Most children have stories about running away from home. Not me. As a child, I was always trying to get BACK home.
When I was 5-6 years old, my dad was building a house several miles from where we lived. This was in Canada, 1976. My dad was normally a farmer, but this was a project he did right before we moved to Texas. It was hard work, but with the help of friends and family, he did accomplish it.
I have good memories of that time. We built the house close to St Thomas, across from an airport, so there were planes landing and pretty lights at night. There was an old building in the back that had an attic with a trapdoor so we made our own “club room” up there and played for hours.
I didn’t help much on the building, mostly I got into trouble. Things like walking on wet cement because it looked dry, my aunt told me to stay off, but I didn’t listen very well. It ruined my nice Sunday shoes with the double straps I got from Mexico.
Well, one Saturday I guess my brother and I were bored so we decided to ask dad if we could go home. After much pleading, surprisingly, dad agreed. Off we went, heading home. My brother was faster so he was up ahead. On and on we trotted. I’m guessing it must have been atleast a 10 mile walk to home, but we were undaunted.
After about 2 miles, I looked back to see my dad’s truck coming along the road. I hid. The grass was pretty tall, and sure enough, he didn’t see me. He spotted my brother and picked him up, but I think I was afraid that he was going to take us back to the new house, so I stayed low till he passed another time or two. After repeatedly calling out to me, I did finally come out and climbed into the truck. But thankfully, Whew! We were going home! My dad later told me he allowed us to walk ahead and he had planned to pick us up on the way. What had baffled and alarmed him was how far we had gotten in such a short time!
Another instance I remember was when I tried to escape from the hospital. Yes, an escape. I was probably 4 years old. That is one of my youngest memories, it amazed my mom that I remembered so much.
There was talk going on in our home about me going to the hospital. It was a scary thought, but mom tried to make it a good thing. I got a new purple hairbrush. New crayons and coloring book. But, when my parents took me in, I wasn’t convinced it was a good thing. I kept a sharp eye on them. After showing me around and trying to leave me while I played, they finally sat me down with my back towards them as I colored in my new coloring book with my new crayons.
Next thing I knew, I looked up to see them running down the hallway. There was a gate blocking me from following, I ran to it and tried to open the latch but it was child proof. There was nothing to do but stay. Looking back, I think it must have devastated me. Please don’t think my parents were cruel, hospitals in the 70’s didn’t allow parents to stay with the children. I’m glad things have changed.
Thankfully, the hospital did try to make my new surroundings look inviting. All the boys and girls were in one large room, Curious George style. There was a lunch room and a play room with the largest toy box ever! A nice set up.
Every night though, the children cried for their parents. I’m guessing I did too. We would comfort each other. I remember some crying for a long time and it bothered me, but in the morning, things got better. Baths were pretty interesting, they had 2 story bathtubs…. I know that sounds strange, but they really did have 2 story bath tubs! To my disappoint I never got to bath in the “top bunk.”
I’m not sure how long I was in the hospital, I was just there for some testing, but it was long enough for me to plan my escape. One day I secretly watched as a nurse opened the latch on the gate. A little later I opened it only to have someone tattle… the nurse reprimanded me.
No problem. I had “Plan B.”
That night, while the children quieted down after a good cry and all the nurses had left the room, I crept out of bed.
Since I had already opened the latch once during the day I knew I could do it. Sure enough, it opened. Down the long dark hall I ran, toward the entry doors at the end of the corridor. There was one lit doorway on my way- the nurses station. I scooted past it and I remember thinking one nurse saw me…. I made it to the doors at the end of the hall, but found them locked. I tried another one or two but by then a nurse caught me and a few more came to help escort me back to my prison. I didn’t try escape again.
Honestly, it was good those doors were locked. What would have happened if I had gotten out? What was this little Mennonite girl thinking? I really thought I would walk back home. I have a feeling my memories could have been worse if I had escaped…
… it was bad enough that I had lost my nice kitty cat coloring book in the huge toy box.
On deeper reflection,
I guess I was unhappy and alone, and knew where I belonged. It drove me to desperate measures.
I was looking for the security it brought.
That was a long time ago. It’s interesting that after I grew older, how ready I was to leave home. I guess that’s a part of growing up. But the transition wouldn’t have been easy had I not had the love and security of the man I was to marry.
We, together made a new home.
Now I’m the mom, and my children are already old enough that they voluntarily leave to go on their own adventures. I miss them but I’m glad for the opportunities they have to spread their wings. And it warms my heart when they tell me they are homesick. (YES!) I hope that never changes, no matter how old they get. It’s my desire to make it a refuge, a safe place for our family, and a home for anyone who needs it.
This is what I’ve learned. Home isn’t just where you live, lots of people have very unhappy “homes.” It’s just a house with people in it.
“Home” is where people that love you live, whether they are your family or someone else.
And as Christians, doesn’t that make heaven sound glorious?
May you always have a “Home” to run to.