Just as you get used to them again, they’re gone.
Jonathan and I had such a renaissance last fall after both daughters were moved out — visiting Prague and London and Wales and Berkeley and Stanford, then B.C. I went from being an agoraphobic afraid of the Toronto subway system to a voracious (well, peckish) traveller. Then both girls moved back in for the summer. Our tension as a family was as taught as piano wire on the first day both were here. Jessica and her boyfriend Tom moved their furniture into the basement and Hannah, who had come a little earlier, prepared to do volunteer work at the Hospital for Sick Children. The younger generation was worried that they would be treated like children. The older generation was worried about the same thing.
I’ll be honest, there were a couple of blow-ups. The most memorable one for me involved hearing Hannah complain that no one visited her at her job at the Royal Ontario Museum (she’s a busy girl). “I’m out on Philosopher’s Walk with the kids every day from 12:15 on.” I tucked that into my brain somewhere and when Jonathan got delayed for a lunch date with me, I took the tuna sandwich he’d asked me to order and went into the museum. It was one o’clock, but no matter, I’d find them. Several nice young people took me on various secret elevators and down corridors until I saw through the glass Hannah, reading to a group of five-year-olds who were all ears. “Hannah, your mom is here,” someone said, and I quietly took a seat at the back. Not too much fanfare, that’s my style.
The reading went on for a long time and Hannah, because she was concentrating so intently, never looked up at me. From time to time she directed a few other counsellors to do something or other; wow, she’s really in charge here, I thought. After the story was finished, the kids lined up to go outside. Was she coming over? I looked at her and realized she was furious. “I brought you a sandwich,” I showed it to her.
“I hate tuna,” she said.
Well, by the time Hannah got home that night I had built up a nice head of steam about how she wanted us to visit and how ungracious she was to her mother. Then she told me that she is the head of a seriously sized group of teenagers, and they had teased her about my visit for the rest of the day. We sorted it out well. But I couldn’t help memories of the glorious look on her face that came if I ever picked her up early from school, or showed up unexpectedly in her little life. Those days are over. But they’re gone because she’s proud of what she does. Can’t fault that.