Two Thousand Miles


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?


10 responses »

  1. Oh, how sweet. We, too, live way too far away from grandparents. We see one set every year, but the others rely on the phone and internet for most of their staying in touch. This post made me homesick.

  2. So that’s where you’ve been!!! I was starting to wonder if you were taking another hiatus – again without asking permission 🙂

    We’re very blessed in this department since hubby’s parents live a scant 20 minutes from us, and my dad lives but 2 1/2 hours away. We’re surrounded by our sisters (aunts) and the lone brother-in-law (uncle) that see the kiddos every now & then. Of course, their lives are much too busy to stop by from time to time – and we keep telling them that they’re going to regret missing out on their neice & nephews at some point. But, I have to say that every now & then, it would be nice to not have family so close by – especially when they are a little too nosey for OUR own good! But, it’s a blessing – I keep telling myself that – when we need a quick (FREE) babysitter – or someone to take the kiddos for a night 🙂

  3. Re the Aerobed paragraph: Was it entertaining coz Paul was still sleeping on it? Or is it just the prankster in me that makes me think this way?

    Looks like you had a great time. Wish you more such times.

  4. We too live far away from our families, its hard, but we know that this is where God wants us at this point in our lives. Thankfully, my parents can’t seem to go more than six months without seeing our kids. I know that they’d like it to be less in between visits, but something is better than nothing.

    I’m just so blessed to have my parents be such wonderful grandparents to my children, and I can see that you are blessed the same way with yours. Glad that you enjoyed your visit…but you’re right, its always too short. Take care.

  5. first of all, great writing!! the flip book analogy was right on! I can completely relate, I’m in PA, my family is in MI, TN, GA and IL. I’m glad you had a great week all together! Great memories!

    (And I’m glad you’re back!)

  6. Katrina-
    You definitely touched a cord with me; Mom and Dad live in Oklahoma, and although Tennessee isn’t quite the distance between you and your folks, I miss them more and more as the years go by. The times we have together are precious, just like you and your family.

    And I readily identify with the Aerobed experience, excepting a partner to share it with, of course. Mom was so impressed when I blew it up with my hairdryer. 🙂

  7. I will not complain that my parents live 3 hours away in Washington anymore!

    Glad you had a great visit with family!

  8. *to make you jealous*

    I’m going to my dad’s for supper tonight, and Tomato’s first soccer game is on Saturday. Twice in one week I’ll see him. 🙂

    Since teaching my dad the art of WoW, we now visit in person more frequently. Odd how that works. 🙂 We’ve seen each other more in the last 3 months than we have in the last 3 years, even though he’s been “just down the road” the entire time.

    However, you did hit every single reason why I cannot move more than 8 hours (or a 1-hour flight!) from my mom. I don’t have kids, yet, but right now I don’t want her to miss MY moments… 😉

  9. As I see friends move away and we’re limited by miles, but not by technology, and when I have friends headed overseas to do missions in a land where we cannot know and will have limited access even via technology, it makes me look forward to the day when we will be reunited in Heaven and we won’t be in every corner of the earth!

  10. Your words stir in me and caused tears to well up…I’m married to a French man and have two children, we have lived in France for 18 years, my family lives in California. I know exactly what you are talking about, and the lines in between, and the small pearls in the crown.
    Like you said, “to meet to pop over for a bite to eat after church…”
    I savor my cafe au lait and sigh!

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