Yesterday was the first day of school for my 3 granddaughters. The oldest is in the 3rd grade. The next, in 2nd. The baby girl is in kindergarten. Oddly enough, they’re all about the same height and build. The only thing that physically distinguishes the baby from the oldest is her baby teeth. They have me wrapped completely around their collective finger. These girls are my heart. No doubt.
This annual milestone has always been hard for me. Since they’re in OK (with the rest of my family) and I’m in NJ, the event has largely been one that I watch from a distance – via photos, video chats, etc. Every year, I send them “back to school” cards via postal mail, just so they know I’m thinking of them. It’s our tradition. And, while this year was just as difficult as any other, there’s such a sweet relief in knowing that I’ll be with them – permanently – in just a matter of months. Next August and each August thereafter, I’ll be there for the first day of school. I can experience their excitement (or dread) in real time. And nothing will make me happier.
I’m relocating to OK at the end of January/early February. That’s only 5 months away! Moving home is something I never thought I’d do. In fact, my standard response when anyone asked if I’d ever move back was, “Not willingly!” And I meant it! But, after being in NJ for nearly 20 years, it’s time. I’ve missed far too much by being so far from home. I miss my sisters, my brother, my nieces and nephews. I miss my son and my 5 grandbabies. I miss my parents, who are both now retired. I miss my aunts and uncles. And I miss my many, many cousins, 2 in particular who are like sisters to me. When I tell you all of my family is in Oklahoma, that’s exactly what I mean. ALL of them. As I’ve gotten older, family has taken on a new kind of importance to me. I am deeply rooted in them and they, in me. I need to be with them like I need air to breathe.
Oh, how I yearn for home.