My family often refers to ourselves as the "family of long good-byes". Whether it's Christmas or a drop by visit during the week at my Grandma's we can't seem to just say "good-bye" and walk out the door. It goes against our nature. Maybe it's because we don't really want to go. Maybe it's because we're procrastinating. Or, maybe we're just plain weird. Whatever the reason- it's just what we do.
My kids never believe me when I say, "Ok, kids. It's time to go." They give me a nod but I know they're thinking "Suuuuuure." Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall- it doesn't matter. Coats can be on, keys can be in hand. We may move another couple of feet closer to the door. Then a conversation about something else will start up. I'll call the kids again and tell them it's really time to go. They find another place to sit closer to the door. Eventually we lose them again. Finally, cars begin warming up outside- for 10 more minutes. It just never ends! We'll finally inch our way out the door, shrug our shoulders and say- we're the "family of the long good-byes!"
I went for a visit this week to my grandparents. My grandad, 94, is getting ready to move into a nursing home. My mom, her two brothers and my Grandma have been taking diligent care of him around the clock for the past several months. With dementia progressively worsening (he doesn't really recognize any of us now) and the need for constant care it was decided that this is what's best for him and the family.
So, this was my chance to see him for the last time in his home that I have had 34 years of wonderful memories with him there: sleepovers with root beer floats and pancakes and bacon in the mornings, riding lawn mower lessons, golfing, bike rides, fishing trips, hours and hours of video taping of my "fashion shows" and me and my brothers "levitation acts", and much more.
After lunch my Grandad got comfy in his bed and we gathered around his room to watch some family videos of the good old days: my little brother's 2nd birthday, one of my fashion shows, Christmas '87, the family famous stroller crash video that we still debate on sending to Funniest Home Videos (**will explain later) all taken by my Grandad. He was always the one behind the camera capturing every moment of our family get togethers.
In the midst of our laughter, hoops and hollers Grandad soon drifted off to sleep. My Grandma glanced over at him sleeping peacefully, slowly looked at his frail body, then tuned back to me and said, "This is the "long good-bye", you know. We're always the family of long good-byes."
With moist eyes we squeezed hands, cherishing the moment as we reflected on the years of good memories.