A lonnnng usually vomit filled car ride away.
My experience with road vomit at this point in my life should be something I could put on a resume.
I should be at the trauma level of nursing, I have so much experience with car sickness.
On one trip alone, my youngest vomited six times.
At one point, I should have almost worn scrubs and those clear shields that the emergency personnel wear on those medical shows when I traveled anywhere outside of the Chicago city limits.
Mom and Dad have been gone for almost 11 years in two locales, first living almost four hours away in Central Illinois, then moving to Tennessee which became an 11-hour drive.
We were devastated for so many reasons that they were moving away but knew that we would, of course, be getting down there come hell or high water, and vice versa.
It has been a long 10 years, as you can imagine but we have had fun getting through the miles.
We have met in the middle to see Big Brown.
I got on the train from hell.
We watched our girls fall in love with the south.
We spent Christmas in the mountains and fell in love with it ourselves.
We got to spend time with Mamie AND wear shorts in March.
And back in November, we made that 11 hour drive for the last time.
Because as amazingly beautiful and warm and all of the wonderful adjectives that Tennessee can be described by, it was far, far away from all of us.
You may remember earlier this year, I wrote about my dad retiring from the career that took him and my mom many miles away from us.
It was a couple of months after his retirement that they started getting the itch.
Why are we here?
Not the WHY ARE WE HERE in life itch but seriously, why are we in Tennessee when all of our children and grandchildren are in the Midwest?
Because as nice as the weather is in the south, and believe me, it is nice, it doesn’t bring the grandkids soccer games to you, it doesn’t give you hugs, it doesn’t bring love, joy, and sloppy kisses.
Well, unless you have a dog.
I AM GETTING AWAY FROM THE POINT.
They were tired of missing out.
Tired of not being able to attend concerts, tired of not being able to be there for birthdays, anniversaries, the change of seasons, holidays.
No amount of warm weather and friendly people in the world was worth missing all of that.
So my parents said goodbye to the south last week, said goodbye to their beautiful home, said goodbye to the warm weather, packed up everything they owned and moved “back home” to Illinois.
I would like to point out that we got no snow all of February.
And it snowed twice the week they moved up here.
Of course, it did.
The home they moved into is smaller than the home they left, by choice as they wanted to downsize but still, I realize the sacrifice they are making to be closer to the family.
The day before they moved in, my mom and I were at the house alone cleaning in preparation for the movers.
It was a gorgeous sunny day and it was so nice to be in the house together alone, anticipation all around, flitting from room to room, talking to each other from one end of the house to the other.
At one point, my mom made lunch for the two of us: roast beef sandwiches, pickles, and chips.
We were sitting in lawn chairs eating our sandwiches, which tasted better than any sandwich I have ever had because my mom made it when my mom said something to the effect of her being so happy and so glad they did this.
I don’t remember what I wore that day, I don’t remember what day of the week it was, but I will always remember that moment for the rest of my life.
The sunny kitchen, the lawn chairs, the sandwiches and the time alone with my mom.
Their new home is nice and will be beautiful once my mom and dad put their touches on it.
I even said to my mom, “it smells like both of you now!” once their things were moved in.
The smell of coffee, spices, and love.
These movers were pretty great.
They hugged my mom before they left and told her that if they wanted to move back to Tennessee, they would “come back and get them”.
NOT A CHANCE.
That is unless I go too.
My mom and I made sandwiches for the movers for lunch and they told us over and over how much they appreciated it.
On the way out the door, the one man said, “rarely does someone provide us lunch, so thank you so much”.
What has become of us as a society?
Hardest working people out there.
Feed your movers, friends.
Moving isn’t pretty.
It smells like cardboard, sharpie markers, paper, and despair.
It looks like the above.
And like this.
It dawned on me that my parents did this all alone the last two moves because we were far away.
Then I also realized that my mom did most of the unpacking by herself because my dad was still working.
The first time they moved, she was doing it all alone while taking care of her 100-year-old mother, and nursing some massive homesickness and heartache.
It made me appreciate her even more than I already do.
My husband bought this cake at the bakery, which wouldn’t seem at all abnormal really but it was the gesture behind it.
He went out the morning of the move, with everything else he had been doing….running up to their house and shoveling the driveway, transporting cars, helping out around our home and of course, working his job…….and bought this cake.
He took the cake from the case, walked to the bakery and asked them to write Welcome Home on it.
Now, I know maybe to some that isn’t a big deal but to me it meant everything.
I didn’t even think to get them a cake but my husband did and it made me love him just a little bit more that morning.
Two days after they officially moved in, friends or what we like to call “Illinois Family” came over to help move furniture around and assemble and put up light fixtures.
So much love in that house on that day, for my parents, for them being there and for the togetherness.
This is Jake who has been in our lives since he was a baby.
He won’t ever get rid of us.
He is going to become a police officer when he graduates so my mom and I are trying to convince him to work in their town so my mom can feed him lunch every day.
It really is a good deal because damn if those roast beef sammiches aren’t good.
Later on that night, my mom and I were unpacking in their dining room when we discovered some bubble wrap.
My mom has always loved popping bubble wrap, so much so that we would buy her rolls of it for Christmas as a gift.
It wasn’t her only gift….geez.
Well, it must be genetic because Ella could spend hours popping bubble wrap as well.
So that evening, by campfire lantern light, the two of them were talking and popping away.
I had to grab my phone to document it.
It is these moments that I am so grateful for.
Thank you, Tennessee and Metamora for taking good care of my Mom and Dad for the past ten years.
You have been so kind and loving to them but now it is our turn.
We promise to love on them as you have for so long.
And every now and again, we will let you have them back.
If only for a little bit.