From Maine to Georgia: Deep thoughts from a quick trip.

I’ve been a little quiet over the last few weeks.  Quiet isn’t something I do naturally.  Or very well.  I like to think.  I like to talk.  And I like to share.  But lately I just haven’t had the words.  I’m learning that by being quiet I am more able to listen.  And maybe by sharing a little about what has been going on I can find my voice again.

If you’ve followed me at all, you will know that I moved from Georgia to Maine 4 years ago.  We left behind everything familiar and we left behind family and friends and roots and land and we headed North.  All to pursue a new career and dream for my husband and to seek a simpler life for our growing family.

I have adjusted to Maine’s harsh winter as well as a person can.  I still don’t believe that even those that are from Maine ever really adjust fully to winter.  I think you just have to make the best of it and look towards Spring.

I’ve gotten used to living in a new place and we have a nice home.  I have wonderful friends.  My children are thriving.  We attend a loving church.  I am blessed with a job that I enjoy.  We are enjoying our life in Maine.

But being away from family is so hard.  Our hearts hurt for Georgia when we are needed there.  We have experienced loss since we have left and the miles just add to that pain and grief.  When we visit, we see the aging that has taken place in the lives of those that we love and we see how much everything has changed.  We wish our children could enjoy their grandparents more.  I miss everything about our family.

As I write this, I am wrapping up a very unexpected trip South and am sitting in my parents house.  I made this trip to spend some time with my grandfather.  He has been sick and in the hosiptal and is now under hospice care.  I don’t know how much time he has left.  I don’t know if he will ever really recover from this.  I just don’t know.  So that’s why I’m here.  I came because I knew that I would rather come while I can hug his neck.  Hear his voice.  Hold his hand.  Listen to his laugh. Enjoy his stories.

Papa Gene

What have I learned from this short visit?  This is what I’ve learned by being quiet and listening for a change:

  1. Be grateful.  I can’t tell you how many times my grandfather has told me “thank you”.  He has said each and every time I have gone to visit with him just how grateful he is.  Grateful for the love that his family is showing him.  Grateful for even the smallest amount of time we spend with him.  Grateful to tears. 
  2. Face each day as it comes.  My grandfather is facing each day knowing he isn’t quite himself.  He knows he isn’t well physically.  He’s not looking towards the end of his life, though.  He is looking at what each day brings him.  He sets little goals for himself and psychs himself up.  He has a pretty positive attitude, most of the time.  He is taking his life day by day.
  3. A family’s love is sometimes the best medicine. When I decided to come for this visit, I didn’t know what to expect when I got here.  I didn’t know if my grandfather would make it until I arrived.  I didn’t know if he would be in a hospital bed or would really know I was there.  All I knew is how sick he had been and that I needed to see him.  I wanted him to know that he was loved and that there were people that would go a very long distance just to be close to him. I didn’t want him to feel like he was alone.  I spoke with one of his nurses this morning and she said that his family being in town and visiting with him this week has been the best medicine that he could have been given.  She said that the love of family was the best thing a person could be given when they don’t feel well.  That it was powerful.  And she said that she believed that his improvement this week is clearly because he has had family here, loving him. Spending time with him.
  4. I am married to a wonderful man. When I got off the phone last week from a pretty tough phone call with my mom and then told my husband how my grandfather was doing, he told me to go. He encouraged me to make the trip so that I could spend some time with him while I could.  He has taken care of our children beautifully.  Our son had a violent stomach bug while I have been gone.  It has been “spirit week” at my daughter’s school.  He has had to cook dinner each night.  All of the little details and running around that I normally do, he has willingly taken on so that I could have this time with my grandfather.  I will never be able to thank him enough.

Tomorrow I am going to be saying goodbye again to my family in Georgia.  I am not good at this part of our trips.  This time is particularly hard. I am so happy that I know in my heart that our family does have the promise of heaven. That is my source of peace and comfort in tough times and through the goodbyes.

We are never given the promise of tomorrow.

Please do me a little favor – you’ve stuck with this post for this long:

Tell people that you love them.  Show people that you love them.  Make sure that they know that they are appreciated.  Don’t put off writing that letter or making that call or making that trip.  Go.  Say it.  Do it.

It just may be the medicine that you were both needing.

 

 

 

Jennifer Collins (GracefulMess)

About Jennifer Collins (GracefulMess)

Jennifer is a mom with a day job and she likes to write about her victories and messes along the way. She is living an adventurous life as a Georgia transplant learning to thrive in Maine, with a strong Southern accent that screams that she is "from away" and a new-found love for lobster rolls and timely snow plows. Jennifer's writing has been featured on BlogHer, iVillage Australia, Daddy Doin' Work, and Mamapedia.