by Andrea Powell, HPCCR Marketing Manager
What is home to you? Is it where you were born? Where you grew up? Or where you’ve lived the longest?
Or is home less of a place and more of a concept? Home could be wherever your spouse is. Or your children. Or your beloved pooch.
But it can be more complicated than that. Because often, it’s a combination of those things — places and people. That’s certainly the case for one of our patients, Zahyra Alvarez.
Zahyra was born in Honduras but came to the United States over 20 years ago with her husband and two children. They originally settled in California but they made their way to North Carolina and that’s where they’ve stayed.
Zahyra is 57 years old and Charlotte is home now. She lives with her daughter, Paola, and two adorable grandchildren. Her son is nearby in Salisbury and her sister is just up the road in Hendersonville.
But so many of her family are still in Honduras, including her mom whose 85th birthday is on Saturday. Zahyra is one of nine children (five girls, four boys) raised by this strong woman. NINE children and she did it all on her own. Not surprisingly, there will be a big birthday celebration to honor the matron of the family. In Honduras, of course.
Zahyra hasn’t been back to visit in almost two years, but she didn’t want to miss the festivities. It would be the first time in a while that all nine siblings would be together with their mother.
Making the trip is easier said than done, especially as a hospice patient. She recovered fairly well after recently having a kidney removed but her strength has been compromised. And she managed to catch pneumonia last week.
Then there’s the expense.
Flying internationally has never been cheap and when you have medical costs on top of everything else, money doesn’t exactly pop up from beneath couch cushions. Zahyra mentioned to her social worker, Allison, that she was planning to sell some crafts she’d made (she’s extremely creative) to raise money for airfare. But Allison had a better idea.
Allison suggested that HPCCR use the family fund to cover the cost of the tickets. The family fund is a reserve of money (funded largely by employee participation) used to help patients cover a particular cost that is extremely important. In the past we’ve used it for various reasons — winter clothing, a suit for a funeral, appliances, or bug extermination.
Zahyra’s daughter and eight-month-old granddaughter
This time we’re using it for tickets. Zahyra is leaving tomorrow, along with her sister, to fly to Honduras for two weeks to celebrate her mother’s birthday and spend time with her family. HPCCR is sending her “home”.
I use the quotations intentionally. Because after speaking with Zahyra, she made it clear that North Carolina is her physical home; she loves it here and told me that she doesn’t necessarily miss Honduras. But I can tell the old saying holds true for her: home is where the heart is. And here’s the rub. Her heart is with her family, but her family is in two separate places.
So she’s leaving home for “home”. Leaving her children and grandchildren in Charlotte for her mother and siblings in Honduras. And she’s doing it with a smile on her face and one of the most positive attitudes I’ve seen in any HPCCR patient.
When I asked Zahyra how she felt about everything coming together the way it did she told me, “Nothing is coincidence. I have angels because God has sent me a lot of them.” Many of those angels are in her hospice care team, the individuals who are making sure she’s in the best shape possible to travel. And certainly one of them is her social worker Allison, who erased the worry of raising money for two tickets to Central America.
As for the rest of the angels? May they stay close to Zahyra in every place she calls “home”, all the way until she reaches her heavenly one.