Sunday, June 08, 2008

Love Letters To/ From My Family

Someone said : “In true love the smallest distance is too great, and the greatest distance can be bridged.”

Many people ask me how my relationship with my family has changed over the years, ever since I moved to The States. I tell them, with confidence, that it has actually become closer and much more honest ever since. And it is true.

Because of the distance, and the huge phone charges, we get very limited time of actual chatting, and we want to make it worth while. We don’t BS each other about things we don’t mean. Plus, distance makes you wonder: when would be the last time I talk to that person?! Maybe they will pass before my weekly check-in, or for others, my monthly check-in?! So, every second spent on that phone, every email we spend writing is precious, and every word that much more meaningful.

Yes, we still p…s one another off – of course we do! We’re a normal family, with our mood swings and bad days. But we have time to think about forgiveness, too, in-between calls, and next time we chat or write, we do ask for it. Without fault!

I think love is deeper, and every emotion in fact is stronger when distance is involved. The routine of having one another there and taking each other for granted has almost completely become foreign to me!

The way we’re located is typically like this: me - in The US, my sister – in Montreal; my parents – in Romania (my sister’s in-laws - in Germany but I’ll leave them out for this piece). Because of the new baby in Montreal, mom has been stationed for the next two months to help my sister get a start on motherhood. So, that leaves dad alone, at home, for two months.

Now, my dad is a God given, I think, to any house! He is a very responsible, totally a chore man! He does anything and everything in the house, minus mopping and ironing (he would gladly go without either of those, if mom were not around). Everything! (hence my difficulty in respecting men who argue about taking trash out!). He cooks more than my mom, with a passion I have never seen in any other human (maybe Emeril comes close), and if he is not the point person in all the house chores, he helps mom 50% or more with everything!

So, if he misses mom, now that she’s away, it’s not because there is no one there to cook him a hot meal, or make the bed in the morning. No, he misses her because his lonely, and he has no one to listen to him blab (if you ever wonder whom I take after, never do anymore: it’s definitely him!).

And the blabbing daughter that I am myself, I can relate to him: the best part of the day for me is to come home and to tell “someone” about every little detail in my existence in the past 10 hours. That’s where mom comes in for dad.

Now, he comes home to an empty house, and he’s so melancholy and lost. Very rarely, he will carve up a couple of minutes of his busy days, and write us a line about how he is doing.

But when he does, his letters are so emotional, and so full of love! When mom and dad are under the same roof, there is nothing but arguing and nagging. But now, since he’s far away from her for so long, he’s lost without her. And the love seeps through. These are some snippets from his last 2 letters:

June 6. I am writing for both the 5th and the 6th, as I don’t have time to do it every day.

Yesterday, I shopped in the morning. Then, I took a nap, and in the afternoon I cooked for tomorrow, when I invited a few friends for dinner. (…)

June 7. The guests arrived around 4 and left around 9. This was the menu I prepared for them: ham, 2-3 kinds of cheeses, meatloaf, olives and caviar, eggplant salad with fresh tomatoes, stuffed grape leaves and polenta, grilled chicken, sausages and cabbage salad, sautéed lamb chops, roasted potatoes, tiramisu, ice cream and fresh cherry preserves, and various fruits from the back yard. To drink, we had tzuika, cherry liqueur, white and red wine, beer and water. All I was missing at the end was a check for all my efforts. I had planned this for four people, but I ended up with 8, so, it’s a good thing I cooked a lot. (…)

(then, he goes on and on about how he helped other friends with their cars and water heater, etc).

This is the story of my two days of loneliness. Other than that, all I can say is that I am alone in this immensity, which is our house; our house which is now empty of our discussions, and our fights, and our love for each other, empty of our routines. Sometimes I feel like she (my mom) is in the office working on the computer and I start talking to her, out loud. Other times, I reach for her in bed, at night, hoping to find her … And this is just the beginning of my loneliness, and maybe I’ll become used to it.

It’s tough. But everything has an end.

I wish you all much health, lots of pounds to Patrick (the new baby), (…)a peaceful heart to A. (me), and to An. (mom), lots of happiness amongst her children and with her new grandson. Bye, kids, and much love.

June 8. (after giving us details about all his accomplished chores: farmers’ market, church, another set of guests, etc). The life of a lonely man can be tumultuous and full, indeed. Full of aloneness, that is. As you can tell, there is no room for boredom. But room for a woman?! Room for my woman?? Where, I wonder, is she?!”

Yeah, he’s a goof, too. Anyways, no matter how we are spread all over the world, we miss each other, and love each other that much more. And we pretty much write each other every day (except for dad who writes every other day or so, but consolidates his “reports” so we won’t miss any of his daily happenings). Even apart, we always keep each other in mind.

And, trust me, dad, I feel your pain!

Not only “the life of a lonely man” can be “tumultuous and full”, but also that of a lonely woman. And no matter how much activity fills my days, the joy of relating that to someone at the end of it is still missing. That’s why, I never go do bed anymore, before I email my parents and my sister. Every day, with religiousness, and with love. Because I need my 2 minutes of updates to all. And that’s what family and love should be all about.

Communication and love wishes.

And with that being said, I hope one never looks at this, as a simple truism; it’s just so much deeper than just that: “Distance makes the heart grow fonder “.

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