Home is Where the Heart Is

The breakfast hour at the Manor is almost over.  Our usual latecomer crowd lingers over coffee, laughing and visiting.  The conversation covers everything from the antics in the Senate – in the very “Chamber of Sober Second Thought” – to an email picture of a new great-grandchild.

Tentatively, a woman approaches our table.  “May I join you?”

“Of course,” comes a chorus of voices.  “Are you new here?”

“Yes, my name is Marie.  I moved in last night, or at least my kids moved me in!  They worked so hard.  This is all so . . . different.  Tell me, do you like it here?”   

She sits down, and our long-suffering, sympathetic servers bring her breakfast and coffee, and the talk goes on.  Marie is swamped with answers.  Everyone talks at once, laughing, giving opinions, tips, and encouragement to the newcomer.  One voice carries over the rest, “Of course you will like it, it’s home.  Home is where the heart is, you know.”  With this tattered cliché thrown in, the getting-to-know-you session is over.  Although we laugh at the old saying, it does seem to cover the general feeling.  With a “See you later,” the group breaks up.

As I walk back to my suite, I muse over the encounter.  What was it we were trying to tell Marie?  Home—was it a feeling we were trying to convey?  Why does the old cliché ring so true?  I turn to my computer and contact everyone’s friend – Google!  What is the meaning of the old saying?  The results are spectacular to say the least.  In 0.28 seconds Google has 38 million “hits” with different interpretations.  Obviously serious culling is called for.  I make my best effort.

The origin of this saying is unknown, with guesses ranging from the days of the American Pilgrims, back to Pliny the Elder (AD 23 – 79).  There are basic needs which create a universal need to feel safe, comfortable, loved, and happy.  If these conditions exist, you have reached home.  This home is where you long to be.  Vague as this is, it helps to explain the wide pull of that saying.  It also throws light on why some people, who have had unfortunate conditions in their birth families, never think of longing to be there.  Their hearts are certainly not where their familial homes are located.  It also explains why our definition of home changes as we age.  Home is not necessarily a place: It can be a feeling of reaching something essential, what we long for and know is necessary.  

I never know where the next breakfast debate will take me, but this one has been helpful.

A few days later, I see Marie again.  She seems . . . at home.



Filed under This & That

14 Responses to Home is Where the Heart Is

  1. Jim Taylor

    Hi, Marjorie,
    I dread the day when I need to move into a “home” — quite irrationally, because the feelings I have now about independence and autonomy may be totally outdated by the time I need to make that move. I’m glad to hear that you seem to find comfort and company in your situation. That tells me that perhaps it won’t be so bad after all, when the time comes.
    Jim T

    • Marjorie

      Jim, I’m a tad surprised at you. I believe you have to go into the King James Bible to get this version, but in that poetic book it reads “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof”. Of course, at (my guess of) your age, you cannot imagine considering a seniors’ residence home. When you were a child, in India if I remember correctly, what did you think home would always look like? All I ask – push it to the back of the things you have to solve now, but keep alert to changes in your life which are apt to change what you need, and what you will like.

  2. Robert McFetridge

    Hi Marge

    Nice essay. Sounds like you are fitting in well and have a good social group. We meet every month at the Gardens in Qualicum Beach to get together with the local MS support group. I can hardly wait to move in myself (hopefully not too soon though). It looks pretty good.

    • Marjorie

      Hello again, Bob – and my love to Irene as well! There is a right time for many things, the difficult thing is to gauge it correctly. It was easier for us than many, as Sheldon’s health situation made the Lodge situation an answer to several problems – and it also gave us five good years together that perhaps we would not have had otherwise. It became “home” very quickly. Thank you for responding.

  3. Ian Hepher

    Hi, Mrs. G…I don’t always respond to your blog postings, though I always read them. I continue to marvel at you and other seniors (a designation which well and truly fits me as well) for whom every event is grist for your mill, every new experience is something that provokes thought, research, and sometimes writing. My dad, who will turn 93 on Christmas Day, is cut from a similar piece of cloth. Thank you for sharing your insights and wisdom.

    As you likely know, Ralph and I are in frequent contact. It’s a friendship which I cherish.

    • Marjorie

      Ian – What a pleasure to hear from you. A great way to start the day. It was also nice to hear about your father. I hope he lives close enough so that you can visit him often. My four kids, and their kids, and yet another generation appearing … all make my “aged” years something to savour.

    • Ian, you write, “…for whom every event is grist for your mill, every new experience is something that provokes thought, research and sometimes writing.”

      THIS is the essence of living — wherever you are. That Marjorie has made a smooth transition to a retirement home is not at all surprising to me. She makes any circumstance she is in into the art of living attentively.

      (I know, I know, Marjorie, you can hear me! . Hi!. Another great post. Thanks.)

      • Marjorie

        Barbara – If I live so darned “attentively”, how come I make so many blunders? Despite that snarky response, my friend, I do thank you for being a faithful reader and for your encouragement. So glad you enjoyed the post. By the time I get one finished, I often wonder if I should pitch it! No judgement, I guess.

        • Ah, you are confusing living “attentively” with normal day-to-day “human error” — that’s why there are erasers on pencils! You have always done the former or you wouldn’t be able to write a blog people want to read. 🙂

          • Marjorie

            Barbara – Aha – I think I see the problem! It is the words we are using. Does “attentively” mean to you being reasonably aware of what is going on around you? If so I would say, “Yes, I think I am, at least reasonable so, and most of the time.” Unfortunately that does leave lots of time for what you call “human error!” Anyhow I like where you end. It is nice if people like to read my blogs.

  4. Eveline

    NIce insight Marjorie. “It explains why people with unfortunate circumstances in their birth families , do not long to be there.”

    And speaks to the necessity of creating a home for the heart elsewhere as part of the recovery process from growing up in that unfortunate first home.

    love to you .


    • Marjorie

      Eveline – Your comment hits on an interesting point, those unfortunate folks who knew terrible home situations. Sometimes the results are surprising. In the cases I knew well, once they got away (at a young age) they never went back. In one case the individual kept in touch with the one parent who loved deeply and made the kids know it, but could not change things in the home. In the other, I think there was almost no contact with home, after the “escape”. In both cases these people grew up determined to make for themselves homes that would provide love and care and good parenting. They both succeeded, and now are loved and honored by children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. As my grandmother said “Never say never”. Occasionally people can rise from the ashes of a personal Phoenix – but there are those who are consumed.

  5. Linda LeDrew

    Thanks so much for sharing your insights. I look forward to your short essays and the comments to your readers.
    We left Newfoundland in late October. George is upgrading Matthew’s basement and I am spending time with John. We are all together for the long weekend. Matthew and George joined us from Cornwall. I am cooking many of our favourite foods.

    • Marjorie

      Linda – How lovely to hear from the LeDrews. To know old friends, all over the place, read my blogs gives me a great deal of pleasure. We are spread far and wide – Newfoundland, BC, Ontario, and the Prairies – and a few sprinkled across the USA. For me the “dividends” are two-fold, hearing from friends, and getting comments on their varied reactions on the ideas my essays present. What more could I ask?