My daughter and her Oma spend a lot of quiet time together. I love it that they get along so well and always seem to have something to talk about, even during those times when there’s not much to say or left to do but play checkers for awhile.
But as much as I love to stop and look at the two of them in their calm togetherness, I can’t help thinking that by the very nature of our family, one part of her childhood will always be hopelessly one-sided.
Her German Oma lives only a couple of hours down the Autobahn and comes to visit us regularly, but her Canadian grandmother lives nine time zones and a long, expensive flight away. My mother is turning 85, still fit and active, still drives a car, goes out with friends and takes short trips, but understandably no longer feels up to the exhausting flight to Europe from the west coast of Canada all by herself. She’s made the trek three times in the 10 years we’ve been living in Hamburg, and we’ve flown there four, but now it’s all up to us.
I’d like to be able to offer my daughter what I feel is the best for her, and that includes regular contact with her grandmother. But by the very nature of having a family where grandparents live on opposite sides of the world, on this I fear we are always going to come up short. In contrast to the close, comfortable relationship she has with her Oma, her contact with her Grandma will always be like getting to know one another all over again. She’ll still be the red-haired girl, but each time she’ll have grown and changed into a new version of herself. Depending on mood, the effects of jet lag and any other combination of factors, there’s no guarantee the two of them will ever be able to settle into each other’s company, and after our time’s up and it’s time to go, that’ll be it until the next time.
We’re headed to Canada this year, not just because we want to, but because it really has been too long since she last saw her grandmother. It’s going to be a great trip: a week in Canada, then a wander down the coast of Oregon and California to Los Angeles. There we will stay with a friend of ours, before flying home from LA.
I really don’t know when the next time will be. And in the back of my mind, I’m always wondering: is this time going to be the last?
© 2008 lettershometoyou