In Union Town, Pennsylvania the maternal side of my family gathered this weekend for the Annual Labor Day Family Reunion. The pain of being so far away is particularly sharp for this family reunion.
This past year has been a difficult one for my grandparents. Failing health led to some tough decisions. They sold the home they have lived in for most, if not all, of their more than 50-year marriage and moved to another state leaving behind everything they have known and loved for more than half a century. The move put them around the block from their son, my Uncle Rick, but still it must have been a tough thing to do and I could not be there for them.
PepPep's health continued to deteriorate, which put a great strain on Grandma and she too was seeing health effects. Eventually the tough decision was made to move PepPep to a residential facility. Once again, I could not be there. The rest of the family rallied around Grandma and PepPep at this time, particularly Uncle Rick and his family, who are so close. But here I am on the other side of the planet wondering what I can do for them.
When you move far away, life isn't put on pause for you or the friends and family you left behind. When we left for the Peace Corps we got a lot of comments indicating that we were putting our lives on hold and then would return in two years to pick up where we left off. Our lives have not been on hold these past two years. This is our life.
The same goes for our friends who cannot seem to stop getting married while we are away (Colin, Taryn, Brad, Jenny, Jason, Zaira) or buying their first house (Teresa) or going away to college (Marian) or having their first child (Joe, Erin). A phone call from the other side of the world with all the static and lag that goes with Skype on dial-up just doesn't seem to be sufficient to congratulate your best friend on his wedding or talk to your Grandma during a difficult time.
I think that I have blogged about this before, but the search on Blogger is sort of poop and I cannot locate the older post, so you will just have to deal with a rehashed topic for today.
PS. The Way Back Machine.