Opinion: “There’s no place like home.”

Glenn Mangurian

April 3, 2024 By Glenn Mangurian

Have you ever noticed that after an enjoyable vacation it is always a good feeling to return home? There is something about the familiar surroundings that is welcoming. Being away from home requires us to adapt to a different environment with different routines. As refreshing as time away can be, there is nothing like being in the comfort of your own place.

A House Is Not a Home
Dionne Warwick sang this ballad, “A House Is Not a Home”, written by Burt Bacharach which reminded us that a house (4 walls and a floor) is just a place to eat and sleep, but a home is a place where we feel secure and loved. We buy houses, but we create homes that accumulate memories forming an ambiance that is palpable. When we are away from home we will eventually miss the comforts and the familiar routines. I recently had that happen to me.

My Recent Sickness and Hospitalization
In mid-January I was admitted to the hospital very sick with a 105 degree temperature. A wound had become infected and I spent the next four weeks in the hospital and the following four weeks in a skilled nursing facility regaining my strength. Over those eight weeks I had to adapt to life away from home dependent on others for my daily care. I experienced life outside my “bubble”.

Life Outside Our “Bubbles”
I usually interact with people similar to me and often forget it’s a limited view of the “real world.” Quite frankly, much of our country and the world are different than my “bubble” and probably yours. Hospitals serve patients from across all segments of our society. If you want to experience different elements of the local “real world”, you will find patients of all backgrounds in the Emergency Department as well as seeking care in the hospital rooms.

My Roommate, Rob
Nowadays private hospital rooms are limited to patients with Covid. During my hospital stay I had five different roommates. The one I will remember who had a strong impact on me was Rob. He was a homeless man with a lot of problems. He would yell for his nurse, refuse his medications and ask for pain killers. Rob had long stringy hair and a scraggly beard. Over time we would have short conversations. He told me that he was suffering from severe liver cirrhosis from years of alcohol consumption. Rob shared that he had been incarcerated for ten years and had been living on the streets. His health was failing. He was discharged to the street. He carried his worldly possessions in two plastic trash bags. As he was leaving the room, my wife offered him some money. Touched by her generosity he asked to give her a hug and offered me one of his coats. Beneath his sad journey and current circumstances is a human who has a capacity for kindness. I don’t know where Rob is today. My heart goes out to him.

I Am Very Fortunate
I’m home now regaining my strength and recovering my health. I am fortunate to have lived the American Dream. I have had a great life, have a loving family and draw strength from a strong support system. I’ve lived in my home for 35 years – a special and unique place, unmatched by any other location I’ve visited. I’ve learned that home isn’t where you’re from. It’s where you find light when all grows dark. Home is where the heart draws strength.

Remember …
Glinda, the Good Witch told Dorothy that she always had the power to go home. As Dorothy closed her eyes, she clicked her ruby slippers together and repeated. “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.” I may not have ruby slippers but I’ve drawn on my life experiences to find my path home

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