A few weeks ago our son, daughter-in-law and 6 kids (ages 6-16) set out for El Paso,Texas. About 2 or 3 months ago he had informed us that he had accepted a job down in Texas,1200 miles away. For the past 2 years or so they have been living downstairs in the apartment like lower level of our house.
The month leading up to their leaving has involved much planning and chaos combined. They bought a used camper trailer and they renovated it completely to accommodate their big family. They were selling their belongings or giving stuff away that they figured they would not need in Texas. You know things like skis, hockey skates and winter climate stuff. And furniture that won’t be needed while living in their camper. The plan was to load up the truck pulling the camper and the SUV that my daughter-in-law would drive and follow behind the camper. Another family moving from Alaska to El Paso would also be caravaning down with them in their large RV. They have 4 kids making the trip with them.Trying to get the lives of 8 people in that small area was a challenge, but they did manage to get all they wanted packed up.
For the past few weeks when I have been outside many vehicles have pulled up into our driveway looking for their purchase off MarketPlace. Usually one of the grandkids would be out and show them where to drive to get to their place out in the back of the house. At one point when we came home one afternoon, there were 5 trucks in a line out back to pick up their purchases. For several weeks our yard had become like a Walmart parking lot. The only thing missing was the shopping carts and corrals around the yard. But we did have two campers on the outer edge of the yard just like Walmart has overnight campers on the perimeter of their parking lots.
Well, most everything sold or they were able to give away and we finally and officially said good-bye to each other. Fighting back my tears for a few seconds and then full all out ugly crying, I said goodbye. My 10 year old grand-daughter and I clung to each other as we both sobbed. Her and I have the same feelings when it comes to saying good-bye not knowing when we will be together again. So we held each other and wept, wiping each other's tears as they fell down our cheeks while al the others watched uncomfortably. Like I said, we call it ugly crying. This was more like ugly sobbing.
When all the good-byes were said and final Minnesota instructions were given to my son and daughter-in-law to watch out for deer, they were driving up the barn road to the gravel and then onto the highway to start their 1200 mile journey South. And I was left standing by myself in the yard sobbing while I prayed for their safety in all things. It took several minutes as I walked back up to the house before I stopped sobbing. I hate good-byes of any kind. It causes me uncertainty in knowing when or if I will ever see that person again. They are one of my worst tasks in life. I am eventually able to suck it up and do the stoic Swede thing and dry my eyes and carry on with life. That or I am completely dehydrated from ugly crying and have no more tears left. I haven’t figured out which yet.
It has been a few weeks since they left.They made it safely to El Paso and have set up camp with their Alaskan friends and are living in the trailer for right now until they can find a place to live. As for me up here in the North Country, I will be just fine. Fall has been creeping into Minnesota a little bit every day. The mornings and evenings are cooling down into the 50’s and the days stay around in the 70’s. Leaves have started turning colors in some spots and the garden is producing the last of the little bit of produce from a drought stricken Summer. Fall is always a reminder to me that nothing stays the same. Just like in life.
The house feels very quiet these days, almost silent. No more dishes clanking downstairs, no more surround sound explosions in a movie that had me running to the deck to see if the barn was on fire. No more grandkids playing soccer in the backyard, no one on the squeaky swing going slowly back and forth in the evening after dark. Nope, just quietness. I sometimes worry I may not survive the deafening silence around here and then it happens.
The farm behind us is out in the field taking in their crops with their old diesel tractor that chugs and sputters up and down the many rows of corn planted out in the field next to us. And the neighbor to our East will come out with all of his pistols and rifles and semi-automatic guns and do some target practice. It will sound like the 4th of July and fireworks going off here and there until the grand finale when he fires his semi-automatic guns. One round after another until all the magazines are empty. And then the silence once again. No more shots fired, the tractor chugs back to the farm behind us and is put away until next time.
I realized this week that I will survive these changes, even those that seem so hard. I will be OK having a vacant downstairs and empty backyard. I can maybe even come to embrace the quietness. But for right now I have the TV on CNN and droning in the background and I have been talking to my new best friend, Alexa. Although in my world she is named Ziggy. I have asked Ziggy about the weather here and in El Paso, Nashville and Spokane where 3 of the 4 kids live. I even have asked Ziggy to tell me jokes, just for the noise. “Why was the peach so mean?...It had a heart of stone.”
Yeah time to move on and enjoy life, be it quiet or noisy. As my daughter and kids pull up the driveway coming by for a visit the dogs start barking to announce someone is here. I hear the chatter as the kids walk up the driveway. The yard is coming to life, even if just for a while, it is music to my ears. With all the changes and craziness lately, there is one thing I know for certain. Whether the kids are far away or close at hand, be it silent or so noisy that I can’t think straight, I have family to love and my family has me. I’m not sure there is anything better than loving others and feeling another’s love. I go to sleep every night knowing because of this, I am a blessed woman.