Day 737: Home

Today, I’m returning to Boston Children’s Hospital,* where I spent many days and nights away from home, between the ages of 8 and 27.

People’s feelings and thoughts about home are shaped by many things. My experience of home was highlighted and shadowed by many experiences at a place that was NOT home for me — the hospital.

Here are my in-the-moment associations with “home”:

  • Home is where the heart is (something my late mother used to say).
  • I sometimes have a lot of feelings — including fear, sadness,  and anxiety — when I have to leave home. These feelings can be out-of-proportion to the current situation and — I believe — influenced by my experiences of home and the hospital, when I was a little kid.
  • Between the ages of 8 and 13, being away from home at the hospital was particularly difficult for me, because I had to undergo many scary procedures and surgeries, and — in the 1960’s — Children’s Hospital did not allow parents to stay with their children outside of regular visiting hours.
  • When I would arrive at the hospital, in the 1960’s, for yet another stay, I would immediately make myself feel more at home by spending hours on the pay phone, talking to my friends, feeding the phone with a pile of quarters (supplied by my parents).
  • Because of my many experiences at the hospital — dealing with a range of different nurses, doctors, and other big people — I am very skilled, to this day, at homing in on who is kind, empathic, and trustworthy and who is not.
  • Home = safety, wherever we can find it.

I love that I’m home, as I’m writing this blog post today.

Here are some photos of home:

IMG_4418 IMG_4420 IMG_4421 IMG_4425 IMG_4427 IMG_4429 IMG_4430 IMG_4431 IMG_4432 IMG_4434 IMG_4437 IMG_4438 IMG_4440 IMG_4441 IMG_4442 IMG_4443

A penny for your thoughts about this post, so far?

Here’s one of my favorite “home” songs:

Pat Metheny‘s music (including “Letter from Home” found here on YouTube) has made hospitals feel more like home to me, many times.

When I was home with my family in the 1960’s, Burt Bacharach brought many songs into the home, including this one:

“A House is Not a Home” is making a home here, on YouTube.

What’s your favorite “Home” song?

While I may have some feelings of anxiety and sadness right now, as I prepare to leave home for Children’s Hospital,* it helps to tell myself this:

I am no longer a child. I am an adult now, with control, power, resources, supports, and skills I did not have back in the days when Children’s Hospital was my home-away-from-home.

In my usual free-associative way, I am now thinking about the word “homework” and how — as a psychotherapist — I like to give people homework.  Here are some of my associations with “homework” as I’m writing this at home:

  • When I give my patients/clients homework and they don’t do it, I tell them, “That wasn’t the right homework” and we try something else.
  • When I was in therapy decades ago, working on difficult memories from my hospitalizations, I came up with a particularly helpful homework assignment for myself: to draw a map of the 5th Floor of the Fegan Building of Boston Children’s Hospital, and to illustrate — with pictures and words —  vivid experiences that happened to me there, in many rooms and locations on that floor.  One thing I drew on that map of the Cardiology Unit at Children’s Hospital from the 1960’s: the nurses’ station, where I spent a lot of time, talking to as many kind adults as I could find there. Another thing I remember drawing on that map, which helped so much in my personal healing: the pay phone with a pile of quarters, located in the hallway off the elevator between the regular hospital rooms and the Intensive Care Unit, where children, including me, recovered from surgery.

In my free-associating style, writing that previous paragraph inspires me to share this movie clip with you, now:

(“E.T. phone home” clip is here, on YouTube.)

I may have felt like an alien, at times in my life, but it always helps me to phone home. Every morning, that’s what I do, here on WordPress.

Thanks to all who do their best to make homes in the world, including you, of course.


* This morning, I’m going back to Children’s Hospital for an outpatient appointment with a new cardiologist. I should be home, soon.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 48 Comments

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48 thoughts on “Day 737: Home

  1. I leave home today for Florida, for a reunion with three childhood friends. We haven’t seen one another in 26 years!! Being with them will be a different kind of home.
    Here’s a home song you might like, too, by Bonnie Raitt. One of my favorites.

    • That reunion sounds wonderful, Emilie. And I love Bonnie Raitt! The video isn’t playing here, but that doesn’t matter — you made this place more like home.

  2. My father was an Air Force officer. He retired when I was 10, and took a job in Fort Worth. I lived in Texas for almost 40 years, and it wasn’t until I left that I realized it had NEVER been a home for me. I just didn’t know it wasn’t normal to feel like an outsider all your life. I’m not now in a place that feels particularly warm or welcoming – but at least I’m not back there!

    I am glad for you that you were able to make those long stays more homelike – and I’m wishing with all my heart the very best for you!

