Sunday, July 24, 2011

Moon River, Family Vacations, and Me

I learned as a child that family holidays always end with a good cry. I'm certain that it was my Auntie Bev who started the tradition of crying after we had visited with her and Uncle Doug each summer. I remember being a kid and wondering what the hell she was crying about as we hugged her, said goodbye, and hopped into our car for our long journey home. Now I get it.

Yesterday marked the end of the first "family" vacation with my side of the family in well over a decade. I was so happy to spend a week with Soul Mate, my Dad, my Baby Sister, Her Soul Mate, their two little boys, and for the first few days of the week, our own First Born and Yoga Kid. On Monday, two sets of surrogate aunts and uncles joined us for a couple of days. The weather cooperated as best it could, despite a soggy beginning last Saturday. The meals were major productions, but delicious. Every seafood dish imaginable, and decadent desserts to boot. We had plenty of bonding, boating, hula hooping, and not quite enough book reading. Perched at the edge of the ocean, the setting could not have been better, with the luxurious beach house exceeding all expectations. 

So what could possibly have been missing? Well, Soul Mate and I have two other children with spouses and three grandchildren (combined) who would surely have added some fun into the mix. Baby Sister's first born daughter and son were sorely missed. But I have to say, although I am more used to missing her in April and May (see blog posts from those months if you can handle pain) and at Christmas, this family occasion really found me missing my mother. Deeply missing her. Part of it, I am sure, was that in enjoying my wee nephews as much as I did, I couldn't help but think how much my Mom would love to know them. And how much she would love to see my Baby Sister, who although still slightly neurotic in some ways (did somebody say shopping?) is incredibly grown up and happy. She would have loved seeing my girls interact with their aunt after years of estrangement. For certain, Mom would have loved being by the sea with all of us. But she wasn't, and I felt it. Baby Sister and I both cried the other evening as we sat around playing cards and the song Moon River came up on the iPod stereo playlist. Mom loved Andy Williams, and especially that song. We didn't interrupt the game to speak of our feelings, in fact we never spoke about those mother missing feelings together at all this week (I'm always game, she - not so much). But we felt the heartbreaking loss at the same time, to the same tune.

I surprised myself when I actually didn't cry yesterday when Baby Sister and family drove off. I'd cried a little the night before, just thinking about it. I did cry a little bit today, after I dropped Dad off at the airport and watched the back of his now slight frame heading through the airport doors. He's eighty, and I worry about how many more flights in and out of my life he will make. I've cried a little bit more on this beautiful Sunday afternoon, not even sure why. Don't know who or what I might be missing.  

I also cried yesterday when I learned that Amy Winehouse died, most likely from a drug overdose. Those particular tears were of sadness for her and for her family, but they were mingled with tears of gratitude. I am so grateful that I have been given the gift of recovery from the fatal disease of addiction. Happy that Baby Sister has too.

Perhaps I am just feeling a bit off because I have to go back to work tomorrow. Or maybe it is because I have my usual six-month cancer check up tests this week and I always turn a bit crazy around test time. Maybe I am just tired. Whatever it is, I'll just feel my way through it. It'll pass. I'll feel happy enough in a day or two. Joyous in a couple more. Grateful through each and every hour and day. Hopeful in every minute, as long as I remember to feel hope.

But for now, I know how Auntie Bev felt, when we all packed into our car and drove away, not knowing when we would all be together again. When Dad arrives in Toronto tonight, he'll be picking up his car from her house and driving it back to his house a couple of hours away. I wonder if she will cry, when she says goodbye.


  1. Saying good-bye rots. I have had to bury two younger sibs in the last three years so the idea of Aunts not seeing their nephews again is a very real touchpoint for my family right now. Crying has defined me for the last three dozen months. Even in the throes of the worst sorrow I am always thankful for the sobriety which allows me to truly feel these emotions.

  2. Oh, Lynda. How heartbreaking. Much love...

  3. I'm sorry for your tears. Happy for your insights. Grateful for that video of Andy Williams. Man oh man the sound of his voice brings back memories. Very positive memories that were buried so deep I had almost forgotten them.
    Thank you.

  4. Amazing how music can transport us to our past, isn't it June? I am glad that the memories that were stirred up were good ones...