Monday, October 15, 2007


Twice Blessed's blog made me think about the concept of home. Her husband wanted to travel and she felt he was looking for his past.

It is common to read about dementia patients wanting to go home even when they are home. I've experienced it myself. My mother, who had Parkinson's, wanted to go home. My dad would try to explain to her that she was home. They built this home together and had shared it for nearly 40 years at the time. They had lived on the land 50 years then. But Mom wanted to go someplace else.

My grandmother lived for a long while with my mother and father. She was always wanting to go home. She would get up in the middle of the night and pack her suitcase. Mom would ask her what she was doing and she would say she was going home. Once dad caught her on the road in front of the house. She was entirely naked and he put his old Owens Corning red windbreaker on her. He tried to persuade her to come back to the house but she kept telling him she had to go home. Later she "escaped" from two nursing homes because she was trying to get home.

Before Dad died my brother and I took him to the place he was born and raised. That house is not the house he was born in but one that was built a few years later. I think the first one burned maybe.

But Dad never wanted to travel. He knew he was home up until the very end of his life. Just a few days earlier he had been restless at night and I found him down in the office. He was just looking around. I escorted him, rather callously as I think about it now, back to his room. I wish I had spent more time with him. I think he was taking a last look.

This farm and this home were more than just soil and sticks for my dad. They were more for my mom, too, but more than anything they were Dad's dream. It is not often that we achieve so much of our dream. So maybe that's why he never wanted to leave here because it would have meant leaving a dream fulfilled.

I wonder though what is home for me.

Is it the place of my childhood where I spent nearly 20 years of my life? Or, is it the place where a young husband lived with his young family for nearly 20 years more? Or, is it the home I designed and built and lived in so briefly before the divorce? Or, is it dad's and mom's home where I have lived the last 9 years? Or might it be at Judy's house where I am gradually now moving in? Or is it some yet unknown place that remains to be imagined and dreamed and built in the future?

Really all of the places I have lived except for two have been the homes of others. And the two that were mine I remember fondly but with no profound sense of loss and surely no desire to revisit.

I know that Judy's home will soon feel like home to me as well. And yet if we move from it to some other place I also know that I will eventually feel at home there, too.

I do not know if this is a good thing or a bad thing.


~Betsy said...

My husband moved around a lot as a boy due to his dad's employment. When he and I got married and started a family, he told me he never wanted to do that to our kids. I didn't really understand because I lived in the same house all my life.

Now that my kids are older and we are well established in our community, I get it. Both kids' have current friends they met in their pre-school days. There's something to be said for that. I don't think we'll ever leave here.

When I moved Mom here, I never let her go back through her house. I just sort of picked her and a suitcase up one day and she never returned. I brought her things a little at a time. Sometimes I wonder if I did the right thing, but at the time I felt it would be too traumatic for her under the circumstances. Who's to say...

I sure understand the home thing. I'm glad your parents got their wish.

nancy said...

very interesting post, makes me do a lot of thinking and reflecting. i moved a few times growing up as russ was transferred with sears. last summer when i took russ back to door county for the last time, where he and my mom had lived and called home for more than 30 years, he did not recognize it. he did seem to feel comfortable in my home at the end, where he had lived for only the past year and a half.

what do i consider home? hard to say. i had 4 homes growing up and 2 homes since bob and i got married. i guess to me it's more a place in my heart, where my memories are.

thanks for the post, great job!

rilera said...

Your post got me thinking about where home is for me. I was born in Michigan, grew up in Duluth, MN and then moved to Minneapolis where in terms of years I have lived the longest. Perhaps I have yet to find my place that I will think of as home.

Joanne D. Kiggins said...

Beautiful and thoughtful post. I'm living with Mom in the house I grew up in. My house is just through the woods. Both are home to me, but I do miss my house (with no steps.) :D

Lori1955 said...

I don't think anyplace is home for me. We moved around a bit when I was young as dad was in international banking. I really never liked staying in one place too long. Maybe home isn't a place for me but a state of mind.

steflovesnonna said...

I think it is good that you can feel at home there. Or a new place, eventually. I grew up in one house, with Nonna, mom, dad, and brother. My parents still live there and I still have a room there. Is it home? I don't think so. Is this apartment at school home? I don't think so either. I guess I just want to feel like myself at the place I call home and right now nether of my options has that. I hope one day to find my home. Until then I will try and be happy with what I have.

cornbread hell said...

your words are rife with meaning to me.

mom and i just returned from a short visit to my sister's. mom was disoriented at first, but by the end of the stay, clearly felt *at home.*
i wrote an email to my sister just moments before reading this post mentioning in discreet terms how much mom enjoyed being *home.*

when we returned to where she lives now, 100 miles away, mom literally told me she was...glad to be *home.*

myself, i have had many homes. i do not like the house i live in now. the last *home* i had has since been demolished, but i still love it. i hope to have a home again someday.

home. so much more than time or place.

Patricia said...

Home is where the heart is Terry my dear.

SKYGIRL said...

When my Grandmother was in a Nuring Home (supposidly the nicest one in the State, Flinty!)She only had two phrases. One was "Take me up, Lord, take me up!" with her arms flying above her. That was a heart-breaker, but the other one was "Take me home, I want to go home!"

I think when a patient is in a Nuring Home, and knows that is their last stop, they want to go to Heaven. I think Heaven is Home.

When an AD patient is living in pretty good surroundings, or even in their own home, and want to go home, I think it is back to a time where things were famliar, when they were not so scared, or uncertain about, everything?

But the first thing that 'popped' into my mind, while reading your post, and I don't know when it was written, or by whom, but it was "Home is where the Heart is"

Mum, hit it right on the nail!

~Betsy said...

Just checking in on you, Terry. I saw on the weather last night that Oklahoma was hit pretty hard with storms. I hope all is well at your home.

nancy said...

just thought i'd let you know that i'm thinking of you as well and hope things are going ok.