The long drive home

By Joanne Peterson | Jul 11, 2013

The drive home to Edmonds from northern Idaho took a long time.  Odd, isn’t it, how hours go quickly when you are headed toward a delightful time and slowly when that time is past?

Of course, headed east on a Thursday, traffic was light.  Homeward bound, driving west, way before I came to Cle Elum, traffic slowed to eight miles per hour for lengthy intervals.

The temperature outdoors was 102 degrees.  I couldn’t help but think of the years auto air conditioning was a concept I’d never heard of—when family trips in summertime meant all the windows down, hot air blasting in and out of the car, children sweating and peevish, parents no doubt wishing they’d never planned the trip.

I try to convince myself how fortunate I am that Annika lives only six hours or so away from me and that my other two grandchildren live less than 45 minutes away.

I have friends whose children and grandchildren live halfway across the United States or even halfway around the world, so I have nothing to complain about, really.

Watching up close as Adam (4) and Abby (2) grow is a total delight. (I believe I have mentioned this before, yes?)

Being away from fourth-grade nine-year-old Annika for several months is a scary proposition: Will she still hug me when she greets me? Will she have changed in many ways? Will she have a new best friend? A new kitten?  Is she still lamenting the end of volume nine of the Harry Potter series, with no more Potter books awaiting her?

I hadn’t been to Idaho since before Christmas. I don’t know what happened to my resolution to drive or fly over to see my son and family every two months; that used to be my goal, though it didn’t always work.

Actually, I do know what happened. As Annika and her mother become more involved in a variety of activities, they really don’t have much extra time. With 4-H (and Annika’s new lamb Hermione) added to the mix, their summer calendar is packed. My son Brad is gone for far more than 40 hours a week on his unpredictable railroad engineer schedule, so his “free time” is jammed, too.

I understand their busy-ness.

I notice that at this stage of my life, my own commitments become more flexible. As I did last week, I cancel activities and change plans if doing so means a chance to be with my children and grandchildren.

When I was in my 40s, as my children are now, the future seemed limitless. Now I know it is not.

I loved visiting Annika--playing games, hearing about her school year, watching her as she worked with her lamb or created art projects.  Yes, she had changed in some ways--more grown-up.

She still hugged me. She still talked to me about her feelings and plans. She wants to be a veterinarian.  And she’s re-reading the nine Harry Potter books. I miss that girl already.



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