When our son, Karl, was five years old he imparted to me a bit of wisdom that will serve me all my days on earth. We were out walking, and we saw a baby robin hopping on the grass. Karl commented, “If I ‘ketched’ a little bird, I would not put it in a cage. I’d hold it for awhile, and then let it go.”
Life is an ongoing exercise in holding for awhile, then letting go. Currently I am letting go of a beloved young family: our grandson, Joshua, his wife, Kelly, and their precious children—Ethan, Cole, and Ella. These Valentines (that is their last name!) are moving to California, where Josh has accepted a new job.
Josh and his family have been our neighbors for the last two plus years, here in the northern reaches of our county. They are the kind of people who show up and sit quietly by your side when you have been rushed to Emergency. We’ve stashed away a treasure trove of memories with these young people—pizza outings, birthday celebrations, strolls in the park, and lots of ice cream occasions. I have shed tears over losing this family, and I’ll undoubtedly shed more tears. Yet I smile to think of Kelly enjoying San Diego. Kelly and I are alike; we love warm weather!
I often reflect on how radical it was back in the 1800s when Easterners went West, facing incredible hardships and dangers. Even more life changing was the uprooting of millions of immigrant families who came to our land from other continents, for a fresh start and the hope of a better life—or, as in the case of most of my ancestors, for religious freedom. We can concentrate on thinking with all we have, yet we cannot begin to comprehend what those early settlers experienced—let alone the courage they displayed.
So California is not that far away, and it is not inaccessible! A few hours by air. Yet it sounds like the other end of the world to me, now that flying is no longer one of my favorite things! I would relish a long trip on the Amtrak, but sitting on a train is not Joe’s idea of fun. We’ll see what we can dream up. Meanwhile our loved ones will be back to visit, with so much family in Wisconsin.
↑ Ethan (in front), Joshua holding Cole, Kelly holding Ella
Margaret L. Been, ©2012