Thursday, December 30, 2010


This morning, the time had come to part. If Ben Franklin's observation was correct about fish and visitors smelling after three days, we were the exception to that rule, for the visit of ten days absolutely flew by. Here are the stars of today's story:

Our youngest and our oldest and our only daughter, Susan

26 year old Justin, Susan's younger son

Ryan, soon to be 30, Susan's eldest
Ryan needed to be at the airport at 5 this morning, so we said our goodbyes last evening, just before midnight. He's a night owl, too.
We'd not seen him for a long time and who knows when we'll next be together? He's a journeyman carpenter and has the reputation of being a fine worker.....never late or sick or a laggard on the job. His boss phoned yesterday to assure himself that Ryan would be on the job next Monday. He's been missed.

Susan and Justin's flight was scheduled for 11, so we had time for breakfast together. When the luggage was stowed away and Justin and his wheelchair were situated in the car with Tim at the wheel, we lingered in the lobby, postponing the final farewell. I glanced over at Susan, and saw her dear face all crumpled in the anguish of the moment and of course water came to my own eyes. How difficult it is to let loved ones go, especially when the distance is far and visits are few and far between.

Our mother/daughter relationship has had its ups and downs and perhaps that adds a difficulty to the parting, when things have smoothed out, to let each other go. We both recovered and exchanged a hug. Sandy, covering the desk observed that not all mothers and daughters cry when they part and she found our scene particularly moving. Maybe it's just that we're wimpy. Do you s'pose?

Life hasn't been easy for Susan, raising two boys by herself in a place too far away for family to be of much physical help. This was a very special visit for us, especially at holiday time, to have the family together. We've had many years of lighting a candle at 9 on Christmas morning and thinking of each other in absentia.

The weather was unusually cold for Southern California (not for Alaskans, however), but I didn't feel right about standing at the door and merely waving goodbye to Justin, who continually reminds us how difficult goodbyes are for him, so out I went out to remind him to think happy thoughts and for the hundredth time to assure him that when the Lands End parcel arrives with an article of clothing for each of them, I'd hurry to the mailbox to forward it.

If only I knew how to place photos side by side, the way the one of the boys magically went together above. But I don't.

Now we await word that everyone has arrived safely in Anchorage where it's 24 degrees and dark as night.

It was fun. We got to know Ryan a little better, since we'd not been with him since we went north to see Justin graduate from high school........six, seven or perhaps eight years ago. He has an eye for photography which should be no surprise. He gave us permission to share some of his shots with you tomorrow.


  1. How bitter sweet visits and partings. We had our entire immediate family together for Christmas, as well, and it was tortuous taking the Denver contingency--including our magical 3 1/2 year old granddaughter--to the airport on Sunday. Since Anastasia and Tim are expecting twins in June, it will probably be many Christmases before they have the courage and stamina to haul three little ones to California. Bah, humbug.
    So nice you had time together.

  2. Edie in Indiana writes:

    I'm with Justin--I don't like goodbyes either. Very touching story. Makes
    me even more thankful that both of my girls live nearby.

  3. How beautiful for us to share this with you Jane. My Mom has always been local and i have never missed a Christmas with her. I have always been blessed. I love the wonderful times all of you shared this season. My Mom and i ....i have 2 other sisters, so Mom has a choice!!!! You have given the kids and your one and only daughter memories of a lifetime!

  4. Makes me sad, too. Lovely photos, Jane! I can relate, because I don't see my son often enough to suit me, either. I can also relate to the mother/daughter scenario. My mom and I weren't always so close, but in the last 20 years, we became extremely close, and I think of her every single day, and still miss her. I'm glad you got to see your family and enjoy each other. Here's hoping their travels are smooth and that they arrive home safely with beautiful memories to sustain them. Happy New Year!

  5. I can confirm that sad farewells are not just the province of Mothers and Daughters.
    I'm terrible at goodbyes too.

  6. What a wonderful way Yaa have with words, Miss Jane,
    A Super Sad but Happy Blog.
    From the Wrinklies to the Wobblies.
    Happy New year to Yaa Aal

  7. Oh, Jane! I know. I admire your Susan, and I'm so glad you all had a sweet visit together. Such memories! Hugs to you all. It's always hard to go from having each other around to not.

  8. susan writes: I think Oprah would qualify that as an ugly cry, which also means a genuine one. The 10 days sped by, and yes it was good to have my folks get to know my sons better. I am proud of all of them, brothers, parents, children. Ryan and Kristine met for the first time. Something beyond words to attend an AA meeting with all three of my offspring, Justin grumbled some. It was on Kristine's 28th birthday. I am continually amazed at life's blessings and miracles!