It's a mixed day in the Gator household today. The day is a very happy one because our granddaughter turns 12 years old. The sadness is because we can't be part of the celebration. You see, she lives with her parents in a state very far away.
We don't get to see either our son or his family very often because neither of us can afford the cross country trip. We haven't been to the West Coast in about five years and his family hasn't been here in a couple. It's very hard to keep up with each other with such a distance between us. Somehow, e-mails, phone calls, cards and letters just don't make up for the absence.
Back in the 1990s our son began an internet relationship with a young woman he was tutoring in math. He had just graduated from a university. After a couple of years, he informed us he was flying west to meet the girl in person. We took the normal reaction to an announcement that an internet relationship could develop into a real one and offered him all the cautions we could think of why he should abandon this plan.
Naturally, he knew more than we and simply continued his visitation plans. After being there for a while, he returned home and informed us he was moving to the west. I found it hard to be critical of his decision. After all, 25 years earlier I left my parents in Florida to come to Maine. The reasons were similar.
The girl came here to meet and visit with us for a week or so and so she could accompany the lad on the trip west. It wasn't long before they were married and both continued their education. Both ultimately earned their Masters Degrees, his in mathematics and hers in environmental science. He also was accepted into the Doctorate program in mathematics, but then along came our granddaughter. Earning a living and supporting his family became more important to him.
We've only seen our granddaughter four times in her twelve years, three times out west and once here. But she does call us occasionally so we do get to speak with her. But we don't hold her, hug her, walk hand-in-hand with her, play games, watch her grow, and just plain enjoy her company as grandparents are wont to do. But she a part of our lives and today we wish our granddaughter a very happy 12th birthday.