have lived here in Charlottesville over thirty years though in 4 different homes and neighborhoods. So we’ll stay put here, enjoying old friends, our medical teams, and enjoy all the things we’d miss if we moved!

    Good luck to you in your move. I’m sure you’ll find great comfort “Going Home.”

    • Shirley Showalter on March 16, 2021 at 5:51 pm

      Two paths converged in the woods, and you took the other one, Joan. I respect your decision and understand it also. You have roots that run deep. I hope when the Virginia Festival of the Book goes live again that I can come visit you after our move. Thank you for the good thoughts and for all the good times in Charlottesville and elsewhere.

      • Joan Z Rough on March 16, 2021 at 9:25 pm

        Oh, I do want you come and visit for the book fest or for any other thing that brings you to C’ville!

  6. Laurie Buchanan on March 16, 2021 at 5:39 pm

    Shirley —

    When Len and I moved to Boise seven years ago, it felt like coming home, even though neither of us had ever lived here.

    I’m happy for you to be moving home.

    But I also know how hard it was departing Crystal Lake. Not only leaving the many friends we’d made, but as you said, the “packing and sorting, selling and giving away, arranging, coordinating.”

    I found it an excellent opportunity to lighten our load. Oh, the freedom in not lugging around that weight.

    I’m excited for you and Stuart!

    • Shirley Showalter on March 16, 2021 at 5:53 pm

      Thank you, Laurie. Your minimalist lifestyle and your care in selecting your new home have deeply inspired me. When I am focused too long on what I leave behind, I will remember your sentence: “Oh, the freedom in not lugging around that weight.” Thanks for the good wishes.

  7. Marian Beaman on March 16, 2021 at 6:28 pm

    As I read your post, a few lines from my Amazon review of BLUSH came to mind:
    “Shirley’s story sings because it rings true. And, yes, Shirley, you did [will] go home again. The Oh! at the center of your story leads readers to a fresh discovery of home, where one’s heart is nourished and where, as T. S. Eliot puts it “arrive where we started / And know the place for the very first time.”

    So you are circling back to where you began, a wonderful thing. You will be close to Kate’s family, and close enough to Anthony’s, a very good thing. We are planted here in Florida because our children and grandchildren reside here. Home IS where the heart is!

    No particular advice except to say this: You are moving at the right time. Cliff and I have said to each other since we moved to Spindletree Way over 4 years ago: “It’s a good thing we moved when we did, in our mid-seventies. We have both been healthy, thank God, but energy diminishes with age. And that’s a fact – and not from the Library of Congress either. 🙂

    Congratulations and more Jubilacion to come!
    You may want to check out our moving experience recorded on my blog. Here’s a start: https://marianbeaman.com/2016/05/25/mouse-moves-house-and-so-do-we/ Or, just type “moving” into my blog’s search box.

    So happy for you! 🙂

    • Shirley Showalter on March 16, 2021 at 6:45 pm

      Marian, thanks for the invitation to visit (or revisit your post about moving to a smaller space. I love the pictures you post of the waterway so close to your new house. And I loved being reminded of Sharon Clymer Landis’s inspirational meditation on moving as a spiritual practice.

      Guess what? All of us are moving within 30 days of each other. Our moving date is May 21, and Kate and Nik will move to Lancaster early in June.

      Still hope to visit you in Jacksonville sometime. And the next time you come to Lancaster, look us up!

      • Marian Beaman on March 16, 2021 at 9:54 pm

        Thank you, Shirley. The invitation to our home still stands.

        I’m sure there’ll be a happy homecoming: Your mother, siblings, and Lancaster friends must be overjoyed!

  8. Kathleen Pooler on March 16, 2021 at 6:30 pm

    Such a bittersweet transition, Shirley. It’s never easy to leave the familiar, but “going home” must bring comfort and peace. Wishing you and Stuart good health and much happiness in your new home. Wayne and I still miss the farm but have so many beautiful memories to recall. We knew it was time to make the move but still experienced the grief of letting go. It all works out in time.

