Wednesday, March 4, 2009

No Regrets

My senior year of high school I went over to my grandparents' house (they lived across the street from my high school) everyday for lunch. I didn't have a class the period right after lunch, but I did have Physics the class period after that. Driving home was too far and so I'd go have lunch, visit with my grandparents, my grandfather mostly since he ran a camera repair business out of his home, and would then take a quick power nap before heading back to school. The following fall I went off to college. While I came back to town a couple of weekends and was able to see him, he ended up dying a month into my freshman year of college. I have always been thankful for that time I spent with him that final year of his life.

I moved back to my hometown seven years after I left it. I saw my family (my parents, siblings, and grandmother) fairly regularly. In 2005 when I had my daughter I started making it a point to spend more time with my family, with the time spent with my grandfather always in my mind. I started taking my daughter (as an infant) over to my grandmother's one day each week. I did the same with my parents. Since we lived in the same city I wanted my children to have a close relationship with my family. And they do. I still go over weekly, sometimes more than that, to visit my now 80 year old grandmother. Due to injury my mother is still here in town (my father accepted a job in DC and left in January. My mother was supposed to leave then too, but broke her foot two days before) so I try to take advantage of the time she is here and take my kids up once a week to see her as well.

I don't really know where I am going with this post except to say that I think if my parents or grandmother were to die tomorrow I would not have any regrets about time spent with them. I know once my mom leaves for DC we will see her less as we obviously now see my father less. Great distances have a tendency to do that. I just want/need to feel like I have done everything and made the most of the time when we live close so that I won't regret it if they were gone...not spending more time with them...and so that my kids never feel cheated or feel like they didn't get to know or spend enough time with their grandparents.

I think one of the follies of youth is that we think we will have forever and then one day we wake up and we are in our thirties with children of our own and realize, "Man, my parents are getting old." While it is not always the most convenient thing to traipse small kids across town for a visit I am glad I make time to do it because my children love it....and so do my parents and grandmother.


Nancy said...

You are so fortunate to have your grandparents and parents near you - and alive!
My father's parents both died very young and my parents married when they were in their late 30s early 40s, so my mother's mother was the only grandparents alive! She died when I was 3 but I remember her.
My mother died when I was 27 and I know my sisters feel that loss every day just like I do. I've had alot of "mother substitutes" over these 22(!) years but they have their own families to mother.
My son had my father to bond with while he was growing up though and they have good memories of that.

Robyn said...

Nothing is worse than regret. I think you're doing the right thing by your parents, grandmother AND your children. More people need to be less worried about "convenience" when it comes to keeping their family close.

Joanne said...

I agree with Robyn, you're doing the right thing by your family. A little effort builds such history and a bond so that when there is distance between you, your relationship is sustained by that strength.

Kathy said...

For most of my early adult life, my family lived within a couple hours driving distance of each other. We got together for most holidays and always for birthdays. When my girls were small, they spent a a lot of time with their Meemaw. Then I moved oh so far away and so did my brother for a while. I recall such a longing during those years to be there for those family celebrations and was a bit jealous of my sister who got to still spend time with our Mom.

Now that all of us are again within driving distance, I've been catching up for time missed. There are plenty of other ways to spend my weekends, but this is the most precious to me. My new nephew will grow up as fast as my own daughters did and my mom will continue to age gracefully whether I take time to visit or not. Now that all of us are into late middle age, the notion that every day is a gift begins to sink in even more.

You're doing more for your children than you realize right now. I know that the time my daughters spent with their Meemaw has been a major factor in their character today. Even now (at ages 19, 21, 24) they enjoy spending time with her and hearing her stories. It's sad to me that so many people lose the opportunity for this rich family history passed down through storytelling.

Emerald said...

What a wonderful daughter you are. I know your grandmother and mother must be thrilled with your efforts. While I never lived close to my grandparents I loved speaking to them via phone. And our in person visits were oh so sweet.

Emerald said...

What a wonderful thing you are doing for your family. I never lived close to my grandparents but I cherished the times we did spend together. They loved me no matter what.