I'm off to my grandfather's memorial tomorrow. The service itself is on Sunday, in my grandfather's hometown in the southwest corner of Missouri. I have to fly to Tulsa, OK, where I'll meet my dad, then we'll drive the 1.5 hours to the small Oklahoma town where many of his cousins and other extended family still live. There are no direct flights from Boston to Tulsa, so even with the time change in my favor and a short layover, a 12:30 p.m. departure is getting me to Oklahoma around 5:00 p.m. We'll go to the memorial on Saturday morning, tour Daddy Gene's hometown in the afternoon, then have a big family dinner in the evening. I'm on a 7:00 a.m. flight on Sunday that will get me into Boston around 1:00 p.m. Quick trip.
I'm dropping the babies off with friends tomorrow morning. Brave friends. They have twins of their own, six months older than Maddie and Riley. The kids know each other as well as kids of this age can, and, in fact, Maddie and Riley often asked for these friends when we were in Oregon. The kids are all more-or-less on the same schedule, so while it will be lots more work for my friends than their usual two, it will be as easy as it can be for everyone. I think. I hope. I'm so grateful to my friends for being willing to take the kids and make it possible for me to go to the memorial.
Frankly, there's a lot to look forward to about the memorial. Of course I'm sad to lose my grandfather. But I haven't been to his hometown—the town my dad grew up in, too—since I was in high school (?). And all of my first cousins will be in attendance, the first time we've all been together since my grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary many, many years ago. In that time, we've become adults. Many of us have married, and the youngest of us is in college. Two of us (three if you count one by marriage) have completed service in the Peace Corps. Two of us have kids. It will be nice to catch up, and nice for me to be able to concentrate on catching up rather than focusing all of my attention on Maddie and Riley. I'm sorry that M&R won't get to meet all of this family, but at their age it wouldn't mean anything to them anyway, and the trip would be a huge hassle for me with them in tow.
Instead of a hassle, this trip will be a bit of a luxury. For the first time that I can remember, I'm thrilled that I'll be trapped on an airplane for hours. I decided against bringing my laptop or a portable DVD player. Instead, I have a book, a journal, and some Sudoku puzzles. My phone will be off, I'm going to get a big ol' latte before I board, and maybe I'll even take a nap. I'm going to brainstorm some writing ideas (blog and other), and just relax. I don't do well at creating that kind of time for myself, but when it is forced upon me, I'm very good at maximizing it.
This will be the most time I've spent away from the kids since they've been born. This feels like the right age and developmental stage to me for us to be apart for this long. I know Maddie and Riley will be fine. I hope my friends are still speaking to me when I get back.
I took the Monday after the memorial off for some recovery time. As it would happen, I got a call for a job interview earlier that week that I managed to schedule for Monday afternoon. No rest for the wicked, that's for sure.