Life is a Series of Heart Tugs

“I’m so happy to have you back,” my husband said to me this morning as I placed an egg and toast in front of him.
“Because now you have someone to make your breakfast and pack your lunch?” I joked.
“No, because I miss you so much when you’re away,” he said.

I just returned from a visit with my daughter and her family in Michigan.  In a good year, if I’m lucky, I get to see them four times, once in the spring, once in the summer, once in early fall, and at Thanksgiving.  It is not nearly enough, but distance, time, and money dictate it. Before my visit my daughter and I had made grandiose plans to do a lot of writing together. I brought my iPad with intentions to make a blog post every day that I was there. That didn’t happen for either of us. All we wanted to do was talk and “hang out” with each other, savoring the sweetness of our time together.

Loved watching giddy fourteen-year-olds celebrating our granddaughter's birthday. They all were treated to pedicures.

We ran errands in preparation for my oldest granddaughter’s birthday party, shopped and ate lunch out, she tutored me on the best make-up to buy and I gave her my opinion on clothes she tried on, and we worked one whole day on piecing a quilt together (a project for my youngest granddaughter’s class). Before we knew it, the week we had been looking forward to since Thanksgiving was over, and we were unloading my suitcase on the curb next to the Delta terminal. We are becoming adept at not making a spectacle of ourselves when we say goodbye. “No tears, Mom,” my daughter said as she hugged me one last time, her eyes glistening to match my own. It will be four long months before we see each other again.

Tomorrow my husband and I will drive up the East Coast, stop in Connecticut for a night to see his mother, and then continue up to Boston for Easter to see our two sons and our daughter-in-law. We will have two and a half days with them, then turn around and make the long drive back to Virginia. During those two days we will talk non-stop, eat gourmet meals, share communion at the altar rail Easter morning, and say our good-byes with stoic faces but a catch in our voices. This has been our life since our children grew up and shaped lives of their own. It is the life for so many  families, now that jobs take us far from each other.

My heart gets tugged in so many direction these days. I want to spend longer than a week with my daughter and granddaughters, longer than two days at a time with my sons and daughter-in-law. I want more time with my two best girlfriends who live far away. But I also don’t want to leave my husband too often or for very long. It seems the older we get, the more anxious we are when we’re apart. So, tomorrow we hit the road again and enjoy every minute we have to share with our children. When we come home, we will get back into our routine, smiling at the memories, sighing with longing for more, and look forward to our next visits.

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About Coming East

I am a writer, wife, mother, and grandmother who thinks you're never too old until you're dead. My inspiration is Grandma Moses who became a successful artist in her late 70's. If I don't do something pretty soon, though, I'll have to find someone older for inspiration.
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43 Responses to Life is a Series of Heart Tugs

  1. pattisj says:

    Life was so different a generation or two ago. For the most part, families settled on the same property, or very near each other.

  2. tuesday2 says:

    I am at that awkward age…missing my grown daughters and missing my parents; trying to stay in touch with everyone in a very busy world.

  3. Leah says:

    Sounds like such a nice visit. I can see where you’d be sad for it to end. But that comment from your husband was a sweet return.

  4. Such an endearing post. Hit me right in the heartstrings! So many of us have experienced being apart from our families and those long-awaited visits that end in restrained tearful partings. My hubby and I lived away from our folks for a good portion of our married lives, finally able to move near them only to lose them to death. And now, the cycle begins again as our children marry this year and move farther away from the two of us. It’s wonderful that you get to spend as much time as you do with your family. Have a Happy Easter!

    • Coming East says:

      I know just what you mean, Mama, about your parents. We left our parents in Connecticut when we moved to Texas. When my father retired and they decided to move to Texas, too, my mother died four years later. I felt cheated.

  5. Liz says:

    I sure do enjoy your posts, Susan! This one sure has a familiar ring…I still cry every time we leave our kids or they leave us…not sure that will ever change…it just doesn’t feel right for them to live so far away – and ours are only 5-6 hours away! Hope you and George enjoy every minute with the Boston “kids” :)

    • Coming East says:

      Thanks, Liz. I sure do wish our kids were only five or six hours away! We’d see them every month. Now we have to wait four long months to see them all again. We had a marvelous time in Boston, but way too short! Hope all is well with you and your family.

