This past Friday was even better than the usual end-of-week fiesta that it is, because my Dad and his wife were driving back from a trip to Alberta and stopped in for a few hours to visit and join us for dinner before heading home to Vancouver. Seeing them is always great, but they brought along a special treat. My sister Mel:
She’s the one sibling with whom I share the same Mom, and yet I haven’t seen her since all nine of us kids gathered at Dad’s house five years ago. We keep in touch, but with her in Ontario nowhere near Toronto and me in BC nowhere near Vancouver, it’s kind of hard to get the two of us together, never mind our two families. The kids don’t even remember that last visit, so they were pretty happy to get to know Auntie Mel a little bit. Especially Emily.
Between Auntie Mel and my Dad, Emily was pulling out all of her tricks. Songs and dances and skipping ropes and stories and toys and all the things. She was especially taken with Grandpa, and he obliged her by talking in the Donald Duck voice that he used to do for me when I was little. It never gets old.
After they’d left for the coast and we’d cleaned up dinner, I went to the office to check my email. She appeared in front of me a few minutes later with a big smile and watery eyes.
It was really nice to see Grandpa Al today.
I pulled her onto my lap and told her that if Grandpa Al lived closer, we’d see him more often. She knew that, but she needed to hear it again. She sees so many of her friends at school and at church who have grandparents who are involved, and she doesn’t have that. I confirmed his love for her, and reminded her of the older couples in our church who do pour into her, but there’s just something special about a Grandpa, you know?
I knew exactly where she was coming from, because I grew up on the north coast of B.C. and all of my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins were (are) in southern Ontario. I saw them once every few years and while I loved every minute of those visits, I sure felt that void when we returned home. I’ve always hoped that my kids would have grandparents nearby who loved on them the way most grandparents do. Trips to the park, ice cream dates, big Sunday dinners, time spent roughhousing in the yard.
They don’t have that. Between that fact and my own family history, I do everything that I can to love them as hard as I possibly can. They are the reason that I live with my heart walking outside of my body. They are the reason that I play catch even though I suck at baseball. They are the reason that I make pancakes and bacon on a Saturday morning before spending three hours at soccer. They are the reason that I’ve watched Transformers 217 times. They are the reason that I walk them to the bus stop every morning and pick them up after school even though I told them to catch the bus home as well. They are the reason that I never eat the last piece of anything, in case they want it. They are the reason that I laugh so hard, all the time.
They are the reason that we hiked up Giant’s Head Mountain yesterday afternoon, because they wanted to see the view again.
They are the reason that I cry whether I’m happy or sad. They are the reason that I love their Dad more that should be humanly possible, because they are flesh of both of our flesh, blood of both of our blood. They are the reason that I get to sit and cuddle on the couch, because it’s what Moms do. They are the reason that I will crank the music and have an after-dinner dance party in the great room. They are the reason that I aim for a healthier, more sustainable life, because I want to give them the best that I can. They are the reason that this introverted extrovert will talk to parents I don’t know, because my kids want to hang out with theirs. They are the reason that I make the choices I do, in almost all areas of my life.
I want them to see love in action and to have love and to know love and to feel loved. I’m sure that I fail, often, but I am giving it all that I’ve got.