After a week of visiting me and my sister, Amber, here on the edge of the Northwest wilderness, my parents are back on a plane today, bound for their home in Georgia.
Living across the country from your family is hard. It’s even harder on grandparents, I would imagine. Life speeds across months and years like a roadrunner leaping over desert rocks, and kids grow up in the spaces between visits, rendering glimpses of them into a flip-book effect of accelerated development—learning to walk, losing that first tooth, joining the high school yearbook staff, graduating from college. Experiences tumble over each other like dominoes, fleeting and unstoppable, never to be recaptured except in pictures and shared stories, passed along like jewels in the family crown.
I comfort my mom (and myself) with words about how much smaller the world is now. At least, I say, we’re not living in pioneer times, when a daughter could board a wagon train to the West with her young family, never to be heard from again, except in occasional letters, letters which took long, tedious weeks to travel back across the long miles to eagerly waiting hands. I have only to pick up the phone, send off an email, post a photo, or start up Instant Messenger to share the minutiae of life on this frontier. And yet, even while I’m talking, we both know it’s not quite as good as popping over for a bite to eat after church, or having round-the-clock access to their son-in-law’s computer expertise, or sharing spontaneous summer picnics with all the grandparents together. Short of winning the lottery and bribing my entire extended family to relocate to the Northwest, these things are out of reach in this world. I thank God for the next one!
Among the jewels in this week’s crown were these moments:
*Caleb bursting into the bedroom where Grandpa and Grandma were staying to yell, “Good morning! RISE AND SHINE!” He spent a lot of time jumping on the bed, a thrill he is not normally allowed (but what are grandparents for, if not to bend the rules a little?)
*Smushing all the grandparents, Amber, the kids, and Paul and I into our tiny living room to share pizza and watch “King Kong” together.
*Taking Mom and Dad geocaching along the lake, enjoying the splendor of the view, and finally finding the tiny, elusive microcache hidden on the Longest Floating Boardwalk in the World. (Hint: think Velcro…)
*Sitting in on the Family Foundations Marriage Seminar that my parents teach and praying that 23 years from now will find Paul and me still as much in love as they are.
*Sleeping on the Aerobed in the living room with Paul. This was not as great a hardship as you might believe. We stayed up late, talking and reading and watching movies, and in the morning I got to pull the plug on the bed and enjoy the simple pleasure of hearing all the air whoosh out. (What can I say? I’m easy to entertain.)
*Eating at Tomato Street, one of our favorite restaurants. The kids got to color on the tablecloth and I got a hot, steaming bowl of my favorite Tomato Basil Soup, as well as a fresh, crusty loaf of French bread to dip into it. Food does not get much better than that, my friends.
*Sitting around the table at our apartment after dinner with the whole family, laughing and telling funny stories about our childhoods, until we had to quiet down for fear of giving Katie and Caleb any ideas.
Obviously, it was a wonderful week, filled with all the best kinds of fun. My only regret is that it was over much too quickly. So, in honor of my Southern heritage, I’d just like to say:
Y’all come back now, y’hear?