Last February, I went to Berlin to visit Alpha daughter and her family who were living there for a year. Berlin was cold, gray and dreary, but the visit was a dazzlingly bright time. There was a special warmth in spending a week with my daughter and her family and feeling their "thank you" for making the trip to see them when they were so far from home.
Last week, I went to Amsterdam to spend time with Uber son and his family, who were visiting that city for five days. This was more complicated than a simple visit to a daughter living abroad. Uber son was there on business and the host company had agreed to bring his wife and three children along. My son would be free two of the four days. I volunteered to hook up with them in Amsterdam, in part to be a pair of helping hands on the two days my son had to work, but also to see the city [never been there], be energized by a mid-winter get-away and spend time with Uber son and family [they live in a U.S. city far from mine]. And, as in Berlin, Amsterdam was gray and winter-dreary in late January but I never felt the cold.
On this trip, I was--for my Grands and daughter-in-law--the familiar face in a city where the language is different [we may have high school French or Spanish tucked into the recesses of our brains, but not Dutch], the food unfamiliar [though the Dutch penchant for pannekoeken--pancakes--was easy to adopt] and many of the amusements on an adult level [the infamous red light district, Dutch history musems, a 17th century synagogue]. But, when my son went off to his meetings, my daughter-in-law, my three Grands and I explored the zoo, its aquarium and butterfly room. The whole family went off to the Van Gogh Museum where we got audio guides and the older kids [8 and 10] loved hearing about the painter's life story and learning how his art went from the dark of the Potato Eaters to the brilliant golden hues of the Sunflower paintings. We took the canal boat tour and for dinner one night, everyone was game to try rijsttafel--I appointed myself Assistant Chief Taster to make sure the different Indonesian dishes my Grands put on their plates of rice weren't too spicy for them. And I babysat the one evening my son and daughter-in-law went to a business dinner.
I loved seeing Amsterdam. Even in the winter, it is a walkable and easy to visit city. I got to do some things on my own and many things with my son's family. But most of all, there is a special warmth in being there for your grown child and his family--and to share in the wonder of their family life. You feel it, and so do they.