Papa Ed, Wivian

Departure Day

Nothing has been more healing to me this past week than to see Sean interact with my parents. He simply adores them. And the feeling, of course, is mutual. Whereas I shaved about 20 years off their lives back in the 70s, he has added that many years and more back, just in the past week. He makes them laugh, and to hear the three of them giggling together, all caught up in some private joke, is a joyful noise.

I did not grow up with grandparents. Regrettably. And I guess we all want for our children that which we did not have ourselves. To see his eyes light up when my dad walks into the room or to watch him maneuver to sit next to my mother or hold her hand has blessed me and filled me beyond what I could describe here.

Yesterday morning at breakfast, my mother mentioned something about when they would be leaving, and no kidding, in mid-bite Sean dropped his fork to his plate. He could not believe his ears. He was incredulous. “You can’t leave!” he gasped in disbelief. “You can’t go!” He searched all the faces at the table for someone who would tell him it wasn’t so. It had not occurred to him that they would ever leave.

Last night after Antique Daddy had bathed and dressed him for bed, he scampered up the stairs to jump into bed between them to tell them goodnight. Papa Ed tells it that Wivian suggested to him that she might just take him home in her suitcase. “Okay!” he exclaimed. And then he sprang out of bed, dumped all of Papa Ed’s clothes out of his suitcase and onto the floor, tucked himself inside and pulled the lid shut. Then he popped open the lid like a jack-in-the-box and announced victoriously, “See!? I fit!” As if that sealed the deal.

Then, in the middle of the night, I awoke to the sound of teeny tiny jingle bells – the familiar sound of Mr. Monkey accompanied by Sean, both stealing up the stairs to the room where my parents sleep.

“Sean!” I whispered in my stern mommy voice from the bottom of the stairs, “Get down here! What are you doing? It’s 4am.” He whispered back in a little boy way that is not really a whisper, “Oh, I was just going upstairs to look at Wivian.”

The image of him kneeling beside the bed, gazing upon the form of my sleeping mother made my heart stop. And in that split second of frozen eternity I allowed myself to wonder what he will remember of her. Maybe nothing more than looking upon the shadow and line of her face in the transparent moonlight as she slept. Maybe only that she adored him. And that would be enough.

Departure day is upon us and it is going to be a sad, sad day all around.

And let me tell you, there’s going to be an airport-style baggage check too.

38 thoughts on “Departure Day

  1. OH AM! I loved my maternal grandparents just like that. You’ve got me crying in the office, here. Every goodbye was a heartbreak for me and every hello – mmmm! My cousins and I have discussed how it never even occured to us to disobey at MommyMoore’s house. We loved her so much. PoppyMoore let each one of us sit on his lap in the VW Bus and drive (those were the days!) and help in his garden. My kids have not had that heritage and it makes me so sad. I want to be a MommyMoore to my grandkids – but I’m going to be called Ya-Ya (from My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding), I’ve already decided and announced it. Thanks for sharing this tender moment with us.

  2. Oh, you bring tears to my eyes. I too, was cheated of grandparents. Watching my son interact with my father brings the same sort of joy and ache to my heart.

    What a beautiful, and beautifully written, story.

  3. This really brought tears…My grandparents are more dear to me than anyone else in the world – I wonder all the time about my kids growing up so far away from theirs, because that relationship is such a treasure and a gift. How tender that Sean already feels that bond. Priceless. And it will be amazing how much he will remember about Wivian – I remember very small details about my grandparents’ homes, their smiles, the things they said, way I made them laugh…I think when your heart is involved, all your senses are magnified and things are left indelibly in memory. This is a beautiful post, even with the sad good-bye.

  4. I’m happy that Sean gets to have a taste of loving grandparents. Some things in life are just too sweet to miss. I always regretted not having grandparents who wanted me around them. THAT did nothing to help the old self-esteem, let me tell you.

    I hope you let Sean continue up those stairs this morning. The last look always means so much.

    I suggest McDonald’s for Sean, Chocolate Fudge ice cream for you and plenty of kleenex for the two of you to share.

  5. I think the greatest blessing of my life is watching how much joy my child brings to my parents. It’s a gift.

    I got a little teary when I got to the part about Sean wanting to watch Wivian. Too sweet.

  6. Oh let him go with them! (If they are willing that is:) Someday he will have to go to school all day long five days a week to prepare for silly things like the TAKS test. These are the magic years! Stow away Sean and don’t let them find you!

    I used to try to hide in my grandparents back seat when they left. I never got away with it.

  7. Try to think of it this way; if they lived closer their time with him might not be as special. Because he can’t see them all the time he is grateful for the time he does have with them, and doesn’t take it for granted–thus the 4 AM visit to their room.

    Did you let him go watch her?

    I think a curl up on the couch w/ice cream and a good movie is in order for the two of you. Lots of snuggling required.

  8. I, too, was cheated out of grandparents and unfortunately my children have been, as well. (Well, my kids were 5 & 18 mos when my mom passed away, and my dad was gone before they ever arrived.)

    I’m so glad you’re all enjoying each other so. There’s nothing better in the world.

  9. What a beautiful love. My paternal grandma died when I was four. I have vague memories of her, because we lived very far away, but they’re all pleasant ones. I know your son is very blessed, and Wivian too, I’m sure. I hope they both get the gift of time to let their relationship grow.

  10. I do believe you just yanked out a part of my heart. But it wasn’t an essential part, apparently, because everything seems to be functioning fine.

    Of all the blessings of motherhood, the unconditional adoration (and no, that’s not too strong a word – because that’s exactly what it is) between A. and his grandparents is one of the very biggest.