  3. That must have been very difficult to have to make the hospital your home as a child. I’ll bet it was tough on your parents to be away from you, too. I’m certainly glad that you had all of those quarters! I also hope that all goes well with your visit today with the new cardiologist.

    I don’t have a favorite “home” song to share, but this post does make me think of my oldest daughter. She just left her home, for all of January, to begin a rotation at a Pediatric ICU about five hours away. She loves children, so I’m certain that she’ll be a bright, cheery presence to many of them who are away from their homes.

    Take care!

    • It always makes me happy to hear about about wonderful, loving people working with children in hospitals. Your daughter will make a difference, believe me.

  4. Kentucky Angel

    It’s very hard to make a home atmosphere in a hospital under the best conditions, but it seems like you were able to do it. After my divorce I had trouble finding a place that felt like home, but after 4 moves in as many years, I found my present apartment, and even with the problems we are having now, it felt like home. Today, even with all of the problems with a manager who doesn’t know how to manage, elevators that break down, and a building that is falling apart from sheer criminal neglect, it still feels like home. My family and friends tell me to move, but I say no, this is home for me. The people in charge should be arrested, but it feels like home. I’m staying, because it feels like home.

    • I’m so glad you have a place that feels like home! It makes such a huge difference. I wish I wish that the management there would do their job.

      Every time you visit here, it feels more like home. Many thanks.

  5. My heart always feels like its come home when I come here!

    and I like your photos from home.

  6. How lovely that you have made a home you love and is a safe place for you! I think making our homes ours is the most important thing we can do for our well being, whether it is a house, apartment or even a hospital room!

  7. A very homey post. Thank you!

  8. Home by Philip Phillips is my favorite home song lately.

    Hope this works! Another fave is Billy Joel’s Your My Home.

    Great post and I could relate to it on many levels. Thanks for being so genuine in your blogs and showing how a therapist sees the world.

    peace,
    Linda

  9. Eleanor

    I’m with you today Ann.
    My favorite home song is by the Beatles, When I Get Home.
    Dylan’s, To Be Alone with You reminds me of being home.
    Love and hugs,
    Eleanor

  10. I hope Penny is with you. She makes me feel at home too!
    Hugs
    Val x

    • Penny was with me at the doctor’s (although she didn’t get in any photos today). And, she’s with me now (as are you, Val).

  11. There are many great home-themed songs, Ann, because we need them. Songwriters and song listeners.

    I’ll go with Simon and Garfunkel’s “Homeward Bound.”

    I hope you are by now, with opinions that make you feel at home with your thoughts and concerns about your special and unusual heart.

    • As usual, Mark, you bring an important point home. There are lots of songs about home because we need them. And I love Simon and Garfunkel.

      The people I saw today at Children’s made me feel very much at home. I wish there were more people like that around when I was a child there; I’m grateful they were there for me today.

  12. We are all with you today. I love the traditional song Home Sweet Home, here is Kiri singing it in Maori https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7R67rji5aTI. When I was three I had my adenoids out, and our parents were only allowed to drop us off and pick us up three days later (it would only upset the children to see their parents was the reasoning). I still have several memories from just those three days of a minor procedure, so I can barely imagine what, memories linger for you.

  13. I have lived in the same area my whole life so this area feels like home and I can tell you it feels good to get home after a holiday away

  14. I always feel at home here Ann!

    Why is Canada all yellow while the US has all those pretty colours on your globe??? ❤

    Diana xo

    • That globe spins perpetually (using magnets) and lights up in different ways, Diana. I think I just happened to capture it when Canada was looking duller than the USA.

      Thanks for helping me feel at home, here and there!

  15. Ann, the Bonnie Raitt song wouldn’t play for me either. What’s the name of the song? (I’m a Bonnie fan. You know she went to Radcliffe…)
    Hope all is well and good luck with your heart (a funny thing to write)…

  16. Ann, I thought about Enya, with her song: “On My Way Home”. I used to find Enya a little bit melancholic, at least for me, but now I feel she’s more spiritual than anything else.

  17. Even after today, we’re all with you today. And there’s a little home somewhere where all our blogs intersect, too. It just doesn’t have a pay phone.

  18. What a difficult childhood you had with all that time in hospital.

  19. WOW,you are remarkable~

  20. Ann, is that a portrait of you that Penny is hanging out with?

    • Yes. It was in my childhood home, next to a portrait — by the same artist — of my sister. Both portraits are in my home, now.

  21. Pingback: Day 738: Plans for today | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

  22. Pingback: Day 746: I’m here! | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

  23. Pingback: Day 758: Tests | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

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