We spent most of last week with Mark’s sister and her boyfriend as they came for a short visit here and then drove upstate to visit their dad. We joined them upstate over the weekend. The girls adore their aunt; she might very well be their favorite person in the world. Their relationship is quite special and she and I were talking wistfully about a time in the not too distant future when the girls might get too old to come running into her arms. Their time together is always full of energy, laughter, hugs and at any given time, at least one of the girls climbing into her lap or clutched in an embrace. In 6 or so years they’ll be more interested in hanging out with their friends than they are with family. I was a kid once, I remember.
It’s hard having family 3000 miles away though we do a pretty good job of keeping in touch via various channels. It’s why our annual trips to Seattle are so important. I’m an aunt too, to my brother’s 2 young kids who live out in California, but our relationship is not as effortless. I hope that changes sometime soon though. It’s strange to have family out there that you don’t really know too well yet. I just wish that we could all be together more often and that distance, time or money wasn’t such an obstacle.
Our trips upstate to visit Mark’s dad are always wrought with all kinds of feelings. Even though its only a 4-5 hour car trip away, mentally and emotionally it often feels like a bigger trip than our west coast ones. It’s been a difficult 2 years of being in and out of hospitals. Right now he is in a nursing home. Nobody wants to say it out loud, but nursing homes are sad places. Maybe they don’t have to be, but in this situation it’s kind of sad. The visits themselves are good usually, but it makes you think head on about the past, the present situation, and also the future. His dad said something this visit about how he never imagined he’d be in this situation 5, 10 years ago. It was a wistful statement filled with some regret, but also of acceptance on a certain level. Sitting on the edge of that bed in the nursing home watching the girls read their books squeezed side by side in an arm chair in the corner of the room, I thought about the fact that someday we will be old too. That is still a ways away, but it’s hard sometimes not to look into the future when you are dealing with what you always thought was the future right now in the present.