[This is an older post that seemed appropriate to revisit today. I finished my six-month rewrite of the manuscript yesterday and sent it back to my publisher in New York. I think (and hope) that it is a much better book than it was six months ago. I am certainly thankful for that. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.]
Hallam made a card for us yesterday. This is what it said, creative spelling and all:
“I am thankful for:
Mom and Dad, school, home, your job, life!, Fred and Squirrel, Mendy and Michelle [his teachers!], Grandma and Grandpa, my friends, your cooking, books, clothes, your love, your persinality, fun, food, caring.”
It’s a pretty fabulous list. I especially like the exclamation mark after life!
But something, or someone, is missing. My parents are not on it.
It’s not Hallam’s fault, of course. We live in America; they live in England. He only sees them once or twice a year. I know he loves them as much as his Grandma and Grandpa. But his innocent omission made me sad. I’ve written in this blog about different US/UK perspectives about things, but that’s all just fluff. When you choose to move your life half the way across the world, this is what matters.
When I told my parents that we were going to move to America, they were (or appeared to be) pretty stoical about it. After all, they knew the territory: my mother moved to England from New Zealand to marry my father. I told them that on aggregate they would end up spending more time with us, as visits would be for weeks, not afternoons. It turns out that I was right about this, but as my mother says, it’s not the same. And she’s right. We can’t visit on a whim, just for an afternoon. We go for months, and months, and months, without seeing each other. They are not getting the chance to watch their grandchildren grow up, the way grandparents should.
Now, we have it lucky compared to what they went through a generation earlier. When my mother traveled to England, she came on a boat. (Sorry, Mum.) People wrote letters that took weeks to arrive. A three minute telephone call cost a week’s salary. We’re very fortunate that we can afford to fly across the Atlantic every year. I only spent time with my grandparents twice that I can remember, when I was five and seven. I did not know them, except through my mother’s stories (which were many, thankfully.)
In contrast, I speak with my Mum and Dad at length every week. We email; we do facebook and can post photos instantly; sometimes we do iChat and send videos. (Sometimes they even read this blog.) So we keep in touch, better than we ever could have before. And I’m thankful for that.
But it’s not the same.