Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Last Time We'll Ever...

by Sariah S. Wilson

Last weekend we went with my youngest brother through the temple for his endowment. (He left this morning for the MTC.) Being the oldest, I thought of all the other endowment sessions I'd been through with my siblings and my parents. I realized that it was probably the last time I would be able to do so.

Because my parents moved.

This was due to the current recession. My mother's been out of work for eight months, and my father works in a very unstable position. I imagine this is not how they thought their lives would turn out.

My parents have always been a great example to me that the heavens are not a cosmic vending machine. You don't put in your quarters (keep a commandment) and get back a Snickers bar (or a specific blessing). Sometimes you get the Snickers. Sometimes it's a Milky Way instead. Or it might be a soy/tofu bar, because even though you really want a Snickers, what you need is an organic treat. And sometimes the machine seems stuck and no matter how hard you bang on it, the candy bar doesn't fall.

Oftentimes in church we hear stories about people keeping a commandment and the amazing blessing they received as a result. Like the washing machine breaks and they can either pay their tithing or fix the washing machine, and they choose to pay their tithing Then the money to fix the washing machine suddenly appears either from an inheritance or a forgotten loan or just shows up anonymously through the mail.

This never happened to my parents. They would make the right choice, and not only did the money not appear for the washing machine, but then the brakes went out on the car.

My father worked at a large company for 19 years. He was a good, loyal, hardworking employee. His company merged with another, and his job was given to his equivalent from the other company. The women in his department where he was manager cried when they found out he'd been let go. He was older and in a very specific job in a very specific industry.

Things have been tough ever since. When my brother Adam went on his mission, everyone assured my parents that things would turn around. We heard a lot of “When my son went on his mission, our business boomed!” or they were given huge raises or unheard of bonuses – basically that they financially prospered by sending their sons out to the mission field.

The day my dad took Adam to the MTC, he got a phone call telling him he'd lost his new job.

The one constant was my mother's job in the office of a manufacturing company. In January she was downsized and despite her constant diligence and exceptional skills and talents, she still hasn't found a replacement position.

As a result of all this financial turmoil, they have moved to Utah to live with my sister (she lives alone in her own house).

I knew they had to go. I knew there was no other way for them to be okay. Things weren't getting better, and they had no hope or promise that they would get better.

As I've mentioned before, growing up I had no relationship with my extended family. We lived far away from most of our grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. I remember the few get-togethers we had were so awkward when they encouraged us to play with our cousins, who were essentially strangers to us. We've never had a relationship with them. Even now, at my sister's wedding in Nauvoo, I rode up the elevator with a cousin that I hadn't seen since I was four years old. I didn't even know who she was and didn't recognize her.

I didn't want that for my children. I wanted them to be close to their relatives. I wanted them to really love their grandma and grandpa. So we moved to Ohio after we got married so that could happen.

I have loved watching my kids grow up knowing and having a relationship with my family. I am grateful for the ten years we've had.

But it just doesn't feel like enough.

When I knew they were moving, everything took on a new sense of desperation and anxiety, a realization that THIS WAS IT – this would be the last time we ever did these things together. Even if we go visit them in Utah or they come back to visit in Ohio, things will never be the same. When my dad came over to build shelves, I really encouraged my sons to go help him, thinking the whole time that this was the last time they could help him with a project, and I wanted them to have that memory. Everything started to have this “last time, last time,” feeling to it.

At my oldest son's birthday I thought about how it would be the last time we'd all be together for one of my kids' birthday parties. At church last Sunday I thought of how it would be the last time I would see my father on the stand conducting, and have my mom behind me to hold and love my babies.

I know that my relationship with them will be unaltered. It will be different not having them here, but my heart aches for my children who adore their family.

At dinner last night, knowing it to be the last time we would eat together as a family for a long time to come, I thought of all the things I had anticipated they would be here for that they wouldn't now.

Like the first time my oldest passes the Sacrament. Or that his grandpa and uncles won't be here to help ordain him to the Aaronic priesthood.

That they won't be here for the second son's baptism.

Or that they won't be here the first time my daughter sings in a Primary program.

And that they won't be here for the baby's anything.

We will Skype and do our best to keep in contact. But I know it won't be the same. My daughter won't get to nestle against her grandma, lay her tiny head on her shoulder and say, “I love you too, Grandma!”

I worry that my kids will forget.

It made me think how often things in our life may be the last time we'll ever do something without even knowing that it is the last time. I feel grateful that I knew this was coming, so that we could enjoy and appreciate the moments leading up to the end.

Things will be different for them than it will be for me. My parents are going to a place that is full of other children and grandchildren, siblings and in-laws. I know that they will miss us, that they will always miss us and wish we were there. But there will be other people to help fill in that hole for them. But we won't have anything on our end like that.

And as a writer I have to appreciate the irony of being in the exact position that I never wanted to be in.

It will be hard. But we will be okay.


At 8/16/2009 12:23 AM, Blogger Janice said...

I grew up a state away from my grandparents. I got to see them for one week during the summer. I loved them with all my heart and never had any problem climbing on my grandpa's lap and telling him I loved him. I still have very fond memories of my grandparents. Not as many as my grandma that I lived closer to, but my love for them was equal.

At 8/16/2009 2:08 AM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

I'm sorry, Sariah. That must be so painful to say goodbye after ten special years of living close to them!

In the twenty years we've been married, the only time we've lived close enough to parents to see them regularly was when my husband was doing an internship in grad school for seven months and we lived in the same city as his parents. That was wonderful. Other than that, we look forward to vacations and family reunions!

At 8/16/2009 7:58 AM, Blogger Sariah S. Wilson said...

I know that I'm basing my feelings on my own growing up experiences. One grandmother hated my mother and made sure we knew about it at every gathering she attended, and my maternal grandparents basically weren't interested in being grandparents. So I never had any relationship with either one to speak of.

I know most people don't live near extended family and are just fine. I know we will be too. I'm just sad about it.

At 8/16/2009 11:59 AM, Blogger Karlene said...

Sometimes I think the dumbest thing I ever did was move 2,000 miles away from my parents. I can understand how you feel.

But now my kids are grown and they are close to their grandparents, despite the miles between them. A few things my parents did to help that:

Called every Sunday without fail and talked to each child.

Send weekly letters, with little notes to each child in them.

Sent holiday cards for all holidays for each child--including Halloween, St. Pat's, etc.

Send occasional thinking of you notes to one child.

It worked. When they see each other, it's always a rush to see who gets to hug G&G first.

It will be okay for your children. It will be harder for you. But it will be okay.

At 8/16/2009 1:14 PM, Blogger Jennie said...

Sariah, during the years one of my daughters and her family were at various military bases we seldom saw each other, but they bought two of those little cameras that attached to our computers. We not only instant messaged, even over seas, but we could see each other. When we did get to see our grandson, he knew us because of our almost daily Veo chats.

At 8/17/2009 9:38 AM, Anonymous Ardis said...

When I was a high school sophomore and my brother was a senior, we moved yet again. After a few weeks, my parents decided to send my brother back to the place we had just left so that he could finish high school with his friends; we wouldn't see him again for about six months.

In the week before he left, I remember going through similar feelings of "this is the last time our family will ..." and I actively made memories, and mourned for the change that would come to our tight-knit nuclear family, with all the angst of a teenager.

Things did change, but not forever, and not to our lasting harm.

I know your change is more drastic and is apt to last longer. But you'll adapt. Your parents must be as sad about leaving their established relationship with grandkids as you are to have them go, and they'll find a way to keep that relationship intact. Even though it will be different.


Post a Comment

<< Home