Far From Home
Newt’s Notes Column, April 7, 2003
Dorothy clicked her ruby-red shoes together while chanting a familiar phrase over and over again near the end of The Wizard of Oz and people have been repeating it ever since.
“There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.”
She wanted to be home more than anything else in the world. I mean, with that green lady and a gang of fruit-slinging trees after you, wouldn’t you want to be home?
In the real world, the desire to be home with one’s family became especially important following the events of Sept. 11, which had thousands, if not tens of thousands, of Americans everywhere repeating that phrase and returning home to the comfort of loved ones and friends.
I was acting editor at the newspaper that fateful day while Les Cockrell and his wife vacationed in Colorado – not too far from home, but far enough. After receiving the news and a couple of phone calls from loved ones, Les and his wife figured there was no better place to be than home, so they drove straight back.
I can’t even imagine how they felt. I was fortunate to have my family close by during that time.
Nobody likes to be away from home when a national crisis strikes – especially if the distance between you and home is measured in thousands of miles, not hundreds.
On March 30, a group of British citizens were left feeling far from home when they learned of the death of the beloved Queen Mother. Widowed for more than 50 years by King George IV, Elizabeth the elder was a figurehead of all that was right with the monarchy.
Gentle and kind, she was loved by people around the world – especially by her loyal subjects in the British empire. That made her death hard to bear (even harder for her many admirers who were far from home).
News of the royal death hit Grapevine’s British Emporium store’s staff and friends hard that Saturday, putting a bit of a damper on the store’s grand re-opening celebration.
“It just made me really, really sad,” said Sheela Kadam, one of the store’s owners and a native of England. “The Queen Mother was really one of the most beloved members of the royal family – very much everybody’s favorite grandmother in England. … [The news] has left the British community here very sad.”
Ms. Kadam, who has been in Texas over 10 years, said it is very tough to be overseas when news strikes.
“It just brings it home to you just how far away you are from your home when something like this happens,” she said. “When you hear bad news from England, I think your first reaction is that you want to go back there to grieve and mourn.”
But she pointed out that it is so hard for British citizens to just jump on a plane and go home whenever bad news strikes. So the British Emporium makes a perfect gathering place for Britons during this time.
There is even a condolences book at the store for people to sign, which will be sent to Queen Elizabeth II. It will be available through next Sunday, Ms. Kadam said.
Off the top of my head, I can think of business owners here in Grapevine that hail from several different countries, including France (Main Street Bread Baking Company), Germany (Breadhaus), and Oklahoma (just kidding about that one).
It is tough enough to adapt to a foreign culture, much less be there when news breaks back home.
Ms. Kadam said the toughest adjustment she had to make when she came to the United States was being separated from her own family when she started a family here.
“In a personal way, it’s hard to be away from family when you have kids,” she said. “Because you don’t have your parents around the corner, your friends or your relatives.”
I think that place called “home” is a shelter from the storm. It is a place where family and/or friends are and the surrounding is familiar. Home for me will always be in the presence of my family.
Home is a place where a person can cast aside their false fronts of independence and be a son, or daughter, or grandchild, or true friend. It is a place where we can kick off our emotional shoes and put our feet on the couch.
Home is a place where loved ones currently are and already-loved ones can come to be loved all the more.
“Home” may be an ideal to many of us, but it is an ideal that each one of us desperately needs during certain times in our lives, like times of international, national or personal crisis. We need that place to grieve, be comforted, be protected, or be reassured.
The older I get the more I understand that Dorothy was right on the money. There is no place like home.