    I’m just so grateful that they’ve all had the chance to know and love each other.

  11. That is unbearably touching. I did not have grandparents either and my children adore my parents too, who live very far away. I can understand your feelings about the whole issue.

    He’s lucky to have such wonderful grandparents.

  12. This is so very poignant; it brought tears to my eyes. I live on the west coast and my parents on the east, and they are in their mid-70s. So when Baby arrives, visits will be infrequent and thus so precious.

  13. I too absolutely melt at seeing my kids interact with my parents. My children are blessed with a “Nana and Papa” who are the definition of doting. Your Sean is truly blessed to be actively loved by so many family members.

  14. Nothing brings you to your emotional knees like the connnection between your parents and your children.
    Beautiful, beautiful.
    Praying for the departure. It will be rough.
    Put a picture of them in his room. Also, FYI, when we lived away from my parents, my little one kept a photocopy of their picture in his pocket. He would get it out and look it all day long.

  15. I was blessed to live in the same town with both sets of grandparents all of my growing up years. And it doesn’t matter HOW much time you have with them–it is NEVER enough. ๐Ÿ™‚ So hug your boy from all of us, and Wivian too, ’cause even though she will be happy to get back to her own home, it will be horribly empty and quiet.

  16. What a beautiful post. I too, relish the time that The Boy gets to spend with his grandparents. I was fortunate to grow up with 3 grandparents alive — all of whom have passed, but not until I reached “adult hood.” I was lucky enough to have one Grandma with me until I was 32 — just six weeks before The Boy was born, in fact. Many people suggested that the only thing that kept her alive at the end was the wish to see my son (even though she already had oodles of great grankids). I was lucky alright… sigh…. now I’m going to go have a good cry…

  17. You know…I don’t doubt that Sean will remember your parents, but surely the memories will fade slightly at the edges over time. Do you think you could get your parents to write down impressions and stories involving things they have done with Sean over the years? Maybe put them into a scrapbook with pictures…but with a lot of narration. Then…when they’re gone, there will be this record (in their words) of the times they had together. Videos are great and certainly superior to the Super 8s we grew up with, but words are forever.

  18. I grew up with my grandmother and it was a wonderful (for the most part ;-)) relationship. We lived too far away for my kids to have a real close relationship with my mom. Whenever my kids have kids, I want to make sure I have a close, close relationship with my grandkids. I want to video myself reading books to them so they can play them when I’m not there… and then, when I AM there, they will at least recognize me for who I am!

  19. What a touching post, AM!! Loved every word of it. My parents live in the same town as we do, so my girls see them almost every day and have a very close bond with them. For that I am grateful because my husband’s mother passed away before they were born and his father has never been a part of our life, so my parents are the only grandparents they have. My husband and I have been married for almost 21 years and I have never even met his father. He is unaware of the wonderful man his son has grown up to be and he is missing out on knowing his granddaughters too. What a shame.

  20. As a grandmother myself (they call me MeMe), I loved this story. My grandkids always make me feel special and it means the world to me. Thanks for a wonderful tribute to grandparents.

  21. I lost my dad two years ago, and my heart breaks that my five-year-old son is growing up without his grandpa. My dad loved his grandkids more than anything in the universe. They were just babies when he died, and he would have been so proud to see the little boys that they’ve become. Soccer season has started, and I wish that dad was here to watch my little guy run up and down the field, to give him advice and teach him about sports. He would have been so proud.

  22. So sweet it brought tears to my eyes. What a wonderful boy you have – and what wonderful parents to capture his heart so completely. Hugs to all on your sad departure day.

  23. such a beautiful relationship they have… and it makes it even more special that you have written about it in such a loving way… I know you parents and Sean will treasure your words for years to come.

  24. such a beautiful post, it brought tears to my eye. I’m a new reader and have been enjoying it for several days, you write beautifully. Looking forward to tomorrow.

  25. I had grandparents but not grandparents that cared an iota about me. Now I’m a first-time grandparent. When I die, my grandchildren will remember me the way Sean is going to remember his. Thank you for this. I’m a little teary eyed, but thank you.

  26. Ironically, I have much sharper childhood memories of the grandparents I rarely saw and hardly any of the grandparents whose house I practically lived at because my mother worked when I was young. Because I only saw my paternal grandparents every few years, the visits made much more of an impression. Also, my paternal grandma was so much fun! We dressed up and played Barbies and made limeade. With my maternal grandma (whom I did get to know much better when I was an adult), I visited the “old ladies” as we called them: my grandparents’ cousins and aunts and mothers. Not as much fun, although I do have some good memories from those times, too.

    The part about Sean wanting to watch Wivian made me cry! I do remember feeling that way as a child. And I hope my grandchildren feel that way about me someday.

  27. I also did not have the joy of relationship with grandparents. Now that I have the privilege of being “grandma” it is one of the joys of my life. Thanks for a nice post. I’m glad I located your blog again. You are so funny and I love to laugh!

  28. My daughter also loves, loves, loves both sets of grandparents. She has missed them terribly since we moved to Germany. Something that helps so much to keep her in contact with them is a webcam. Every so often we call my in-laws and we both put on the webcams. She can actually see them, not just talk to them, which is so much more concrete for a 4-year-old! (Lots of silly faces and laughing ensue!) She can even see their dogs, whom she adores.

    Perhaps you already do this with Sean and your parents, but if you don’t, it might be worth it to set your parents up with what they need to do this.

    And…what a beautiful post. Brought tears to my eyes and reminded me of my daughter’s lit up face as she RUNS to hug her Grandma or Grammy. How blessed we are.

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