Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Childhood Phantoms

Yesterday I held Sam as he cried. He cried for his grandparents, a long, hard cry. He misses them so much, and not just because they let him watch as much TV as his head can hold or because they secretly fill him up with M&Ms and 'orange treats' (you might know them as them Tic Tacs.) Simply because he misses them. He misses their physical presence, hugging them, playing with them.

As he sobbed, I felt my eyes well and my chest get tight. SOB was still here, and he (gently) admonished Sam, telling him there was no reason to cry. I think I was just as surprised as he was when I snapped at him to leave Sammy alone, to let him have his cry. To let me have my cry with him. I held him tighter and rocked him a little, just like when he was a baby, and soon enough we were ok.

Afterwards, SOB asked me what and why?

It was as if, for those few moments, I was a little girl again. Maybe seven, maybe eight. We would see my maternal grandparents twice every year. Once at the holidays and for two weeks every summer. Most years, we would pile into our mini-van as soon as we got home from the very last school day. Eighteen hours later we would be jumping in my grammy's pool. For two weeks we did nothing but swim and eat and play. It was glorious. But like everything, it had to end. I would cling to my grandmother, sobbing uncontrollably, wet and snotty and out of control. Somehow, eventually, my parents would get me in the car, but the sobbing would continue, usually until I fell asleep.

The winter visits weren't any better. I remember going to my father's brother's wedding and forcing my family to leave early because my grandparents had left during the ceremony and I was distraught over not saying goodbye.

My grandparents eventually moved back north, but only at the tail end of my high school career. While I pretended to be cool about it, inside I was giddy. They were there to see me graduate, and even though my grandfather was too proud to accept the special front row seating due to his knee replacement, I still got the tickets in hopes they would sit where I could see them.

So when Sam wept over missing his nunni and pappy, I couldn't help but weep with him. I've never been able to recall so keenly my own childhood emotions as I did in that moment, and even though I was crying with him, in most ways I was crying for myself.

We clung together for a few moments, and after a while we both started feeling better. That's what moms are for. That's what babes are for.

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Lora said...

we've got a little bit of this going on at my house too.

I always figured that having some of his grandparents far away would just be "normal" for Jake and he would deal accordingly.
No so. He asks to go there every day, each weekend he wants to pack a bag and make the drive. It's sad.

carrie said...

amy, how sweet. this made me cry.

super des said...

awww :(

We didn't live near my grandparents, so I didn't see them as often as I would have liked (looking back). But both my grandfathers showed up to my HS graduation, and that made my year.
I always said that I'd live near my parents when I have kids so they can see their grandkids. We'll see how that actually pans out.

Amy Jo said...

For a few minutes, I seriously considered putting the house on the market and move to pittsburgh. Momentarily, of course.

susan said...

Awww! Again, I am more than a little envious of your relationship with your parents and, as a by product, the relationship your kids have with them. What an amazing connection... what a wonderful way to grow up.

Daniel said...

Thanks for making me just as home sick as you.

Arizaphale said...

We are such a trans national family now that sense of loss is so all pervading and constant that we rarely notice it. Every now and then it comes up and bites us on the bum. Like this time Mum and Dad left. Don't know why, maybe cos it was mother's day as well? But the BA and I stood and hugged and sobbed for a good few minutes after they went through the customs door at the airport. Then we went SHOPPING!!!!
I never admonish kids for showing their emotions. Much better out than in I say.