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Story ID:4345
Written by:Kathe M. Campbell (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Here There USA
Person:Me 'n Jamie
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Home Sweet Home
by Kathe Campbell

And here I thought my eighteen-year-old granddaughter had earned scholarships to play volleyball at her chosen college, but every time I answer my phone it's Jamie . . . . .

"Hi Gran, we lost our game again - I'm home for what's left of the weekend to hang out and ride my horse - just fun stuff!"

Whoops, seems like our darlin' is feeling a stressful obligation to fulfill her scholarships honorably and astutely, but is suffering in a blue funk. She's a mere 65 miles away from home with her over the minutes cell phone, her own car that's burning up the highway, and a hefty range of homesick emotions. Her parents have shown up for her games, picnics, and special events, and she's done all the right things by connecting well with her roommate, her volleyball team, professors and new friends. She eats and sleeps well, and though a couple hunky football players dog her every step, she longs for weekends at home with parents and pets, even her sisters.

All of this brought back my own sorrowful memories back in the dark ages, and I'm wondering if homing twinges are a kind of malady that pass down to generations. Oh I hope not, for I would feel terrible.

In 1939 my parents dropped me off at Brownie Scout Camp at age eight after much brochure reading and joyous anticipation. This city tomboy could hardly wait to be with friends in untried settings. The idea of exploring the great outdoors and filling my days with new adventures had me raring and ready to go. After all, I had survived sleepovers at numerous friend's homes, and several of us had slept under the stars in our back yard. My family and I had even visited the popular Girl Scout camp to take in afternoon water sports and Sunday evening vespers.

What seemed a long and boring summer, August and St. Albans finally arrived. Having read between suggested lines, mom packed a family photo and my stationery kit - should I feel moved to write home. I was an only child and she felt it important that something familiar greet me morning and evening. I could hardly wait to show off my Gypsy Tribe woodsy quarters on Parent's Sunday, but within two days, I was making a teary and panicky rescue call on the phone.

I know now this must have been hard for my poor parents. After all, it wasn't kindergarten with mom waving a tearful good-bye as we parted for the first time. She and dad knew that if given time, I would adjust just fine, a sort of early version of tough love. And yes, I adjusted for the better as my days overflowed with countless camp activities. I was so worn out after evening campfires and songs, I dropped into my sleeping bag a happy camper with few thoughts of home.

Separation anxiety from family is one of the strongest fears of childhood. Security and comfort dwell in all ages amongst girls and boys alike as great opportunities are greeted with excitement and fear, or both. Some first year campers view being sent away as a type of parental rejection. Even spending a week at grandma's can be devastating. Kids find it difficult to sleep and eat and sometimes engage in attention-getting behavior by starting trouble.

As a teen counselor at church camp some years later, I witnessed dusty, tear-stained faces on a few kids wallowing in sadness and depression. Sudden thoughts of my own gloomy days came flooding back and I felt such empathy. Despite family photos, or frequent calls home, the rest hour and lights out moments seemed to spawn headaches, tummy aches, and other physical excuses. Fortunately, the camp nurse and favorite counselors produced magical bright lights at the end of homesick tunnels. Sleep away camps, or retreats that pack a child's day with distracting fun see far less homesickness, though it will always be a sorrowful episode for some youngsters.

Just as I thought I had outgrown homing pangs, they have returned with bittersweet longings in my dotage since my husband died. My yen for home and all that's nostalgic and secure often leaves me a cranky old fussbudget. I merely thank my hosts and announce that after three days I begin to smell like dead fish while my baggage and I sprint for the nearest freight. How joyful it is to mosey back to familiar country surroundings after a big city shopping spree 800 miles away. Better yet, how joyful the thought that I won't have to leave home again for a long while.

Despite the beauty of new and different surroundings, the longing for my ranch and animals is overwhelming. I recently spent three eagerly awaited and fun-filled days with my Yellowstone family. Upon opening my front gate, the welcome and familiar sounds of all
who dwell here released a sea of joyful tears, even as a terrific blizzard hit.

Probably the worst homesick fear is imaginary. I quake at the thought of an illness that might leave me languishing in a hospital bed for days, even though I have help nearby. The very real sickness of leaving home would surely overshadow anything physical. As I have aged and had many stays away from my beloved things, putting feelings into perspective makes it some easier.

There is no medicinal cure for homesickness, it's not fatal, and thank goodness it usually doesn't last long. There are simple suggestions that help, and keeping busy is probably the best cure. Talking with friends or family helps, or writing exciting letters or a diary describing great new events. Even if a letter is not mailed, it reminds us of the fun we're having. Still I wonder how many nights I spent caressing a weepy-eyed Cub Scout at his first week long campout?

Being homesick isn't the best feeling, but it's the one that nearly everyone has experienced. Oddly enough, there is a good side to the unhappy predicament. It means we all have family and friends worth missing, and a place we want to return to when adventures away from home are over. Works for me - sorta!

A sorry looking Brownie Scout after a week at camp in 1939.
Jamie's official team photo, but dying to be home.