Archive for Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Stillness around house says grandkids have left

October 15, 2008

The house is blissfully quiet once the children and grandchildren have gone after a weeklong visit, but there is something – a sadness, almost, that lingers in the air. Oh, it’s not really a sadness, perhaps, but just a sort of vacancy.

What’s absent is the sense of pulsating life that comes from having young children around, as they race pell-mell from exploration to escapade. When that is gone and the only pulsating left is your own, it seems pretty inadequate.

It’s been a busy week. Our youngest daughter and her husband and young son (at 15 months, our youngest grandchild) arrived from their home in Virginia a little over a week ago. They came back, among other things, so that she could attend a wedding of one of her childhood friends. They were joined on Saturday by our other daughter and her husband and son and daughter (ages 12 and 11), who drove up from Wichita.

Once your flock has fledged and flown, it can be a challenge to keep up with all the changes in their lives. The older daughter moved to Virginia to attend graduate school several years ago before her children started school, so for the longest time we only saw them once or twice a year.

We were happy last year when she moved back to Wichita, but, within a few months, the younger daughter announced they were moving back East. Previously they lived in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, which, although not close, is only about a six-hour drive. Of course what really made the difference as far as her mother was concerned was that she took the baby with her. Since they made the move, we’ve managed about one trip back there every three months or so.

So it was great this past week to be able to catch up with the baby’s development. He walks – actually, it more closely resembles a drunken stagger, as he sort of lurches first one way and then the next, with his feet churning to catch up with the rest of his body – and he vocalizes a lot, although it’s hard to identify any of what comes out of his mouth as language. He has an irrepressible smile and, depending on his attitude of the moment favors one parent or the other. Sometime he’s the spitting image of his dad, other times he looks just like his mother.

The week’s visit culminated Sunday in what has become our annual family excursion to Worlds of Fun. It was hard to tell who enjoyed the outing more, the kids or the youngest son-in-law. Adam’s an engineer and although he’s approaching 30, he retains a teenager’s zest for roller coasters and thrill rides. The older two kids latched onto him and the rest of us just tried to keep up.

I have one photo that pretty much sums up the day. Adam and Noah, the oldest grandson, are racing go-karts, cheek by jowl to use a racing phrase, both intent on the task at hand, their faces suffused with the joy of the contest. There’s another, as their boat (if that’s the term) starts its downward plunge on the flume ride, the sort of water roller coaster. Myra and Noah clutch the sides of the boat, while Adam raises his hands in the air, screaming in delight.

But today, they’re gone. The wife’s at work and the house is silent, just me and the cat and the background hum of appliances and so forth. One of the aphorisms or maxims of grandparenthood is that you like to see your grandchildren come and then you really like to see them go, meaning that, as much as you like seeing them, it’s a relief when they leave and life can return to its more measured, quieter pace. I guess that’s true enough, but right now it sure seems awful quiet in here.

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