I drove my sister Babs to the airport this morning. Under two masks and a pair of glasses, I felt cocooned, just a little isolated from her though she sat beside me in the passenger seat, similarly muffled. Our conversation en route was necessarily superficial as I concentrated on my driving in the thick traffic. As we approached the airport, I admitted to secretly hoping her flight would be cancelled and reminded her to be careful . She speculated that by the time she’s ready to come home, in three weeks, flights may well be shut down. I allowed that I could live with her being 2,200 miles away as long as she was LIVING.
As I watched her walk into the terminal, her wheeled bag in tow, it struck me that there was a very real possibility I might never see her again. I immediately regretted nagging her and wished I’d bid her “bon voyage” and told her how much I loved her instead. But that’s not what we do in our stoic Dutch family.
Babs is paving the way to move permanently to Michigan to live with her second daughter. At this point, she’s traveling back and forth frequently, and availing herself of Southwest’s free checked luggage policy. Today she confided that she had packed a circular saw and a desk lamp in her checked luggage. That should give TSA something to think about. Last time she came home with an empty bag save for packaging materials. The baggage inspectors must have been frustrated after pawing through it and finding nothing of interest because they ruined the bag.
So as I adjust to the idea of my only sister moving far away, I’m forced to wonder exactly what makes home “home”. Is it the familiar place where you have spent the last sixty years of your life? Or is it where your family lives?
While I complain bitterly about the Southern California summers, I’m not at all confident that Michigan winters would be any more to my liking. There’s no doubt that Michigan has its charms beyond having extended family, but considering how seldom I actually visit my sister, niece, and great-nephew who live just four miles away, would I really see the Michigan family if it meant driving on icy roads?
And then there are the friends and acquaintances that surround me like ripples from a stone tossed into a tranquil pond. How my life would be diminished if I had to part with them!
So, for now, home is the familiar places, the trails I love, the friends and acquaintances of a lifetime, and an ever-shrinking family. My sister says I’m getting emotional in my old age; she’s right, of course.