|A cottage in the woods - made of gingerbread by our daughter|
Our eldest, Ian came home for the day on Monday. He is able to do that because his home in Vancouver is only one hundred and twenty kilometers west of here and he can very easily hop on a Greyhound bus to make the trip home and back. He came home to enjoy Thanksgiving leftovers - turkey sandwiches for lunch with scalloped potatoes on the side and pumpkin pie - and a late birthday supper of barbecued steak and Caesar Salad ( I supposed you've guessed by now that we are not vegetarians, at least not on the holidays). I turned 43 over a week ago, but despite all his good intentions my husband was not able to cook the dinner he'd planned for me that day, due to a flare-up of his herniated disc. However, feeling much better by Monday, my husband rose early with the girls to cook waffles topped with sauteed apples and whipped cream with a side of bacon - might as well go all out- while I drove to the bus depot to pick up Ian and bring him 'home'. In between the feasting our family of six went for a long walk on the farm roads, visited, drank tea in the afternoon while lounging on the living room couches watching episodes of Community on Netflix, and just enjoyed all being together. The day ended all too soon, and after a bit more visiting in the kitchen while we cleaned up, I drove Ian to the bus depot again, knowing it would not be too long before we saw each other again.
We are lucky that our first born and first to leave home lives so close. He is exactly where he wants to be, taking classes at a small college, living with great roommates in an access-to-everything-in-the-city location, working weekends in the guitar section of a music store, and finding inspiration for his life as an artist everywhere. But yet, he can come home or we can go to him quite easily. There is no guarantee the situation will be the same with our second son. He wants to study music and is deciding on which universities to apply to in this huge country of ours. Even though I want him to be close-ish to home like his brother, I know that he will have to go where he needs to go to be in the best music program for him. Not unlike my niece, who is studying ballet in Oregon...I know my sister misses her terribly, while feeling great pride in her daughter for following her dream.
Our third child wants to go to University right after she graduates from high school in 2014. Will she and her brothers come home for the summers? It remains to be seen and depends very much on the housing and employment they can get in their respective cities. And our youngest? Well, at this point she says she is going to live at home and take the theater program at our local university, to which she can bus or drive. She worries about us being lonely without her.
When I went away to University, I lived at home in the summer, working and saving up for the year ahead. My parents have lived in the same house since I was six years old. There is no danger of them 'rattling around' in their house, though. Theirs is not that kind of house, being built in the 1800's when not only furniture, but people were generally smaller. When visitors come they sleep either on the sleeping porch or up in the converted attic sleeping loft. Some of us siblings have even lived with our parents when in between houses and jobs. There has always been enough room somehow.
I am thankful for this open, large roomed, light filled house that has welcomed our family of six so well. We moved in when our eldest was eleven and our youngest was three years old. We've had bands practicing in the garage, ping-pong in the basement, a troupe of girls performing plays in the downstairs family room, twelve or more people around the dinner table, and four of us cooking at once in the kitchen. We've often had violin, piano, and guitar going at the same time in different corners of the house - ack! Baseball and badminton in the back yard and basketball and hockey in the driveway. Christmas trees that looked much smaller in the field and two rooms to store camping gear, skis and a large freezer, as well as a laundry drying rack which is full much of the time. Our house is often messy, but has never felt cramped. The walls are full of artwork and book shelves. I look at all the new row houses (with teeny tiny postage stamp yards) popping up in our town and wonder how we, a family full of energetic, sporty musicians, would have fared living so closely with neighbours as our children grew up. I'm sure we would have survived, but I am grateful we didn't have to.
I wonder what our future brings as we gradually enter into this new phase of life as so called 'empty nesters'. This house and yard is a lot to look after without four strapping youngsters to help. Will we stay, or will we go? Just as we've always done, we'll do whatever seems right and fitting when the time comes. I have a strong sense of 'home'. I would like my children to have that anchor in their lives, too, but I know that 'home' is where the people you love are, not necessarily the structure they live in.
Still, there's time...there's time.