You Can't Go Home Again

by VivaLasViejas Guide

5,312 Views | 10 Comments

I'd been promising my former co-workers for two years that I'd stop by the old nursing home to see everybody and say Hi. Yet I hadn't, even though I went by there at least twice a month and waved as I drove past, saying "Hi, Mariah!" "Hi, Terri!" "Hi, Brenda!" and mentally running down the list of friends I'd made during my tenure there. Here's why these things never work out the way you expect when you finally stop talking about it and just DO it.

  1. 18

    You Can't Go Home Again

    It was just an ancient nursing home, with Vander lifts parked in the too-narrow hallways and the hustle and bustle of staff members on their way to answer the constant shrieks of tab alarms. Located on top of what must be the biggest ant hill this side of the Rockies, it was utilitarian and built for efficiency, not looks, although the powers that be kept trying to improve it by installing hardwood floors and elegant lighting systems in the hallways. I tried telling them once that it was pretty much like putting a Ferrari engine in a Honda, but of course that suggestion fell on deaf ears.

    I'd worked at Shady Acres for almost three years, however, and as happy as I was with the job I have now, I still missed the camaraderie between the staff members, residents, and even management of this place. This was a facility where you would see the DNS working the floor, the resident care manager passing meds, the administrator running out to buy Popsicles for everyone on a 100-degree day, the dietary manager helping to pass trays in the dining room. In other words, the teamwork was the best I've seen anywhere, and I'd figured on staying there for the rest of my career.

    Alas, fate intervened in the form of a floor career-ending injury to my left knee which required surgery. At the same time, a new company had taken over, staff cuts had begun, and I noticed the fact that most of the available hours were going to younger, faster nurses. By the time I was finally laid off, my confidence was shot and I was faced with being unemployed in an economy that was not at all kind to the over-50 crowd.

    Still, I never blamed the facility for my misfortune. Management had been good to me up until the day they let me go, and my co-workers were the best ever......so I made the promise to visit as soon as I got settled in at a new job and update everyone on where I'd landed. In the meantime, we kept up through Facebook and bumped into one another in town on occasion, and for a long time it was enough.

    But the idea of visiting my old 'home away from home' stayed with me. Out of all the places I've worked in my career, Shady Acres was the one where I'd truly felt at home, and a part of me still yearned to be part of the team again despite my contentment with my current job. So why was I so hesitant to actually go there??

    Last Wednesday, I found out.

    I figured there was no better time to do what I'd been promising my friends for months and months, and stopped in after a doctor's appointment. I'd lost weight, had my hair colored and styled, and was in high spirits thanks to a new medication that had kicked the last of my winter depression to the curb. I pulled into the employee parking lot and went in through the back door, just as I had in the old days; of course, I was spotted almost immediately, and it seemed as if the next hour was spent being hugged and squeezed.

    Yes, the gang had missed me. Several of them asked when I was coming back; others were curious about my "new" position (I've been there 2 1/2 years) and wanted to know what I did and where I was doing it. Almost to a person, they were complimentary about my appearance and demeanor, noting that they'd never seen me as happy as I seemed to be at that moment.

    Yet something was very, very different. The place, the people, the residents all looked pretty much the same as when I'd left them......it was I who had moved on. As much as I'd missed this old nursing home, as much as I'd wished I could work with this splendid team again, I didn't belong here any more. I hadn't known it then, but when those doors had shut behind me back in summer of 2010, they'd closed forever.....I was now firmly ensconced and comfortable in my nurse/administrator position, and even if I hadn't been, I was no longer part of Shady Acres.

    Of course, all these folks are my friends and will always be, and doubtless I'll stop in again for some chatter, a few hugs, a laugh or two. But as my parents' generation used to say, "you can't go home again"......and the place I once called my home away from home, wlll never be home to me again.

    And that's OK.
    Last edit by Joe V on Mar 11, '13
    SoldierNurse22, BluePotion, Esme12, and 15 others like this.
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  4. About VivaLasViejas

    VivaLasViejas joined Sep '02 - from 'The Great Northwest'. Age: 55 VivaLasViejas has '17' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'LTC, assisted living, geriatrics, psych'. Posts: 24,763 Likes: 34,236; Learn more about VivaLasViejas by visiting their allnursesPage

    10 Comments so far...

  5. 5
    My first nursing job is the only one I can honestly say I loved. I loved that place. I, and half a dozen new grads started at the same time. We were as close as sisters sharing every facet of our new nursing careers. Then there were the "old timers" who taught us how to be nurses. We all eventually moved to new areas. I visited once, and it made me sad. Everything was the same, and nothing was the same. I'd changed, not the facility. Most of the "old timers" were still there. But they see so many new nurses come and go. I know I didn't have the same impact on them that they had on me.
    You really can't go home.

