Thursday, January 16, 2014

Musings of a Non-Biz Traveler en Route to an Interesting Weekend in SEA

I don’t travel much. Like hardly ever. It’s not that I dislike it, conceptually. It’s more of an opportunity issue where I work in a sector that doesn’t require it of me and my family rarely travels for leisure or otherwise. So what would a non-biz traveler have to say that is significant to be read.

NOTHING. And you may stop reading there. But for those that love drivel, I may be able to oblige.

One of the advantages of a non-biz infrequent traveler is perspective and non-complacency. I enjoyed, somewhat, the pre-boarding routine that I would have to imagine most biz travelers abhor. The vantage point I held in the seat allowed me to take in the gambit of travelers: the biz, the consultant, the pharma rep, the group biz traveler that is all about the party and pomp, and as it’s Thurs I did notice one traveler with his young daughter (I couldn’t tell whether he was an awesome dad taking her on a boring biz trip or if it was just for fun but way to go dad guy!). 

I got this really odd impression that I was alone in my endeavor and classification. The lone, non-biz traveler going home to say goodbye to his dad. Is there even such a traveler classification? There must be as I am he.

So what are my expectations of my weekend experience? Well, I have mixed emotions about it. I’m thrilled to see my mom and less so to see my dad. My dad is going downhill fast, may be on his last leg, is on hospice, is doped up and may not be able to have a coherent conversation with me. I fully expect my mother to ask me to administer a priesthood blessing to him and likewise know she’s hoping the blessing will call him home. Having done that before, as a young priesthood holder, it’s not a trivial or emotion-less experience. So when the time comes, I’m not really sure how I’ll respond, how I’ll feel. I only know that whatever God chooses to put into my heart and mind is what will be bestowed upon the man that taught me basically all I know about priesthood blessings.

As for family time, all of my siblings will be there. This should be interesting. I would foresee the gather something akin to a family reunion that occurs once every 5 to 10 years. Full of stories, downtime, laughing and when it’s all done, some relief to be done until the next time. But the experience with each sibling is markedly different from each other and requires some explaining.

I get along great with my brother and have kept tabs with him via txt, Facebook and formerly via e-mail. We aren’t omnipresent in each other’s lives but enough that conversation doesn’t run dry and we enjoy being around each other. We share a common love of soccer, having both played and both coached. I would consider him a die-hard enthusiast whereas (if you can believe it) I would consider myself more of an enjoyer of the sport, a lover of the development of the player as a person and likely less as a player and likely more balanced outside of the sport. But that’s what causes me to respect him all the more. He pours his whole soul into anything he does, whether work, soccer or family, and no one can deny his passion for his selected interest. We both work hard for our families and have been blessed with good careers. I didn’t realize it until he visited us in Texas a couple of years ago that we also share a common motivator - who is making more. It’s fun to be around him. Predictable - I’ll laugh, I’ll be in awe over his latest passion, and I’ll feel sorry that I’m not around him more. But the time will be well spent.

My sister is another story. We speak maybe once a year. We have little in common and the conversation is predictably the same. I used to be really close with her, sharing a few common interests in swimming and piano that allowed us to do both together. Things were great until we both grew up, got married and I had kids. The familial difference that comes through having kids became overwhelming for her as she could not and I believe it created a rift between us. It’s not a spoken chasm, but it exists and it’s uncomfortable. Honestly, while I love her, it can be painful to hear her stories as they don’t change. It feels like she’s been caught in the same existence for the last 19 years with little change. I wonder whether she even knows that time is passing us by. When we depart from each other, I usually feel sorry, not for the departure, but for feeling grateful it’s over for a while. I really struggle with how to improve the situation and commend my mother for her vigilance in her personal communication with her as I just don’t have that level of patience.

And then there is my other sister who is and isn’t my sister. She has always been a shadow, having only met her once in my life after I was married and had my first kid. You see, she is my father’s daughter but not my mother’s. She is the blessing of his first marriage but she’s been more of a name and not a face in my life. She’s as sweet as can be, is humble and full of grace. But she’s practically non-existent in my life. Sure, there have consistently been Christmas cards and while growing up gifts at Christmas as well. We even e-mailed for a time until my sending of fluffy, non-personal e-mails turned her off and the relationship broke apart before I could mend it. But oddly, she is the one I look forward to speaking with the most as I know her the least and oh what adventures she surely has to tell. She knows little of my family and so she’ll have plenty of questions for me as well. While making plans for this trip I called her, possibly the only time I’ve done so after leaving home. What I noticed in her aging voice (she is 19 years my elder), is time is precious to her and she takes it all in. A sigh, a thoughtful acknowledgement of what I’m saying and the temperament of an angel is what I’m perceiving her to have.  I look forward to being right on these accounts.

I’m sure the best part of the weekend will be spending time with Mom. I’ve written about her before. But I’ll say it again. I owe my life to her and I’ve ever grateful she had the courage to bring me into this world. I’m a little concerned that there will be some emotional conversations as I’m sure she’s on the breaking edge. It’s also never easy to see how she responds to Dad’s health issues as she can be angelic one moment and spitting fire the next. But her heart is right and she’s stood by him all these years and for that she must have a place reserved for her in the most glorious locations in heaven.

Too much to expect? Well here’s some more. I would imagine that my heart will be worn on my sleeve. I can already feel my emotions running wild. Some of that could be that I hate being away from my family and always feel a pressing urge to return home. I cannot easily relax without them and cherish them all the more in my absence. But in my dad’s condition, I know my feelings will be more than tender towards him realizing it may be the last time I’ll be able to say “I love you Dad” in mortality. For those that know the struggle that he’s had with Parkinson’s Disease, this isn’t a bad thing. It would be quite merciful should the Lord choose to take him home soon. But parting is not always such sweet sorrow; sometimes it’s just sorrow.

What I do not expect and pray that they won’t happen, is for my children to incur anymore health issues. I so desire a clean bill of health for my family as it seems that just as one is about to overcome whatever sickness or injury that another succumbs and we start over. Rebecca is on a first name basis with too many medical professionals and we need to be blessed to reverse that state of being.

And finally, the weekend will bring a lot of prayer, stewing and contemplation about a job offer. I’ll not go into the details but have no fear, we’re not moving. The change is desired but there is one drawback that is preventing me from accepting an offer. What I need is a spiritual confirmation that this is the right move. For any wishing to help in this plight, PM me and I’ll give ya the details.

So what’s on your agenda for the weekend? Half as exciting? I hope so and may it be fruitful for you as well.
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