Last week I shared the first couple of days of our vacation in Alabama with my daughter’s family. Well, it just kept getting better. Full sized trains at the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum on Wednesday and family at home day on Thanksgiving Thursday of course with a meal that could have served us three times over (kudos to the ladies who worked so hard to prepare the turkey and all, and I do mean ALL of the trimmings from casseroles to desserts); I know I felt more stuffed than that turkey did.
On Friday it was Meema and Pop-Pop’s special omelets for breakfast and then the nearly 10,000 acre Oak Mountain State Park to check out the campground, and play in the day use playground on the mountain-high slide and teach the grandkids how to swing (kick the sky – kick your butt, forward – back, “Push me harder!”, “I going high Pop-Pop!”). About 3:00 we decided it was time for lunch and lil’C insisted on Moe’s, not just Mexican, but specifically Moe’s (she loves the quesadillas)! When we got home it was “after work with Daddy time” and Thanksgiving leftovers for late dinner. And of course every evening was liberally sprinkled with games and stories and night-night kisses and prayers and a little adult conversation.
Saturday was a tough day, goodbye day, and everyone knew it. Right from the start even the babies were subdued, sensing what was to come. They stretched out breakfast, we stood around and talked, and sat and talked some more while the kids played out in the playroom and drew with stencils at the dining table and coffee table. We had a quick leftover lunch and then briefly checked out a neighborhood where they were thinking about buying/building a house. A quiet conversation about our real estate business, and then we couldn’t linger anymore. It was time to go.
How do you say goodbye? Even with FaceTime and Skype and Facebook and the phone the parting and wondering when we’ll be with each other again is agonizing. And then Meema finally said that she guessed we’d better go, and Pop-Pop agreed, and that got the goodbyes rolling. First the grandkids with kisses and hugs and hanging on for dear life; then the kids and more of the same. A final scratch behind that big lovable black lab’s ears and we turned toward the door, headed out and climbed into ‘the Beast’, adjusted ourselves, tooted the horn, and pulled slowly away. And that old familiar throat tightening, eyes reddening sensation; the pain of separation, welling up once again. And once again we drove away into our separate lives.
How do you express to your children how pleased you are with the way they’re living their lives and raising their children and at the same time express to them how much you miss being more a part of their lives? How whether they live two or two thousand miles away their presence and absence are so deeply felt? How you wonder how quickly the pain will subside before you can feel and enjoy the happiness found in the memories of your time together? How thankful you are for the time you have with them?
You hope and pray they see it in your face because sometimes the words don’t come. You hope and pray they’ve stored up those memories and you have too, enough of them to fill the emptiness before you’re together again.
Love is impossibly wonderful and almost, but not quite, impossibly hard. And it is always; always worth the cost.
Still giving thanks, for every precious minute of time we’re given…Pops