    Kinda on the same note. When my husband and I married, we traded my "single" car off to buy the family car. I missed that car so much. It was part of my transition from girl to woman with all the memories that entailed
    My husband surprised me one day several months later. He'd seen my old car on the same car lot, brought it home, and would have agreed to buy it back if I'd wanted it. I took a drive and the memories were bittersweet. My car was a little older. Had a few more miles on her, but was basically the same.
    It was me who'd changed. We took the car back, and I cried. It's always sad when you transition from one place to another.
    Home just becomes a different place.
    tnmarie, Altra, VickyRN, and 2 others like this.
  6. 4
    Quote from imintrouble

    Kinda on the same note. When my husband and I married, we traded my "single" car off to buy the family car. I missed that car so much. It was part of my transition from girl to woman with all the memories that entailed
    My husband surprised me one day several months later. He'd seen my old car on the same car lot, brought it home, and would have agreed to buy it back if I'd wanted it. I took a drive and the memories were bittersweet. My car was a little older. Had a few more miles on her, but was basically the same.
    It was me who'd changed. We took the car back, and I cried. It's always sad when you transition from one place to another.
    Home just becomes a different place.
    That is so sweet that he'd do that =). That's how you know he's a keeper!

    Good article, and so true. I haven't yet had the chance to experience this in nursing, but I've experienced it in other aspects of my life. Even things that weren't necessarily the best, you get nostalgic for them when you're doing something you really love doing, surrounded by people who make every day brighter. That stuff sticks with you.
    Esme12, joanna73, VivaLasViejas, and 1 other like this.
  7. 2
    Very good article. I worked for a short time as an LPN in a nursing home and it made me appreciate those nurses so much more!!

    Also...wanted to say that when I read SHADY ACRES...the first thing that came to my head was "SHADY PINES MA!" from Golden Girls
    nikkidevries and VivaLasViejas like this.
  8. 1
    That's what I was thinking, too.
    Esme12 likes this.
  9. 3
    Oh you've given me goose bumps - the story could have been mine. I started in a run down old building just as you describe with the constant attempts to modernize. I was a mere 19 year old LPN. The first couple of years we gained a group of about 6 of us - all young - all green as grass. There were a couple of older nurses and one "mean ole" medical records lady who were the crusty old bats of the facility. Somewhere along the way those crusty old bats slowly molded the six of us into crusty old bats as well and this team managed to stay together for nearly FIFTEEN years. The crusty old bats retired and that group of young LPN's turned into mostly management RN's and even one administrator. Within a span of 5 years every one of us have left for bigger and better opportunities. I drive by that old facility and will always remember it as home. It was truely the house that built me into what I am today....or rather it was those crusty old bats that did it.

    We are still a family. Always wishing we could get together more often but generally only making it to weddings and funerals. The day of that "mean ole" medical records lady's funeral sat a huge bouquet of white carnations with 6 red roses. After 15 years together, she had become the Mom to that young group of nurses. Home is really in the heart - not in old walls.
    imintrouble, tnmarie, and VivaLasViejas like this.
  10. 2
    Beautifully stated, Nascar.....you could've written this piece better than I did.
    nikkidevries and Nascar nurse like this.
  11. 3
    You can't go home again, true. And sometimes you never find "home" to begin with...

    Great article though :-)
  12. 0
    I had a job I loved, still cry about it time to time. Somethings you can't get used too.
  13. 1
    One day when I was feeling regretful about becoming a nurse, wishing for the easy days of my old job, I stopped by the office where I used to work. My old boss offered to rehire me on the spot and for awhile I thought about it. Then I realized how far I've come since becoming a nurse, how much that old comfortable job would bore me to death. While I appreciated the offer, I turned it down. As I continue in my current position, I become more and more comfortable and have realized that my regrets were based in fear of the unknown. You put my thoughts perfectly in this article.
    VivaLasViejas likes this.


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