    • Shirley Showalter on March 16, 2021 at 6:49 pm

      I remember admiring that amazing garden on the farm and feeling sad for/with you when you had to leave it. Your words about letting go reminded me of one of my favorite poems:

      Look, the trees
      are turning
      their own bodies
      into pillars

      of light,
      are giving off the rich
      fragrance of cinnamon
      and fulfillment,

      the long tapers
      of cattails
      are bursting and floating away over
      the blue shoulders

      of the ponds,
      and every pond,
      no matter what its
      name is, is

      nameless now.
      Every year
      I have ever learned

      in my lifetime
      leads back to this: the fires
      and the black river of loss
      whose other side

      is salvation,
      whose meaning
      none of us will ever know.
      To live in this world

      you must be able
      to do three things:
      to love what is mortal;
      to hold it

      against your bones knowing
      your own life depends on it;
      and, when the time comes to let it
      to let it go.

      Mary Oliver
      In Blackwater Woods

      Ah, those beautiful, painful, truthful words.
      I know you know this truth.

  9. Betsy on March 16, 2021 at 6:36 pm

    Thank you Shirley for your storytelling contributions to the world! I enjoyed your story about transition today. I am writing this from my home on Maui in the Pacific Ocean. In 2007, I chose to leave Hawaii to stay with my parents at the end of their life, which required that I rent out my home and relocate to the east coast. I will never regret that trip, and the six winters I spent in Northern Delaware with my parents, not far from Lititz, PA.
    The climate change from Hawaii was intense. Here is what I did to prepare for it and to sustain myself until I returned home to Hawaii in 2013. I wrote about Gratitude. Contemplating my move from Hawaii, leaving my home, my friends and my community was a challenge. So I made two lists. One list was all the things I was grateful for about Delaware… my Dad, my Mom, the closeness to my brother’s family, the change of seasons, the spring flowers, etc. On a second list, I wrote about all the things I was grateful for in Hawaii: the waves, the warm people, the warm climate, my home, my community, my students and the pristine ecosystem.
    At the end of the second list, I was smiling with Gratitude for my life which included the blessing of both places. Each place was special to me and my life included it all. Instead of leaving, I chose to experience my move as “expanding” to include both places. That feeling of Gratitude for an “expansive life” has never left me. Any time I am called to move away from my home in Hawaii, I write those 2 gratitude lists and remember to count my blessings for both places, and thank Heaven for a full, expanded life that includes warm love and family everywhere I go. What a blessing! Warm love and Aloha to you all from Betsy on Maui 🌺

    • Shirley Showalter on March 16, 2021 at 6:54 pm

      Aloha to you also, Betsy. What a beautiful revery! And so much wisdom embedded within it. You, too, remind me of the Mary Oliver poem “In Blackwater Woods” copied into the comment above. I hope you keep coming here. I want to learn more about you!

      I think I will start two gratitude lists in my journal. Love that idea.

      • Betsy Bowen on March 16, 2021 at 7:52 pm

        Wonderful! I am so glad we have connected, Shirley. Thank you for the Mary Oliver poem. I felt it in my soul. I am keeping you in my grateful thoughts as you expand your life to the land of your childhood and your Heart!

        All the best,

  10. Jeanette Bontrager on March 16, 2021 at 8:52 pm

    No advice, just welcome to the neighborhood! It will be such fun to have you living one street away!

    • Shirley Showalter on March 17, 2021 at 8:18 am

      We are so delighted to be able to connect again with you after so many years of living elsewhere. Thank you for hosting us on the trip and showing us your lovely home. You were another strong pull in the direction of Lititz. See you on the bocce court. 🙂

  11. Mary Lou Weaver Houser on March 16, 2021 at 10:13 pm

    Something about that childhood geography . . . So you and Kate both have that homing instinct? Where in Lancaster will she be?
    Welcome home, Shirley. There is so much to discover about the many-layered history of this county!
    During this pandemic year, we have been exploring roads, trails, and towns with their cemeteries. Learning never ends😉

    • Shirley Showalter on March 17, 2021 at 8:22 am

      Yes, that childhood geography has a powerful influence, especially, I think, if one grows up on a farm. It is so satisfying to know that I will be able to walk from my house to my sister’s house, part of the way along the linear park trail that used to be our farm.’

      Kate has memories of Lititz, but those were visits, not original landscape. Her hometown is Goshen. 🙂

      I hope you will be a guide to some of those fascinating places you have explored, Mary Lou.

  12. Melodie M Davis on March 17, 2021 at 7:01 am

    Well, this is big news. The Harrisonburg/Shenandoah Valley community will miss you. I’m glad to have had coffee on your deck/living room those two times–and the chatting. It will be great to be so close to your mother.

