Today, a Carly Simon lyric is running through my head non-stop: “Anticipation is makin’ me late, is keepin’ me waitin’.” I am trying to be patient, but suppressing excitement about my trip to New York just makes time drag more: November 17th is only two days away, but I feel like a little girl holding her breath on Christmas Eve. I simply cannot wait to board the express train that will whisk me away to a weekend of “quality time” with my son and daughter-in-law and, best of all, my four-month-old grandson, whom I have not seen since his naming ceremony. Executing the move to Maryland from California, all in the space of four weeks, made grandmotherly visits impossible.
Although I get regular videos and we Face time as well, it’s not the same as cuddling him up and inhaling the sweet scent of baby. It’s not the same as being there real-time for his first smiles and giggles, for his first determined roll front to back, or for singing him lullabies. It’s simply isn’t the same kind of magic.
This beautiful little boy was one of my main motivations for moving East. Being close to him gives me the chance to love and be loved by the next generation of my family. My son has suggested that we plan to get together every six weeks, which will be the most frequently I’ve seen him since he went off to college. I am eagerly anticipating this kind of time spent together–ah, there’s that word again!
Our reasons for moving to Maryland were multifaceted, but the most important one was the prospect of rediscovering and enriching our family connections. That opportunity is quickly becoming reality. Just a few weeks ago, Brad’s clan came to carve Halloween pumpkins with us, and this year our Thanksgiving table will be lively with banter once more.
I now spend time with my sister, Joy, every weekend, rather than only once a year: we take her Joy Ride out for sunset “cocktail cruises,” concoct and savor leisurely suppers, and chat away every other Saturday afternoon with joint mani/pedis. I anticipate that we will soon be having long talks hunkered down in front of the fire, as the weather here has finally got a bite to it and both our boats are in dry-dock. Margaret Mead said: “Sister is probably the most competitive relationship within the family, but once the sisters are grown, it becomes the strongest relationship.” That’s what has happened to us. With both competition and distance out the window, affection floods back in like sunshine.
As a sixty-four year old sister, mother and “Nana,” I have a lot for which to be grateful. Some of my childhood was twisted by anxiety and sadness, but now, as I bask in the arms of a family where love abounds, I feel fortunate indeed. Family is the place where life itself begins. Family is where we learn how to grow and maintain close relationships–even if sometimes interruptions break the unique sort of intimacy it can afford us. But, if we are both lucky and diligent, family is also the place where love never ends, regardless of how complicated it may be along the way.
And so, with Carly’s song powering through my mind like a waterfall, I belt out the last lines and do not care if someone should overhear me. “These are the good old days. These are the good old days.” I welcome this particular refrain, through and through.