Every summer I make a pilgrimage to one of my former homes whether to Wisconsin for my hometown’s Catfish Days celebration, South Florida after all the snow birds have already flown up North, or Beantown sporting a Red Sox cap. This year, my homecoming is to South Florida. Although happy to be back in the land of good Cuban food, I come under unfortunate circumstances to be by my father’s side who suffered a stroke last month. Although he has many challenges and intense physical therapy ahead, tomorrow he will be gratefully returning home.
In preparation for his homecoming, I thought of my traumatic accident and recovery in 2009. After four long months recovering not only in the hospital but also with family in Massachusetts and New York, I returned to my Florida home (shown at beginning of post). I was surprised by my initial reaction to my homecoming. To further explain, I include an excerpt of my soon to be released memoir, When All Balls Drop.
My homecoming ride through our neighborhood and seeing our home for the first time in months was exciting. I had lived in Florida for nearly five years, but after much time outside of the area, it was weird seeing pink-, peach-, and Caribbean-colored homes. However, the palm trees and the hibiscus flowers were surely welcome sights after a dreary winter up north.
My father parked the car in the driveway and got my bags. I entered the front door of our two-story, peach-colored stucco house—just as I left it. But although it was our house, it didn’t quite feel like it. I looked around at the pictures and artwork. With our wedding photo above the entertainment center and a statue from our honeymoon in the living room corner, I sat down on the couch with bittersweet emotions. The warmth I remembered wasn’t there. It had been frozen in time, but I had changed.
My parents noticed my reaction. They knew getting back into a normal routine―cooking, eating, showering, and sleeping―would bring a touch of that former “normal” back for me.
Likewise, I imagine both my father and I will have a joyous, yet turbulent return to his home. The house is relatively the same as he left it, albeit a bit cleaner, but he has changed.
Have you ever had a homecoming from a health scare, relocation for work, or stationed overseas? How did you react to your home after a long time away? Please share your homecoming experiences.
Here’s to Looking Up!