  6. yen says:

    Aww, what a sweet post, Susan. :))

  7. Life can be bittersweet as others have already said but what also came to my mind was how it must surely be better to have these heart tugs than to go through life with none at all, whatever the reason. :)

  8. Huffygirl says:

    Sounds wonderful and bittersweet. It would be great to have a daughter to spend a whole week with, doing girly things. One of our sons lives far away too, but visiting a married son is not the same kind of visit that you’d have with a daughter.

    • Coming East says:

      Yes I have to admit I loved doing girls things with my daughter this week, HG, especially since we really didn’t do those things when she was growing up. I love having a daughter now, but moms and daughters can butt heads a lot when they live in the same house. Ask my daughter who is raising two girls. I think she would love to have a boy!

    • Coming East says:

      Forgot to add, HG, that my married son chose a girl who is just like a daughter to me. I could visit them and spend time doing girly things with her, too.

  9. This made my eyes tear up. With one in CA and the other 5 hours away, I miss them so. How does it happen that miles are between us? Our girls grew up with both sets of grandparents just an hour away. And yet, when opportunities presented themselves we encouraged them to fly away. Such a lovely visit you had with your daughter. I wish you and your husband safe travels as you connect with the other members of your family.

    • Coming East says:

      As I said in my post, Georgette, I was echoing the feelings of so many of us. It’s hard to love someone so much, isn’t it? When George retires we will be able to see our children more often and stay longer, but that won’t be for at least four or five years. In fact, with the economy and health insurance, Feorge says he may work until he’s seventy, so we have an even longer wait. I feel for you because you get it.

  10. Jenny says:

    This brought tears to my eyes! We live 1 1/2 hours away from our moms and sometimes that is too far! Just tonight I was shaking my head at the wildness going on before bed and Jack said something about things being easier in 18 years. My response was “I will be sad and missing these days in 18 years.” You have helped me with many of your posts to appreciate these crazy times.

  11. I’m sure that day will come for me as well. Although my kids are still young, I know what it’s like to miss family. I have five brothers and three of them live on opposite corners of the country (Oregon, Florida and NC) Too far to even visit once every few years. They all came back last summer for a big reunion but it went by way too fast!

    • Coming East says:

      I know you savor this time with your children (most of the time!), Darla. Maybe you will be one of the lucky ones and your children will not move far away, though I don’t know what kinds of jobs are available where you live. And sometimes kids just want an adventure, so they move away, thinking they will return, but opportunities just don’t arise to make that possible. That’s what happened to us when we moved to Texas. We thought it would just be for a few years, and we were there nearly 29.

  12. notquiteold says:

    Very sweet – and completely understandable.

  13. Al says:

    Life can sure be bittersweet at times.Touching post, Susan. Good to see you again today!

  14. Beautiful post Susan, safe journey to CT and Boston. Enjoy your 1:1 time with hubby. Wishing you all a blessed Easter.

  15. winsomebella says:

    We get pulled in many directions but one thing good about this world we are living in is that while the miles may be longer, there are more ways to stay connected than there used to be. That’s a big plus provided by the technological change we have enjoyed/endured :-) Your love of family is beautifully expressed here– thanks for sharing.

    • Coming East says:

      You are so right, Bella, about technology helping to shrink those miles. My youngest granddaughter and I are going to see if we can figure out FaceTime between her iPod Touch and my iPad so we can see each other’s faces.

  16. My Pajama Days says:

    miss you

  17. Julia Munroe Martin says:

    I can SO relate! I am right now looking forward to (counting the days!) to my daughter’s homecoming after her junior year in college — then she heads back out for her first summer internship away from home. She’s so excited (and I am for her of course), but I know this is the beginning of no more long times with her at home, and we will settle into some routine of visits…. it’s the turning of the tides, the tugging at the heart. And as you say, in so many directions…

    • Coming East says:

      I wonder, Julia, if families who live near each other all their lives truly appreciate being able to spend so much time with each other, or do they take it for granted because they’ve never known anything else?

  18. kd sullivan says:

    (sigh) Love can hurt a bit…

  19. rayannsom says:

    aww..I loved your post. Made me smile. I felt like I was reading an excerpt from a book. Family is truly a blessing… I hope as I get older I live close to my family.

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