We returned on Sunday evening from our week long trip to Ohio. My family is there, and when I say my family I literally mean just about every family member alive is there - excluding a few "strays" who live in Oklahoma and California. The drive to and fro went well and we are so thankful for our ROCK STAR children who made the trip in the car for 10 hours go by smoothly. They slept the entire state of Indiana on the way home, which I know is all part of God's grace because none of us slept the night before. While the trip wasn't meant to be this huge teachable moment thing, I left with this impression on my heart that I had aged, matured, whatever... time is moving and I saw the effects of time in a big way. Part of me was changed and can never go back.
The town "I grew up in", which was really only 10th through 12th grades, had gotten older, again. Houses looked worn, familiar faces still working at the same grocery store were years older, rumbling trucks on small streets still running but older and maybe louder. My old highschool looks old and dirty. Even my parents Boxer/Mastiff dog had gray hair and my cat growing up now walks with a limp from sore hips. It's so weird to feel like you are going back in time...but that time hasn't been kind, or maybe it has. My bedroom in highschool is now the kids toyroom and linen storage, my brothers room a remodeled office, and aside from our Senior pictures you might not know there were once teenagers there. My baby cousins are in college or married and little kids whose diapers I onced changed are driving cars, dating, and planning futures. It's...so...weird. But perhaps the hardest part of watching time pass was visiting my grandparents. At almost 32 years old I have little experience with this sort of thing. I only lost my great-grandparents in Jr high and the sight of death isn't often in front of me, at least with my family. We are a seemingly healthy, young, falsely eternal bunch. So as I took a deep breath, closed the car door and walked toward the nursing home... I could feel my heart failing me. It hurt. This brick building with a pot hole parking lot seemed so sterile and unkind. Not the warmth of grandma's house with her decorations, afghan blankets on each couch and the smell of grandpa's aftershave. We made our way down the hallway to the room that had their names on the door and as I peeked around the door I realized time had come here, too. When you are young you know your grandparents are old, simply because they are your parents parents. But they also bake cookies, take you out to shoot the BB gun, give you dollar bills in your letters, and teach you things only grandparents can. These people I was looking at now were the same, only changed. Gray hair had gone white. Flexible shoulders slumped down and full cheeks were thin with age. My grandpa didn't recognize me at first but thought I was one of the nurses - so I helped him with his jacket and whispered a "suprise" and then his eyes changed as he really saw me. Grandpa. I'll always see him as I did when I was a child, but this man I saw today was still just as handsome and just as much my grandpa, though altered. Grandma sat in her bed and smiled as my children filled the room and became the entertainment. Still Grandma, with hershey kisses to share and her hair pulled back in a bobby pin. My heart pounded and I was so proud of myself for holding back the hot tears during our visit. Part of me wanted to run away and part of me wanted to make this visit last as long as I could...because what if?... I can't even say the words. Later to my husband I cried my fears that that was the last time I might see them. Then I cried for saying that out loud. Time has crept on and maybe it was just more apparent to me this visit - but I felt it. I felt the weight of the situation. I felt my baby brother turning 29 soon. I felt my parents "handling" their aging parents as well as their own aches and pains. And maybe I felt older, too.
I don't mean to sound down. The trip went so well - we had great family time, spent some money to do a few fun activities and just enjoyed our visit. But these above thoughts still kinda haunt me as I think and ponder life and time.
We got back to Iowa and it's still just as cold as when we left. I think it was 22 degrees last night. Bah! But, as the sun peeks out this morning we are hopeful that the warmer weather will one day arrive and Spring will carry on. Spring Break 2014. Memorable for sure.