Surprisingly, I’ve really struggled this week trying to decide which old post to republish. I am caught between a few: a sentimental one, a more-about-me-and-immigration one or the funny one that I love that got like one bloody comment. So, I went with this one.
My Mum and step-dad come over to visit us for the first (and only) time in the States. Ian was 10-12 weeks old at the time. It was a very bitter-sweet visit. I wrote this a year after they were here (I wasn’t blogging in 2004). Without further a-do…
Perfect Moments – 25 September 2005
I’ve been a little reflective lately, and I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because September is drawing to a close, and finally weather my little Scottish thermostat can handle is breezing in. Whatever the reason, I have become slightly philosophical.
It’s hard to believe just over a year has past since my mother and step-father were here to visit us for the very first time. Ian was just 11 weeks old at the time. Having them here was really quite a surreal experience for me. I’d never had my Mum stand in my bathroom, and had the opportunity to admire her as she stood and sprayed her hair, or watched her brush her teeth with such a staring intensity I have never known before.
Each morning, as she finished getting ready for the day, I would bound upstairs and drape myself across her bed and just watch her. When I got tired of that, I’d fire question after question at her and keep her talking so much, we’d be an hour or so behind on our plans for our outings. It was so enthralling to me to introduce her to brands and stores I had been accustomed to driving past every day. Or warning her sales tax is added at the till, a dime looks like 5p, and you can legally turn right on a red light (although I wish we couldn’t).
With the exuberance and energy usually only seen in a child’s eye, I showed her the things Bryan and I had accumulated over our then 3.2 years of marriage, Ian’s collection of clothing and blankets, our photographs, and our favourite scenic haunts.
In retrospect, it was such a bitter-sweet time for me. I was so elated they were finally here, and especially able to meet our little Ian, and watch them dote over him; but it was such a difficult time also, because I knew I had to cherish every tiny moment they were around.
Even the most ordinary of things brought me to tears; and perhaps you could be forgiven for thinking it was my hormones trying to kick back into balance. What a blessing it was to stand in my bedroom and stare down into our garden thirty feet below, watching my mother pull up a chair and soak in the sunshine. With his arm around my shoulder, Bryan asked, “What’s wrong? Why are you crying?” “It’s not every day you look out your bedroom window and your Mum is standing in your yard.” I cherish those moments, as most would their fine china.
As the house quietened down, and time ticked by, resuming our lives became easier. At the time, I had never imagined how having them here and then watching them leave for Scotland, would have such a profound affect on me.
I made a point of keeping the door to their bedroom closed religiously. The bathroom was more challenging. Out of necessity, I decided to distance myself from it for two weeks. The fragrance of my mother’s body wash seemed to have permeated the entire room, and I found it emotionally difficult to experience the smallest whiff of it. She had left a large remainder of it for me, and admittedly, I only started using it at the beginning of this month.
Wherever my reflections take me, I have learned never to take anything for granted. Every day is a special occasion and calls for our best plates and silverware. And most importantly, there are no perfect days, just perfect moments.
it must be so difficult, to not be near your family! i take it for granted…my parents live a mile or so away…so does my sister and her family. i can pop in, whenever i want…it’s comforting.
that was a beautiful post!
hope you are having a wonderful morning!
What a beautiful post. I can so understand the perspective of the rare visit from someone so far away but your reflections are full of love and a relationship with a family member I can only envy in a way – one I have never ever had. even though I know you have a sad reason to be returning home I know from this entry that you have a lot to look forward to seeing too.
Wow Siobhan, what a great post. Appreciating the little things (even though they are big at the same time, I guess “moments” are mostly little) is so important in life. It was very well-written too; I could almost imagine myself there.
I hope you have a great weekend! 🙂
Melisa the American (ha ha)
Great story, Siobhan. I love that you beautifully write exactly what you feel. It brings your readers into your world and allows them to remember similar feelings they have had in the course of their life. That’s not easy to do but you do it easily.
I’m sorry you are so far from those you love! 😦
What a sweet memory. I don’t get to see my parents nearly as often as I would like, but they are only a couple states away, not a whole ocean.
I’m sitting here with tears streaking my face, S. Really. My parents are 15 hours away, by car, and to you that probably seems like nothing but a lot of these moments that you described I, too, felt. I thought I would be annoyed by my parents visit for ten days, but I wasn’t. I cherished it as much as possible. Anyway.. wow! Thanks for sharing this one, dear blog friend!
Aaah! I know exactly what you mean. My mother is almost a different person when she comes to my house (and we are lucky that she comes about twice a year). When I’m at her house (every summer) I revert to the daughter and she starts bossing me around – but I don’t mind. When we leave, having stayed at least three weeks, my siblings and her friends know to take her out of the house for at least the first three days as she just wanders around crying. And with us all getting older, I can’t even think about how the next ten years will go. I am just extremely grateful that we have enough air miles to see each other usually at least twice a year.
That was absolutely gorgeous! I am so glad you knew how precious those moments were as you were experiencing them. Just wonderful.
Siobhan, I’m here in tears like some of your other readers. Your post really captured this so well. I felt the same way after I had my daughter, and my parents came out to visit us (at the time, we lived on opposing coasts, an 8 hour flight away). I cried even before my mom arrived, and weeped for days after she left.
“Every day is a special occasion and calls for our best plates and silverware” very well said.
I hope your upcoming visit to see your mum is full of great moments like these….
awwwwwwww. i only see my mom once a year and that’s tough enough. i definitely stare at her and squeal and say things like i can’t believe you’re here! and sit under her. its fab.
sorry. i also meant to give you an internet hug for not being able to see your mom.
poignant. hope you are able to savor each precious moment of your upcoming trip to scotland!
i’m still feeling reflective after this powerful description of your experience, much like i felt after seeing the play “our town” by thornton wilder.
your post reminds me of a beautiful, melancholy song called “goodbye” that you might like (?) here’s a link if you want to check it out. (for best quality, let it load just a bit before playing.)
thanks for sharing your story.
This post prompted such feelings of empathy for me. I’ve lived in Northern Illinois for most of my married life, while my parents (now just my mom…my died died in 2004) lived in Texas. Admittedly, it’ s not as far away as Scotland, and I’ve gotten to see them at least a couple of times a year. But it’s never been enough…and when they were here, I cherished it just as you did. And I start dreading her leaving the minute she gets here. I so envy people who can go out to lunch or go shopping with their mother.