I Wanted To Go Home


During the winter of 1982 I suffered a stroke and spent an extended period in the Portland VA Hospital. After a few days in a room alone a Marine who was half my age – not yet 20 – with cancer joined me. We hit it off like father and son. We laughed so loud and so long the head nurse threatened to separate us if we didn’t hold the noise down.

Weeks passed and eventually I learned he was an ace at 8-ball (pool). The only way to get to the day room was by going outside, but we weren’t allowed outside in our pajamas. Eventually, we learned that by using three elevators and going through the mental ward we could reach our destination. But he would not budge until he had his cowboy boots and Stetson. A kindly orderly fetched these things from storage and he was good to go. Indeed, with robe flowing he cleaned everyone’s plow. He was an ace.

He wanted me to take him to downtown Portland, and I agreed to do that. On a quiet Friday night we slipped down to storage where he picked the lock and found his duds. The following afternoon, Saturday, I was going to take him downtown, in spite of my uneasiness that his strength might wane.

Then Saturday morning my doctor released me, said I could go home. He pleaded to give him just an hour, but I hadn’t been home for a long time and I turned him down.

A few weeks passed and I drove the 107 miles back to Portland to make good my promise, but he was gone. Nobody knew where they’d taken him.

I returned home and began calling VA Hospitals, starting on the west coast. I think I found him in New York. They delivered my message and he responded with a letter that could have been written by someone in their 90s. A week or so later he was gone.

I missed my chance. I’ve carried that regret for more than 30 years and I’ve vowed never to let this happen again.

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/sorry-im-busy/”>Sorry, I’m Busy</a>

9 thoughts on “I Wanted To Go Home

  1. Oh Scott, your story touches the heart. We have ALL done this in one way or another, and I thank you for being brave enough to share yours. There is a line in a Woody Allen movie…I think “A Midsummer’s dream”, and Woody say’s ” There is nothing so sad as a missed opportunity “. The ” line” touches my heart as yours does. The word of encouragement I might offer, is God knows your “heart”, saw you make the drive, heard you make the calls. He knows, and He will make all things right:) God bless you Scott for your tenderness towards your fellow man and veteran. You have a BIG heart and it overflows from your story.

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  2. Thank you, Scott. We really have all walked this street at some time in our life. Perhaps it’s Gods way of waking us up, giving us the call to act, to respond when he calls us? I agree with Denise. The young man knows the regret, but also understands the circumstances.

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  3. Scott says:

    Barb had a seizure during the wee hours Saturday morning. Called 911 and got it handled. Late Tuesday I drove her to ER because she said she thought her heart was racing and the BP machine was erratic. Her BP was 78 and pulse was jumping from 60 to 80 BPM. I sat in ER with her from 10:30 PM to 0500 the following morning. Yesterday afternoon her cardiologist said it was a med reaction, and changed it. I think we are getting this handled.

    Pretty scary stuff for folks like me who know so little about what’s going on and have to depend on other people’s knowledge.

    I’ll be back posting after the stormy weather past. 😳

    Thanks to everyone for prayers and caring. They are working. 😄


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