2011-10-13 / General Stories


(Life Lessons from Hospice Patients)

I Want To Go Home

Until recently, Ralph had lived most of his ninety years on the same piece of land in the same house. He was born and raised there. He cared for both his parents there. Both his parents passed there. World War II was the only time he had ever been away. When his health declined, his family moved him to an assisted living facility. Now, he spends his days shuffling up and down the halls on his walker, or sitting quietly in one of the chairs scattered here and there.

Ralph is very friendly, but has some pretty severe memory issues. We tend to have the same conversation, over and over. At some point, he’ll turn serious, look at me with pleading eyes and say, “I want to go home. Why can’t I go home?”

Home. A familiar place where we feel secure and safe, shared by people who love us and say things like, “I’m proud of you.” A place our hearts are at ease, where the philosophy of no-matter-what-togetherwe’ll make-it rules.

Home. For many, home may not have been like that or be like that. Yet we all long for a home where things are as they should be. Where we can be ourselves. Where love, acceptance, and security reign.

I long for home. But I’m here now. Maybe I should combine longing with effort, making a home here and now.

“I want to go home.”

I know, Ralph. We all do.

Gary Roe is the Chaplain of Southern Care Hospice and is interim Minister at First Baptist Church in Lexington

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