A Weekend to Remember
I sit on the porch and look across the ever-growing grass at the hills beyond. The sun is warming the cool late summer morning. Labor Day has broken. It used to be the last hurrah before school began. In the past few years, it was simply the first break after a month of classes. With COVID, “hybrid” courses and virtual learning I’m not even sure what it means now. Academia has now caught up with the rest of the world in struggling to find the “new normal.”
This year the weekend has been very special indeed. My grown kids returned home. It is the first time I have seen any of them since an early March ski trip in which we were one step ahead of the lock-down as they closed up the mountain and shut down the town, nipping at our heels as we left Utah. It was our last outing together for six months.
They started to straggle in late Friday night; one set decided to leave at zero-dark-thirty and didn’t arrive until mid-morning on Saturday. A big family breakfast started the weekend. The house was full of people and conversation, one talking over another or quiet sidebars as we caught up. It was the first time all of them have stayed with us together. Just one of many to come, I hope.
We are so blessed to live in this small part of the world, sheltered from much of the chaos that afflicts the rest of our country. Rolling hills, flowing streams and beautiful lakes. As perfect a setting for a mini reunion as I could imagine.
I have not had such lazy days like this with my kids in a very long time. Usually it is a rush, making the rounds over a holiday, tied up in family obligations – one piled on top of another with places to be and schedules to meet. The Pandemic and a desire on their part not to cross-mingle gave us a break and more time together (a silver lining even in adversity).
I had the opportunity to have lengthy discussions with each of them: my daughter sitting on a dock as the rest of the pack floated about us on the lake, one son in a lively discussion about politics, and another in a reflective chat while sipping whiskey as the fire pit settled to embers.
They have all become their own people. It is what I wanted for them most, yet it leaves a touch of sadness. I wish them to acknowledge the legitimacy of my perspective. At one point, I tried to draw a parallel to my own experiences. I played my son an old Cat Stevens song, “Father and Son,” about the conflict of youth and age. It had been very poignant in my relationship with my own father, although my departure from his views was more significant than today.
So, the earth goes around but there is ever the continuity of experience. The older generation sees the world through years of conflict and compromise. The changes we wanted so adamantly now seems less significant when compared with family and health. There is nothing I would trade for the safety and prosperity of my children.
The reality is that we leave very little to this world other than our children. It is something special to see them grow into their own, to believe that somewhere along the way you have made a difference and know that they will make a bigger one.
As they leave, crunching tires down the long gravel driveway, a melancholy sets in. I want to pull them back, to recreate the marvelous weekend we have just had. It is not to be. I see their brake lights shine for but a moment then they turn and are out of sight, traveling back to their homes and off into their future.
I do not know what that future will hold, for them or me. I am apprehensive in ways they are not. Such is the affliction of growing old. But I also have a serenity. I think perhaps I have played out most of what God intended of me (but not all). I have made mistakes aplenty and have a fair share of regrets, but not with my kids. If they represent the next generation, I think things may just turn out alright. For that I will pray.