A few days ago, I boarded a flight to St. Louis to visit my son who had recently moved there for his job.  As I sat in my seat, a white-haired lady walked down the aisle of the plane, and she had a big smile on her face, like she was glad to see me.  Her shirt was a light denim blue and it had little rhinestones in vertical lines, like sparkly tear drops, and her slacks were summer white.  She reminded me of a family friend.

She sat down next to me and told me her name was Martha and she had been visiting her daughter and grandchildren in DC for the past two weeks, but was headed home now to Missouri.  She lived on an 18-acre farm just south of Cape Girardeau and was going to meet her nephew at the airport there who would then drive her a couple of hours south to get her home.  From what she told me, she had great family support and her face so was beautiful that it just lit up when she smiled.  She had a magical glow to her and it was a joy to be in her company.

After being in the air for an hour, she told me her husband had died last year and they had been married 64 years.  She said that he had died suddenly and you could tell she was trying her best to stay cheerful even at the thought of losing him.  She loved him deeply and the loss was still raw and tender. I told her I understood, because my husband had also passed away 22 years ago this July.  While our life circumstances are very different — after all, she had been married longer than I have been living — we were both widows and shared that common bond.

Then she started talking to me about her life now and how she felt.  She said that being a widow for her was like being “homesick,” because she missed him so much and just wanted him to come home.  To see him again, hear his voice, cook him dinner, and in her heart she kept waiting for him to return.

And then she said she had lost a daughter recently too.  She told me she had lots of friends, but many were gone now.  She told me her family had mentioned her leaving the farm, since she was now out in the country by herself, but she said she wasn’t ready.  To her, she was home, and this was where she belonged.  I told her it was okay to stay there and also fine to leave if she wanted to.  She had a sharp mind and was in good health, but then again, I’m sure her daughters worried about her being alone.

I remember my mother once telling me how stressful it was getting old, because over time you watch all your friends die. So I nodded my head to let her know that I understood what she was saying.  What a great description she gave regarding the feeling of losing a loved one; she really nailed it for me.

“Homesick” — yes, that is a good way to describe it and if you have ever been away at camp and suffered from it as a kid you know what I mean.  She was right, this is how it feels, because you miss your family so much that you just want to go back home.  That longing to be home and be together makes an aching pain in the pit of your heart.

So now I too find myself looking back on the days we had, celebrating summer when the kids were little and all the family fun that comes with the season.   We would go to the beach, or the pool or camping out or fishing.   Visit grandma and grandpa (who are now gone) and it was a wonderful time and we had so much fun just being together.

That time in my life is gone now, and what I am grateful for are many precious memories. We can’t go back in time, but it’s okay if you find yourself feeling a little homesick this summer.


Luellen Hoffman

Luellen Hoffman was an adjunct professor at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia and has a successful career in the Washington, DC area. She has won top awards and recognitions from, VNU/Nielsen Business Media for her outstanding people and communication skills. Hoffman is a feature writer of a children’s column with a Chicago based magazine for over fifteen years and is a feature writer for "The New Barker" magazine in Tampa, Florida. She also created an equestrian scholarship at Dartmouth College in 2002. Her husband Michael died unexpectedly in 1994 which led her to write the book “Special Dream” and share her experience of a Special Dream in hope of reaching out to others who may be have had this same unique experience. She has two sons, enjoys art, music, and sports. Luellen appeared on the radio show “Healing the Grieving Heart” with Dr. Gloria & Dr. Heidi Horsley to discuss “Continuing Bonds Through Albums and Stories.”

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