Had a good cry this morning after I said goodbye to my Dad. He has been staying with us twice a month for 5 years now, as he travels to and from work in the Northwest Territories. This morning was the last time. I am, of course, thankful that he found work close to home and won't have to be away from his sweetheart for 2+ weeks at a time anymore. And his job in the north was coming to an end in the near future anyway. But how can I help but mourn his being an everyday part of my and my children's lives.
For the five years previous, we had lived 1200km away from my dad and we saw him very little. Maybe a couple times a year. My kids didn't really know him. It was like when I was a child, my grandparents live 2 days drive from us and we usually only saw them on summer vacation. I so wanted my children to know their grandparents, to adore them and have their influence in their lives.
When we moved to Edmonton from Calgary, that was a huge part of the decision making process. Brent's family lives here in Edmonton and it is much closer to my family as well. My mom and 2 sisters are only 5-6 hours away and Dad and my other sister are about 8 hours away. And when Dad started staying with us on his way to and from work, that was the very best part of our move for me.
He has held my babies as wailing newborns and played patiently with them as toddlers. He has put up with their preschooler antics and teenage attitude. He has been a marvelous support for me, quietly distracting a fussing child so that I could get some dinner on or giving my tired arms a break when my baby wanted to be held non-stop.
I can't begin to tell you how many stories he has read. Over and over and over again. When Girly was little, she would wait at the window for his arrival, books in hand. She knew that he was hers. She would take his hand in her teensy one, lead him to the couch and curl up at his side and he would read. And read. And read.
Just this morning, he was ready to leave - had already started his car - and Girly and Monkey said, "Papa, come downstairs and play Uno with us!"
Papa smiled and said resignedly, "Well, maybe just one game." 10 rounds later, when Girly finally won a game, he got up and started the good bye hugs. I got an extra one as Dad couldn't help but notice the tears glistening in my eyes.
I can't help but cry, because though I know there will be many visits in the future, I also know that their is no replacement for the beautiful gift he has give me and my children. His time. Precious, lovely time. Something that I am coming to understand is very finite.