My parents are a big part of our daily life. Mom and I work in the same area of the hospital and, because we share the ups and downs that come with patient care, it’s her ear I turn to for advice and comfort. Dad is retired and has become our emergency go-to-guy. A kid is sick, one of them needs a ride to hockey, I’m going to be caught late at work – we can always count on my dad to be there. It really is a beautiful thing.
I know how good we have it, how lucky we are to live close to such loving support. (I even have fantastic in-laws that will drop everything to help us.) I know I have no grounds to complain. But just put yourself in my spoiled little shoes and try to imagine my shock and indignation last year when Mom and Dad announced they were planning a nine week trip through Australasia. Did you get that? NINE WEEKS!
Yes, I agree they have worked hard and deserve to enjoy the fruits of their labour. Yes, I know they love to travel and discover new cultures. But surely, the five weeks they were away last year on their cruise through the Baltic Sea to Russia was the maximum length of time they could possibly leave us alone with these children. It sounds very selfish, I know, but I wasn’t just thinking of myself. What about my sister and her three kids? They were being abandoned as well. You can see my point, I’m sure.
Well, I’m proud to say that we sucked it up and survived the nine long weeks. I managed to leave work early and get the boys to after school hockey practices. My husband took the days off when they were sick. We struggled but live to tell the tale… actually we didn’t struggle and that’s the real tale.
Those nine long weeks flew by. We exchanged e-mails every couple of days, we Skyped weekly. The boys knew their grandparents were away but they still were able to tell them about their hockey medals and show their loose teeth. The technology shrunk the void. We actually had to keep pulling out a globe to emphasize just how amazing it was that they were able to blow kisses to their Grandy and Grandpa in China from our couch.
When my parents returned this weekend, as much as they were suffering from jet lag, they were suffering from grandchildren deprivation more. So, with only a few hours of sleep under their belts they called us over for a visit. It was truly wonderful to see them after all this time and the sight of my boys wrapped in the arms of their kneeling grandparents is a keeper. Again, I know we are spoiled.
As we were ushered into the living room we were greeted by Bacon. A stuffed pig that rolls back and forth in gales of laughter when it senses someone nearby. Previously used in a back alley shop in Beijing to draw in tourists, it had earned a place in my parent’s luggage because they knew it would amuse the grandkids. And throughout the evening, as amazing as it was to be with Grandy and Grandpa again, the boys kept sneaking away to play with Bacon.
Over dinner we were regaled with anecdotes from three different continents and four different cruise ships and were bestowed wonderful treasures and art that had been collected along the way. The boys even received individualized hand carved jade stamps and inkpots that print their name in English and Chinese characters. So cool!
The evening overflowed with love and laughter and we drove home warm with the glow of family. I’m filled with pride when I think about my parents’ adventurous spirit that takes them away on these epic journeys and am thankful for their good health that has them planning the next one. We will continue to endure their long treks because our family is enriched by their experiences and, as my seven-year-old said first thing the next morning, “That pig is hilarious!”