It took me hours of searching on the Internet to find just the right cottage. The must haves included:
- At least 4 bedrooms
- A separate bunky
- Full kitchen, and
- Some form of watercraft
It could be a family celebration of my 50th birthday. People could pitch in making meals. Rest, relaxation and one last shot at a family vacation – that was my vision.
Our kids are adults and I’m ready for them to fly independently as long as they don’t fly exclusive of some connection with me. I found the right cottage at the end of a long and winding road. And they came. They all came. One came for only a few days and the rest for the week.
Did they come out of obligation or willing participation? Should it matter? Moments. I suppose that’s all we really have – a collection of moments. I cherish the laughter, the boyish jokes over farts and old private jokes that resurface and remind us of the past. But there are other moments too. I witness rejection and hurt and isolation and I feel it as if it were my own. I wish their relationships were different and yet at the same time I try to accept that our family, although my greatest source of joy and what I treasure the most, is not idyllic.
As I look out the windows and see the smooth rippling water, the blue skies, white clouds, rocky shores and tall pine trees I hear the birds singing and I’m grateful. If this truly is our last family vacation, the setting is beautiful. As we sat around last night and played Balderdash there was a connection to the fabric of our family identity even though there were four and not six.
We are surrounded by such beauty in nature and there’s enough space so no one feels overwhelmed. Even the best cottage in the best location wouldn’t prevent personalities and behaviour patterns from emerging.
Do I wish they would all get along and appreciate each other?
Does my heart hurt when I see how deeply it hurts one to feel the rejection of another?
These are my people, the ones I’d actually give my life for. I’ve never wished away one stage for another, nor did I ever try to hold them back. I do however hold the collections of moments like the best treasures, knowing love is strong and my love for all of them never weakens.
The mischievous squeak of the rocking chair on the porch floors, the banana boats around the fire, the tipsy boys climbing into a row boat and trying to sink the dock, the father and son fishing trips in the canoe, the game playing and father-daughter puzzle completion – these are the collection of moments that I’ll try to preserve. The sound of the whippoorwill and the discussions around what if all birds called their own names will put a smile on my face every time I hear their call.
This vacation seems to mirror our family quite well, not idyllic, but amidst dysfunction, there’s fun and imagination and treasured moments more precious than jewels! I’ve made most of the meals and there’s no mention of birthdays – in fact Father’s Day was barely acknowledged – but but they came. I don’t know if they did so willingly or for me, but they came. If this be our last official family vacation then I savor each moment and send out my love and appreciation to my people for whom I have such gratitude and immeasurable love.