Thursday, October 15, 2009

Here and Gone

Something wonderful happened to us this weekend.
Both of our sons were at our house with their families.
One was in town for a wedding, and the other came for a family celebration on his wife’s side. I think they both made the trip to see each other, too.
And us, even.
They say you spend the first couple of years of a child’s life trying to get him to walk and talk. Then you spend the next few years begging them to sit down and be a little more quiet.
It’s kind of the same after they’ve grown up.
We all, I think, want our kids to eventually leave the nest. It’s the right way to feel, as we pray our children will embark on meaningful, interesting, love-filled, independent lives of their own. But, here’s where the conundrum occurs:
As soon as they’re gone, we want them back.
What’s more, that feeling is multiplied by a factor of about a zillion when grandchildren come into the equation.
When we know they are coming, our existence is suddenly shoved into an exhausting overdrive mode that finds us (especially grandma) trying to clean, dust, scrub and buff our digs into a place more suited for a visit by, say, the Queen of England, rather than the same sons who made it their job to more or less trash the place for the first 18 years of their lives. I found myself begging Editor Mike Landis for late-night sports assignments in the days right before the visit, hoping to dodge some portion of the nocturnal cleanfest, while knowing full well that a few chores would remain mine and mine alone.
But getting ready for an anticipated visit is a lot like getting ready for Christmas:
You’re never quite done. You just run out of time.
And that’s OK, because the visit--not the preparation--is the thing. Plus, I’ve yet to see either of my daughters-in-law run a white glove over the top of the refrigerator, nor did I spy my youngest grandson critically examining the shine on the kitchen floor while he was playing with his Batmobile.
“Gee, grandma, are you sure you’re using a floor product that truly polishes while it cleans?”
No, he didn’t say that. But he did say “grandpa” for the very first time, which was quite a marvelous high point for yours truly.
Of course, the weekend went quickly, with lots to do and talk about.
And then, quite suddenly, they were all gone again.
This big old house is a great place for families, with a kitchen that bursts with life, talk and the preparation for happy family meals. There’s lots of room to get together, along with nooks and crannies for those requiring a little quiet time, a book, or a nap, even.
But it can be a little empty when there are no toys underfoot, no items of clothing on every hook and flat surface, and no running feet or balls bouncing through the living room. The gallons of whole milk will be replaced by a quart of skim that often lasts a week or more. We’ll buy or bake bread weekly, instead of daily, and sometimes skip meals altogether when it seems silly to cook for two ships that often just pass in the night. But mostly, life will resume a pace and volume we’ve become more accustomed to. Busy, yes, but quieter, too.
Our sons live over 1600 miles apart. We’re somewhere in the middle. Someday, perhaps, we’ll be closer to one or the other, or maybe both if changes in life, circumstance and location allow it. Right now, though, we know we need to be content knowing they’re happy, with wonderful wives, loving families and interesting careers.
So, we cherish the days, hours and moments when we’re together.
And we miss you when we’re not.

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