Monday, August 16, 2010

So Far Away

My parents divorced when I was very young. I'm not sure exactly how old I was, I guess I never bothered to ask. But based on photos taken from when I was a toddler, with my mother's second husband, I would venture a guess that I was somewhere between 1-2 years old.

For almost all of my life, my father has lived too far away to see him much. I spent some time living with him at various times in my childhood in Alabama and California but not more than about a year or two. I saw him a few times in my teen years but not much as an adult. He was (is) living in Delaware and every time I looked at plane tickets, it was upwards of $400 to visit and I just never had that money. I'd see him when he'd make a trip out to see me and my siblings, every 2-3 years. Often when he did come to visit, I'd be busy working and unable to take time off so I rarely got to spend much time with him when he was in town.

He's now 80 years old. Last year I finally pulled the money together to fly out to see him since it'd been more years than I could remember since I had seen him last. My children don't really remember him, it's been that long. I spent a nice 5 days visiting with him and I recall him saying how much he has regretted not being closer over the years so that he could have been a part of our lives while we were growing up. He is coming out next month to visit for a few days and it's going to be the first time Dweezil and Frank will have seen him since they were very little.

I live in Utah and I have never really liked it. I have lived here longer than I've lived any other place yet it's never felt like home to me. It's always felt like a way station, a place I've stopped on my way to some place else. In my adulthood, I've viewed it as a temporary stop and yet it's been an 18 year temporary stop so far. I itch deep down in my core to move away. My heart yearns for another home, some place not land-locked, close to the ocean. It's been a struggle for me to stay here. I have tried to convince Brad that we need to move but he wants to stay, for no real reason he can put his finger on.

Then I think about my boys who live with their father. Dweezil is 14, Frank is almost 11. And I think about how little I saw of my father over the years and I realize I can't move yet. Sure, I survived without my father but I always missed him, always wished he lived closer. My boys could probably survive just fine without me but I don't think I can survive just fine without them. I suppose it's the sort of thing one can get used to after a while but it's not something I want to get used to. Not yet. Seeing them every other weekend is not enough for me, seeing them less is not an option. Right now, I live about a 2-hour round trip drive from them so I don't get to go to their sporting events, although I try to make sure I get to Dweezil's choir concerts whenever I can. I hate to tell them that their event is too early for me to get to after I get off work or too early on a Saturday morning for me to see them. I don't want to move so far away that I can't see them for important events in their lives as they become teenagers. So only seeing them once or twice a year right now is not an option.

And that means my 18 year temporary stop in Utah is going to become at least a 25 year temporary stop. Maybe longer. Who knows? As long as I live here, I'll always be yearning deep down in my heart to be somewhere else. But being a parent means putting aside some of your most selfish desires for the good of your children. It means being there for your children as much as possible. Some day, they'll be old enough to move on with their lives. Maybe they'll go to school somewhere else, maybe they'll go to school out of state. Maybe they'll marry and move out of Utah for employment. And until they are adults, I will be here, making sure I'm as constant a presence in their lives as I can be; I will be here when they need me. I don't ever want them to look at their childhood and wish that I'd been more of a part of it. I don't want anyone, not me, not them, to have that sort of regret.


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