    Our brood (my siblings) are spread so far, yet not so far as some. Our children are at least in closer proximity. I often think about the colleges that helped determine the trajectory of our lives in terms of location. I wonder how many others feel where they settled was greatly determined by that choice. Thanks for sharing! Glad to know all are doing better.

    I haven’t written publicly about this yet but Mom had a fall in Feb. again, this time breaking her shoulder, which is a stubborn place to get healing and rehab. We’re still waiting for more healing. She’s weighing her choices as well. When Mary Oyer moved to Evergreen it was a wake up call for Mom. Mom couldn’t believe she (M.O.) “needed” to move to assisted living. But we hear Mary loves it there–the social factor.

    • Shirley Showalter on March 17, 2021 at 6:29 pm

      I too am glad that we had those deck chats, Melodie. The mountains will always be there, and it has been a great pleasure to share the joy of the view.

      Yes, the location of colleges has a great influence on where people choose to live later in life. Certainly this has been true in our lives, and we have enjoyed living next door to both EMU and Goshen for many years.

      I was sorry to hear about your mother’s latest fall. I hope she can heal and that she can enjoy Mary Oyer’s company. Grateful that places like Greencroft, VMRC, and Moravian Manor (and many more!) give excellent care.

  13. Shirley Showalter on March 17, 2021 at 8:29 am

    Thank you for the generous memories, Melodie. I am glad, too, for all moments spent in friendship before the awesome presence of the mountains beyond and valley below.

    Sorry to hear your mother had another fall. And glad that she and my mother and Mary Oyer are all getting excellent care.

    Yes, I hope to visit Mother on a regular basis, assuming the restrictions on visitation permit. And to see my siblings and cousins more often. A blessing.

  14. Barbara McDowell Whitt on March 17, 2021 at 12:04 pm

    So you are going home. Your announcement of your decision has drawn me back to Blush. On this St. Patrick’s Day morning, I’ve read again your mother Barbara Hess Hershey’s story, “The Magic Elevator” with its elves and a rainbow, which she wrote when she was fifteen, and has been told and retold in your family time and time again. Here, you wrote about getting home after your first day in first grade:

    “Our dog Teddy ran to greet me, and beside him sprinted Henry. His teddy bear hair cut caught the September sun and made him look like a little cherub. Peace settled into my heart. Mother emerged from the kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron, smiling.

    “Then I knew why Mother told us that magic elevator story so often. No matter where I went or how confusing that new place would be, I could always remember that the rainbow’s destination was home, Mother would always be there to greet me, and, no matter what happened, we would make a story out of it.”

    –Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World, Shirley Hershey Showalter, c. 2013, p. 74

    • Shirley Showalter on March 17, 2021 at 12:14 pm

      Oh Barbara, how touched I am that you remembered this passage and took the time to look it up again. Yes, I said it about as well as I know how back then, and it is coming true again:

      “Then I knew why Mother told us that magic elevator story so often. No matter where I went or how confusing that new place would be, I could always remember that the rainbow’s destination was home, Mother would always be there to greet me, and, no matter what happened, we would make a story out of it.”

      You have a great sixth sense, Barbara. I will share this paragraph with Mother when we finally see each other again in person.

      Thank you.

  15. Ann Hostetler on March 17, 2021 at 12:43 pm

    Godspeed and blessings as you appreciate, reminisce, and release things to create space for the new.

    • Shirley Showalter on March 17, 2021 at 6:32 pm

      Thank you, Ann. These are good words. I especially like “release” right now. Hope the same is true in your life.

  16. susan scott on March 17, 2021 at 3:54 pm

    Reverie – I’m listening to Red River Valley as I type Shirley – I’ve always loved that song – it’s ages since I heard it. It has such a longing/yearning in it. Home, here today, there another day, somewhere else yet another day each with its own memories, loves, wishes, reveries – vales and hills, streams and brooks, rivers and lands, each to be traversed and to look upon with a wondering eye and heart. Your new home looks beautiful and I know you’ll be happy there.

    • Shirley Showalter on March 17, 2021 at 6:35 pm

      Susan, we hear the same subliminal message in that song. I’m glad it brought out your ability to appreciate the potential of your day. You have the gift of awe and wonder. Thanks for your interest in our new place and for taking time to comment.

  17. […] has written six blog posts, starting with this one, about the move so far. She and Stuart are telling everyone who asks about how much they love this […]

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