No matter what, home will always be there
Last week, I got a phone call that froze my insides.
Less than a year ago, my brother called me to tell me Granny was dead. It’s still fresh on my mind.
Last week, he called to tell me I needed to come home because Granddaddy wasn’t doing well. He said if I wanted to be home in time, I needed to come. Right away. So, I got things squared away and headed home.
Tears fell. The lines blurred, at times. I prayed, both silently and aloud, that I would make it in time. I did. In fact, I made it with plenty of time to spare. It’s been more than a week, and Granddaddy is doing great. It was touch and go for a few days, but things seemed to turn around.
My days in Mountain City also yielded some interesting moments. My top three:
• No matter how far society progresses, there will always be some people who are stuck behind the times. Last year, when Granny passed, the funeral director informed Mom and me we should have no problems making coffee for visitors since we were women. The pot he brought us yielded 60-some cups and was a bear to figure out.
This go-around, one of Granddaddy’s therapists struck up a conversation with my uncle about football. They talked college before moving to pro ball. Mom and I weren’t enthused enough apparently, because the therapist apologized for boring us with “man talk.” Mom caught my eye and rolled hers. Her ire gets raised when people make ignorant comments like that, too.
• Sometimes, having someone to listen to you is the best gift. Granny was in the nursing home for about two years before her passing. As a rehab patient, Granddad has been at the nursing home for therapy. It’s not an easy place to visit. Some are there for rehab, like Granddaddy. Others have stays that will be much longer. One lady has been there for 14 years. Some have family members who visit regularly, sometimes daily. Others rarely see family or friends, as they’ve simply been placed into the hands of others for their care.
Last week, a lady in a wheelchair beckoned me over. I’ll be honest and say I almost tried to avoid her. Some of the patients there aren’t the friendliest. Or the most coherent. I’m often mistaken for a staff member, and sometimes the residents don’t react well when I tell them I can’t help them. But, I steadied myself and went over to talk to her.
She needed my advice on dealing with her mother-in-law. Apparently, she and her husband disagreed on what needed to be done to help. The lady said she had suggested putting his mother in a hospital as that might be best. I sympathized with her plight, telling her it must be tough to deal with the situation. I agreed she seemed to be on the right track as far as help went, though. She thanked me for listening and went on her way.
The lady had to have been in her 80s, so I know there was no mother-in-law and possibly no husband. But, to her, the situation was real and she needed to vent. After our exchange, I was glad to have talked with her and silently hoped that one day someone would show me the same kind of kindness.
• Despite the less-than-pleasant circumstances, there is a familiarity and comfort that always comes from going home. Staying up too late watching “Matlock” with Mom. Having toiletries and some clothes there to make packing lighter. Crawling into bed at night with a Care Bear sitting on the pillow that I’ve had since I was a baby. That bear has been used as a Kleenex, bled on, barfed on and been sewed up more times than I can count, but it’s still right there waiting for me to give it a hug when I need one.
Sometimes, when life is difficult, we find ports in the storm in which to cling. For me, I found things both comforting and annoying.
I’ve learned a lot about myself through these experiences. Primarily I see that even when circumstances are hard, the feeling of familiarity, of coming home — even of sharing an eye roll with someone who means the world to you — gives you the strength to keep going. No matter what happens, these won’t change — and that’s the biggest comfort of all.