A friend recently returned from Denmark where she spent 10 days with her daughter and granddaughter who've lived outside Copenhagen for nearly 17 years. It was a pleasant visit, she reports. She saw her granddaughter act in a play, and the three of them went to Amsterdam for a look at the tulips. She and her daughter got along better than they usually do--they see each other two or three times a year--and she felt a special closeness to her teenage granddaughter.
My friend is not the sentimental type. That's why it surprised her when she started weeping when it came time to say goodbye. "I had such an empty feeling," she says.
I know. When my daughter lived on the West coast--in the other Washington--I used to sob in the back of the taxi as the driver raced me to the airport and my flight back east. My daughter and my baby granddaughter were thriving, so why was I blubbering? Empty feeling? Yes. Plus a regret that she lived so far away and I couldn't be there if she needed my help.
And when my son came to visit with his family of five, I could not keep my chin from quivering as I watched them load my youngest grandchild's trike into the back of the van and back their car down my driveway for their 7-hour drive home.
It's not just a female thing. The other day Paterfamilias had a farewell "moment" (non-blubber style) when his teenage granddaughter left for the airport after a three-day visit. Then there's this full-on emotional response a Canadian father wrote about his son's departure after a week-long visit.
I am standing at the curb as his car pulls away, tires crunching on the snow. His winter-battered car with ruby tail lights goes down to the end of the block to a cul-de-sac, swings around and comes back toward me. As he goes by, I slowly turn to wave at this one-man parade. I am silently saying goodbye. See ya’ soon. Safe journeys. The street light overhead fortunately doesn’t reveal the tears in my eyes, nor can it possibly reveal the less-tangible gap where loneliness is now in permanent residence.
.... I glance up and down the city block on which I have lived for more than 30 years. I have no idea why it seems so empty. Winter has turned the trickle of tears on my cheeks to a tiny frozen stream.
Is this the other side of the mansplaining coin? I tear-up every time I read it. All of us who have children who live far from us miss the daily or weekly get-together with our children and their children--be it tea, lunch or Sunday dinner. Or just a drop-by. Skype is nice but it's not the same.