Something that has always troubled me is the physical distance between myself and my grown daughters. Each one of them, as soon as they were able, left our quiet little town in the dust in their rear view mirror and found their life elsewhere. (One has since returned, now that she has children and finds that small-town atmosphere nice for raising them. Yay!)
One went off to join the Navy and saw the world before she met her husband (also Navy) and had three wonderful children before settling in Pensacola.
One went off to learn about the world of environmental education and had gigs on the shore of Maine, on an island in Puget Sound, and finally in the high desert around Lake Tahoe before settling for her family home in Reno.
One went off to discover the mysteries of spun sugar and the chemistry of baking, and is now a pastry chef in Asheville, in the Smoky Mountains.
All are too far away.
When daughter #3 announced she was going to visit daughter #2 in Florida, the rest of us began to conspire to join them. We hadn’t all been together in the same place in perhaps ten or twelve years, and I couldn’t see waiting another ten for them all to come home. So we did it.
We cooked together; Kim and her partner Lexi made their professional-grade coffeecake, Beth’s husband George made biscuits from scratch while Donna made sausage gravy, we made vegetable salad and fruit salad, and Megan taught us all how to whizz up healthy fruit/veggie smoothies for breakfast.
We went to the white sand beach of Pensacola, and the Black Water River State Park. The kids loved both places–well, except for the one-year-old, who decided sand and wind were not to her liking. Period.
Or grass in the yard either, for that matter.
But the best part of all was when we could just sit around and talk. We remembered old times, we shared new times. The girls talked about issues they had with their children and I got to sit back and laugh because they’d gotten babies just like themselves. We got what we’ve missed for years–intimacy and love. Social media, Skype, all that does replace it in some way, but it’s just not the same as hearing your child’s voice at your shoulder and feeling them in your arms, even if they’re grown-up and mothers themselves now.
It was the sort of opportunity that doesn’t come around often enough in life for most of us, and I am so glad I seized it. Carpe diem, as Mr. Keating says in Dead Poets Society. You never know what’s going to happen next. Illness, accident, some horrible tragedy like what hit Boston this week–we all have to sift through our busy, overcrowded lives and discover what truly matters to us, then hold on with the 2,000-lb. jaw grip of an alligator until we make it our own.
You know the characters we love are those who are most tenacious, who prize family relationships, who look out for one another and care for each other. Why should our personal lives be any different?
Who are you missing at this time in your life? Can you make a plan to get together–hopefully soon? Don’t wait for that chance to pass you by, and love will be your reward!