A while back, my parents came to visit. I mentioned their visit in a post. I did not, however, explain how grateful I am to have such wonderful parents.
I don't think it ever crossed their mind that I would marry a military man. What parent dreams their daughter will marry a solider? I don't know of any and I'm not sure I would wish it for my daughters. However, surprisingly to my parents, I married one and shortly thereafter, Matt and I moved far away (Alaska) and had two babies less than two years apart. My father traveled up to Alaska four times. My mother, twice.
Just when my parents thought we'd be back in the continental US, and a bit closer to home, (read: making it easier and less expensive to visit), our plans changed and we got stationed in Portugal.
Fact: My mother hates to fly. It can bring on an anxiety attack. She dreads the flight, worries incessantly about it, makes herself feel ill, and is unable to sleep on flights.
Fact: My father loves to travel, however, he's frugal.
All that being said, my parents were the first to get in line to book their trip to Portugal. Why?
First of all, despite not wanting to spend the money, despite my mother's fear of flying, despite limited time off from work, putting their grandchildren first is their priority. In the end, isn't having developed the best relationship possible and creating lasting memories with your family the most important? Despite the distance and cost?
Second, they remember, all too well, how difficult and expensive it is to travel with children. Small children at that. As all parents know, it can be nothing short of a nightmare to travel with children. Diaper changes on flights, screaming, uncomfortable, hungry, bored children. Overtired children. Sick children. Tired parents, grumpy parents. They know better than to guilt-trip us into visiting them. They know that it's much easier for two rational adults to travel long distances than it is two parents with small, unreasonable, young children.
My parents both got sick while visiting. My father would have liked to go on more outdoor adventures. My mother would have probably liked to have done a bit more shopping. But, they got to spend valuable time with their grandchildren. They got hugs and kisses and snuggles from two precious little girls. They were able to watch them play, read books to them, take them for walks and, simply, play with them. They got to see beautiful Portugal and visit with Matt and I.
My mother always tries to make me feel close to home. She's always thinking about me. For a few years now she's been keeping me stocked with Vermont Maple Syrup and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters coffee (I'm a Vermonter, if you haven't guessed). When she's out shopping, she'll call on her cell and ask if the girls need "this or that." She sends packages on, nearly, a monthly basis. Often with Vermont made products or gifts from local craft fairs or markets. She's even picked apples and sent them to me in Alaska. Ohhh, they were sooo good. Even if they were picked a week prior by the time they got to me.
So, Mom and Dad, thank you for going the distance. To finding a way to get to us no matter how far away we are and how much it costs. To never making us feel guilty about not coming home more often and about the things that are beyond our control (read: baby being born during an extension and me needing/begging for your help and for being stationed thousands of miles away from home twice in a row).
I hope that all of you reading, who live far away from family, whether in the military or not, have parents this willing and loving to make their children and grandchildren a priority - no matter the obstacles that they may be presented with.