I went back to Pennsylvania with Lila a few weeks ago—and it was a special trip. I unexpectedly felt more connected to my hometown than ever before. I got to hug my nephews and spend time with my mother/father.
It has been almost two years since visiting—which is too long. I worry about going home—it can be scary. Why? I suppose it’s the irrational fear of a potential lost connection with my family due to the large gaps of time in between seeing each-other. Every-time I see them—my mother and fathers hair gets greyer, my nephews grow and the neighbors on the block I grew up with have vanished. Everything is changing.
When I get off of the plane and see my folks waiting—it’s like pressing the skip button on a DVD (does anyone use DVD’s anymore?)—except we’re not skipping chapters in a movie, it’s the chapters of life. I’m sure they feel the same way. Last time Lila saw them at the airport she was four years old—and the time before that, just two and in diapers. I’m not sure if I’m articulating my thoughts very well today—but to sum it up, time fucking flies by too fast.
I spoke about sacrifice in an earlier post. In order to be an active father, and be close to my baby girl—I have to be far away from my mother/father. My sixty year old parents can better understand and cope with my absence—more so than a little girl who had to grow up without a father. I love my Lila, and nothing will ever get between us. The trip home was just unexpectedly thought provoking and emotional.
With that said, I now must say that the most special aspect of the visit was seeing Lila connect with her cousins and grand-parents. Immediately she felt at home in my parents’ house. My mother had a smile from ear to ear the whole trip. Saying things like:
“Oh she is such a sweet and beautiful girl, Leif”
“Look how well behaved she is, Leif.”
“She is just so precious.”
My mom was in heaven when she took Lila to Kohl’s to shop. My mom is used to shopping for her four grand-sons—so it was a nice change of pace shopping with her grand-daughter. My parents are very special to me—and it was so nice to give them hugs, see them in person and watch them connect with Lila. By the second day of the trip Lila was calling them “grandma and grandpa” again. She didn’t want to leave.
Oh, Pennsylvania—in a lot of ways I miss you. And in so many ways, each time I visit, a piece of me wants to stay—but I eventually come to terms with the reasons I left in the first place. Oh Pennsylvania, you will always be home.
“Bolts of lightning, flashes,
Thunder rumbles, then it crashes,
Been a while since I heard that sound,
Since I’ve been to that side of town,
Night sky, darkness blankets,
Bugs glow, children catch, bats dive,
A Pennsylvania night, the critters thrive.”