Mrs. Edmonds is on a roll today. She is determined to go “home”. The staff has tried every possible re-directional technique, but none have proven effective . She has cursed, screamed and is now demanding to call the police. If you ask her where “home” is, she will tell you “” down the street, 59th and Broad”.
“What state is that in, Mrs. Edmonds?” I ask.
“Are you really that dumb? So dumb you don’t know what state YOU are in, that you have to ask ME? Dumb, dumb dumb. If you don’t know where you are, I am not telling you.” With that, she walks away. Okay, that did not work out too well. The staff chuckle at my being told off by Mrs. Edmonds.
A few minutes later, Mrs. Edmonds heads for the door. In her hand, she is carrying a pair of panties, one black shoe and a lap shawl.
“You can not hold me against my will. This is false imprisonment. I am notifying the newspaper. I am calling the police. Let me tell you one thing, I am not on welfare. I am not going to be held against my will. My children need me to come home to take care of them. You just stand there and look dumb. What is wrong with you? Get out of my way, I am going home.” She presses by and goes into a secure courtyard, which she believes leads to “home”.
Home. We all have a place in our heart for some place, that we call “home”, regardless of where we currently live. You may live in Cleveland, Ohio and have done so for 25 years, yet you go home every year to South Carolina. Home a place that is more than an address, location or physical structure. Home is a place that is full of memories, a place of safety, refuge and family, not a zip code. If you were to ask me where I am “from”, I will tell you all about my home, in Sunset Beach, North Carolina. I haven’t lived there since 1987. Recently, someone sent me pictures of my beloved home, and I no longer recognized it. There had always been a wooden, creaky one lane bridge that led over the Coastal Waterway…..not anymore. A modern upscale bridge now replaces it. Everything looked different, yet, in looking at the pictures of Calabash, I was reminded of our family gatherings there every Sunday after church. Across the street, there was a place that sold used golf balls by the bucket. My brothers and I would run across the street and toss the balls back and forth while waiting for our parents. For fun, our parents would take us down the road to North Myrtle Beach, where were would go into the shops, play on the beach, and enjoy a treat at McDonald’s.
Studying the pictures of “home”, I remembered standing on the fishing pier, watching for members of our church to arrive, for Sunrise Service, every Easter Sunday. I could visualize Baptism Sunday, seeing my father in minds eye, baptizing new converts right there on the beach. Home, a place of memories.
I wasn’t born in North Carolina. I was born in Alabama. I have lived all over the place, both in the United States and on military bases abroad. I made my own home in Richmond, Virginia, seven hours away from Sunset Beach. But home? Sunset Beach.
My point is, we all have such a place, such a story on where home is. Just like Mrs. Edmonds, we all wish to return home. To her,she wants to return to 59th and Broad Street, in New York. The place she lived with her husband and children. According to her social history, she was born in Jamaica, moved to New York as a child, and lived her entire adult life there. She married her husband , raised her two children, and worked her entire life there as a Registered Nurse in a hospital. New York is her “home”.
I think we all suffer from some form of homesickness. Dementia patients just express that desire to return to their home, more than the rest of us do. I guess the old saying, “You can never go home again” really is true. But that’s okay. I subscribe to the theory of “home is where the heart is.”
Mrs. Edmonds? She has changed topics now and is expressing how nurses give poor care these days.
“When I was a nurse, we loved to work. You people don’t like to work. You do as little as you can…you know what I am going to do? I am going to call the police. I am going to tell them….why yes, I would like an ice cream Sundae………”