"Remember those news clips of the Beatles landing in the US in '64--the crowds going crazy, jumping up and down?" This is the question Alpha Daughter poses to Paterfamilias. It is also her report on the reception I received when I arrived in Berlin a few weeks ago to visit her and her family. My Grand--her 8-year-old daughter--was jumping up and down and shouting cheers of welcome when I was spotted coming into the international baggage claim area--separated from the waiting crowd by a huge glass wall.
There's April in Paris (chestnuts in blossom), and then there's February in Berlin (Lindens without leaves). It may not have the same zing to it, but I'll take Berlin. When your grown child and her family live in a city far from you--even if it's only for a year--that city can be infused with warmth and joy. It wasn't just the immediate reception. It lasted throughout the week-long visit. The pleasure of the visit was blending into their day to day lives--meeting Frau Shroeder [my Grand's teacher], taking my Grandpup and Grand for walks around Lake Schlachtensee to feed the ducks, riding the S-Bahn train through the Grunewald forest, having coffee at a cafe in Zohlendorf, meeting my daughter's friends and colleagues. One day we were a little more ambitious and tried to see the Collection of Classical Antiquities at the Pergamon Museum, but the line was so long on a Saturday afternoon--even though this is not tourist season--that we had to give up on it.
And then the week was up, and it was time to go home. Berlin may be gray and chilly in February but I remember it for the warm tug of being pulled into the life of my grown child and her family. I don't think I've ever felt quite so wanted--and appreciated for making the trek. Grown children are independent adults leading lives on their own course. But sometimes they need us.