We are home, thankfully, a place where I do not feel the need to be reticent in what I think or say. I enjoyed being in California and visiting relatives and seeing lovely friends. I spent three days with a migraine, but Douglas’ family tried to include me in as many activities as possible. The problem is that the activities they wanted to do are not ones that I have experienced or wanted to do.
For example, I begged off a day of sailing on the San Francisco Bay with Douglas and his sister on her husband’s boat. They grew up as members of a yacht club, and the closest I came to sailing was my rubber ducky in the tub, where I pretended it was a boat. I cannot swim, as well, and having to put on anything with the word “life,” as in life jacket, is a reminder that I could lose mine in the blink of an eye. So, I am not zealous for the boating life. I cope just fine on dry land, thank you very much!
The other issue is that, while I don’t kowtow to my in-laws, their wealth sometimes intimidates me. After 14 years of eating with them, the table settings remain a little confusing. I still wait until the person next to me picks up their glass, so I don’t embarrass myself. I leave the table hungry, so afraid to look “low class” if I put too much food on my plate, place too much food on my fork, or eat too fast.
I definitely didn’t drink any of my sister-in-law’s award-winning wines, even with assurances that one glass would not hurt me, knowing that with my addictive tendencies, I would ultimately drink a whole bottle, when no one was looking. So, I just sat and listened to them tell stories of past backpacking trips or sailing adventures, having nothing to add to the conversation, mostly because this is family history that I did not participate in making.
Probably the hardest part of the trip was seeing the physical frailty and mental loss of my once active and mentally astute mother-in-law. She now has 24-hour at-home care, and it is difficult to see her decline, for just two years ago, she was walking two to three miles a day and swimming a few laps a day. But, she is age 93, which is a blessing in itself. Yet, I miss the old Mom a lot!
The best part of the trip were the three-hour reacquainting lunches I shared with my two best friends in the area, both of whom worked with me as faculty or staff at the university in California. We took pictures and tried to cover everything we wanted to say in a few hours, which was impossible. But, friendships that last across absence and distance are so precious to me.
So, we are home, and, due to age, it takes me longer to recover from traveling. I purposely booked non-stop flights both ways, paying extra not to have to land and take off more than once in a day. But, I would not miss these opportunities to reconnect with the people who mean so much to us. As we get older and unable to get around so well, we may lose contact, so it is important to do as much traveling as possible while we can.
I thank God for journeying mercies, for the angels who camped around us and delivered us from hurt, harm or danger, and for the wondrous people He places in our lives who bring our hearts so much joy, even if we don’t all enjoy the same activities. My prayer for family and friends who I may not see again for a while is found in Genesis 31:49, “May the Lord watch between you and me when we are absent one from another. ”