When I was a child, visits from Grandma were joy-filled occasions. I loved her to the depths of my being and was thrilled she would be spending time with me (and my six siblings, of course). But her arrival did more than provide an opportunity to hug and squeeze this magical woman. Her arrival halted "normal" life in the family household and put us all into "happy" mode.
Grandma would arrive from North Carolina, usually by train because she had a fear of flying, with her stubby little bits of luggage in her stubby little hands. Despite the train ride, her ever-present wig would be firmly in place, her lips and cheeks would be freshly colored -- and her snuff box would be hidden away for later retrieval once the kids were in bed.
When Grandma came to town, Mom and Dad smiled more, fought less, and did their best to make everything appear good as gold in front of Mom's mom. The family would pile in the station wagon for scenic drives, with stops along the way to nearby tourist towns where we'd peruse the souvenir shops and Grandma would splurge for trinkets and ice cream cones for her grandkids.
When we'd return home, we'd have big meals around our big dinner table. There'd be big conversations in bright, happy tones, highlighted by heaps of smiles and warm fuzzies for all.
But Grandma's visits never lasted long, at least not long enough for me. She'd give her warm squishy hugs to each of us one by one then climb back into the station wagon for the trip to the train station. She'd wave goodbye from the window to us kids in the driveway. And as they pulled out, the tears would start rolling down my face.
"What are YOU crying about?" my tough older sister would snarl. But there was no way to put into words -- especially through the tears and limited vocabulary of a child -- that it pained me to the core to see Grandma leave. That I couldn't stand knowing she'd not be back for many months, if not years. It broke my heart that the party was over ... and that life in our household would return to normal. Suffice it to say that normal wasn't good.
I hope Bubby never cries when our visits are over. I want him to thoroughly enjoy the times we have together and for him to miss me when I'm gone. But I don't want his heart to break when I leave. I don't want him to be sad when his life returns to normal. I want his normal to be good.