Ten days and nine nights spent sweeping west from Utah to Los Angeles and then down to Phoenix takes me through a family jungle. Sam and I went to Los Angeles to see our son, daughter-in-law and two granddaughters. All four of them are truly beautiful inside and out and now they have a new addition, a sweet two month old black puppy with mostly labrador retriever heritage. We took the puppy a gift, too.
It was a good trip. Seeing everyone is always good. The girls spend their weekends taking horse riding lessons and doing homework, so Sam and I watch them on horses and are quiet when they work on homework. We are absorbed as family members into a traveling unit of six to stables, ice cream stores, and when we give them spending money, Target. This time we were able to tag along as the oldest granddaughter visited several stables to find a new horse to train on. There’s a tremendous amount of love in that house, so I can easily rest that they are a loving family.
But I’ve noticed a few things over the years. I have all kinds of delusions about the easy familiarity of families that live say, within a fifty mile radius. I feel like I fall into my children’s lives for four days at a time like a small bomb that they see as needing direction and oversight. If we lived close enough for the girls to have spent time with us they would know what my cooking tastes like, that Sam is an artist, that we would always be the suckers to take them to the circus, or zoo and we would keep their favorite ice cream flavor in the freezer. But they don’t know those things and they are growing so fast, they may never know.
Just as selfishly, we are not part of their daily life that would let me hear a bit more about their friends and there never seems time or opportunity to sit around a table with just the parents or the children and hear a larger hint of what’s in their heart.
I purposely brought my son up to want to explore the world and move away, but did he have to do it so well? Couldn’t he have been a bit of a slacker? But, no, he grew into these adult man attitudes that make him the good husband and father he is, but I didn’t realize how his maturity and goodness would leave such a void in my life. This isn’t a complaint; it is a realization of full impact. Still, I wouldn’t change anything about any of them.
Next was the visit to my mother’s in Arizona. If Sam and I faded to our corner in the back of the eight passenger van in California, we became crowned royalty in Phoenix. We were served a four course home cooked meal the first night, treated to a dinner out at the country club the second night, and we picked the wine both nights. In the morning we slept in and were served homemade waffles for breakfast with fresh-picked grapefruit. We were squired around the valley to kitchy tourist traps, given free reign to wander at museums, and taken to Trader Joe’s. I lifted a finger by washing a few dishes and Sam changed a telephone hook-up.
Do we know anymore about each other like I would like to know about my son’s family? A little, yes. I know Mother is pleased with her life as it is now, she can eat like a horse and still be small, and she wants to be buried in Arizona not long before she is reborn in Africa where she will be an African flower expert. She knows about the changes Sam and I are facing.
Mother and I didn’t always get along. Years ago we had our mother-daughter tangles that were larger than anything I ever experienced with my son. Our disagreements are old and no longer important. The road trip was an observation point. Passing time does change viewpoints. I don’t understand all (maybe very much) of what I’m living around and in, but here’s to road trips to see the dear blood people.