I continue to prepare my suitcase and my spirit for my seven-week stay in California. I'm leaving in a few days and learn that my daughter will have begun a ten-day business trip to Hong Kong. She is gone when I get there. And my son-in-law in recovering from surgery. The learning curve is steep, but what doesn’t kill ya….yada.
They do not want to kill me, offering me time off when D. works from home or when a sitter is contracted to fill in once a week. As days pass and D. gets stronger, we become a well-oiled partnership sharing shopping, laundry and lunch boxes for camp. Baths are my favorite time of day. Well, to be honest, I just feel so privileged to be involved in my grandkids life in such an intimate way. Loving the most ordinary of chores, the breakfasts, wiping sticky faces, the afternoon sprinkler in the yard. And the family hikes. I am sustained by early morning hugs, adorable comments to stitch, gorgeous California sunshine. I love hearing their tiny voices call me “Savta”.
After about a week, my s-i-l notices that my tolerance for loud sounds has improved. I am fitting in…and hanging in. I get my stride. I know what foods they like and more importantly, what they don’t like. I’m stepping over train tracks (and not tripping) in the dark when someone wakes at night. I know where to find the diaper wipes, the sunscreen, what to pack in the stroller for the park. By the time my daughter returns from Hong Kong, our routine is humming. At the end of seven weeks, I feel I could tackle anything. D. confirms that I have made it through ‘bootcamp’.
(Every day I stitch a small remembrance when the world goes silent.)
The California family unit was in Tel Aviv until three years ago. I had made five visits over nine years, even staying a month in a flat, when my first grandson was born. Because of my daughter’s long labor, he is only two hours old when I arrive. I am grateful to have been in Tel Aviv when she went into labor the second time. I miss the arrival of the third as they plan their trip back to the states. But I have also missed countless birthdays and other life events because distance is the norm.
Their move to California seems like a dream, with only five hours and three time zones between us. But things get interesting again when my younger daughter, who is living in Boston (same time zone/one two hour flight) meets and marries a South African.
As the days draw closer to my return home, my heart starts its all-too-familiar ache. Parting for long periods, and the time and effort it takes to assuage the longing multiplies, because this is starting to feel normal. I am tired of living so far from my children.
This is the point at which my next adventure begins, when I decided to keep notes and report how someone goes across the world to be just around the corner. To not have to wait until the day before a flight to say, "See you tomorrow" . As Sammy says, "Savta takes three planes," this time to South Africa, and I want to savor every moment of my stay.