I recently returned from a glorious summertime stint with my family, immediate, original and extended. After bouncing in and out of each other’s lives for a solid month, it was hard for all of us to part. But part we did, and for most of us it was done on the back deck of a houseboat as one family after another loaded their bags into the speedboat to be ferried back to the dock, where they then packed their cars and headed for home. Just after breakfast on a Friday, we smothered my sister Allison and her family in hugs and kisses as they made their way to the back of the houseboat. Her husband Steven lifted first little Eric and then four year old Evie over the railing where Allison waited with open arms in the red boat which was laden down with coolers, suitcases and beach bags filled with almost-empty bottles of sunscreen. Steven coaxed, and then finally hefted, their 3 year old golden retriever, Birdie, onto the boat before jumping on himself. My dad gave us the ok to shove them off and we stood there, waving on the back of the houseboat, until we couldn’t see them anymore. It’s our tradition, you see, when leaving each other, to wave until the departing party is out of sight. No matter where we are and no matter how long it takes.
As I watched my mom, who had devoted so much of herself into creating this time together, I saw the beauty of motherhood written in her face. As she wiped a few tears from her eyes, I caught a glimpse first of love and then care, concern, a bit of longing, and finally resolve to send Alli off, knowing we would be waving her our love for as long as we could. I also saw a measure of peace in those wise eyes of my mama, knowing, despite her longing for them, that she had loved them and enjoyed the time she had with them as much as she could. I am beginning to appreciate how much motherhood is a series of such departures as independence beckons children away a small step at a time.
And as for Allison, she made it home safely and you’ll have the chance to meet her later this week because she’s got some beautiful ideas to share.
Until next time,