We hear a lot these days about staying grounded, staying in the moment; how important it is that we take each moment as it comes, and don’t get bogged down with woulda, coulda, stuff that happened in the past and can’t be changed, however much we wish it could. I think that as you go through life, many of us are lucky enough to find someone who can help us with that, that anchor who ties us to the now, keeps us from playing “what-if” too often. I see that in my parents’ relationship, have witnessed it my whole life, and I think that I finally have that mirrored in my own. Life can get rough, and very tricky at times, but that anchor can keep you tied to where you want to be, where you should be.
Families have anchors, as
well; that one central figure that holds everyone together, keeps you
from drifting too far apart as you all make your own way in life. It is
far too easy to get caught up in the day to day, caught up in your own
little world, and lose touch with those who are an important part of
your life. Weeks become months become years, and before you know it
it’s been far too long without seeing someone who you care about. The
gravity of that central figure keeps you in orbit around them, so even
as you move in your own life, you are kept in contact with others around
that same figure.
My family lost that central figure
almost twenty years ago now. My Papa passed away in 1994, far too soon
despite his 85 years. I’ve now lived almost half my life without him,
and yet he still looms so large in my thoughts; I see his shadow in my
Dad, a legacy that I long to live up to in my own life, as a father, and
as a man. That legacy is intimidating at times, as I find my own way
in life, but I know both Dad and Papa are there for me, supporting me
every step of the way.
Since Papa died, his family has
certainly drifted apart, at least from where we were. I still see my
family on occasion, and thoroughly enjoy their company when we get
together, but the gaps in between are larger and larger as time goes
on. While it’s often like we’ve never been apart, children get older,
lives change, and we drift. The last few years weddings and milestone
birthdays have served to bring us together, but there aren’t likely to
be any more of those in the very near future; we will need to find our
own reasons to keep in touch.
This past weekend was a
time for me where I felt that pull very strongly. Seeing almost the
entire Watson family I felt his presence with me the entire trip.
Driving by the old house in Cumberland, showing Lizzie where her Grampa
grew up; the house that Papa bought when he came back from the war, that
he lived in for the rest of his life. Stopping for donuts at the
bakery up the street, as we did when we were kids. Of course, it’s no
longer Auchterlone’s, and the donuts just don’t measure up to my
memories; I’m not sure that they could, to be honest, no matter how good
they are. Childhood memories like that are hard to beat.
Getting up to Gold River after faaaaar too many years, I felt him
again. My last time there was a fishing trip to Friendly Cove, where
Dad and I went with Papa, Shane and Brian. My first time on the open
ocean was my first time getting seasick, as apparently growing up in
Agassiz didn’t prepare my stomach to handle the up and down, up and
down, up and down of fishing out there. We caught a couple cod that
day, and Brian filleted one of them on the spot, tossing the rest of the
fish out of the boat to be picked up by a circling bald eagle. That
day was very firmly imprinted on my memory, and returning to the place
brought it all back more strongly than I could have guessed.
I felt the pull of family this weekend, and felt as strongly as ever
how lucky I am to be part of such a friendly, loving, generous family.
The Comox Valley felt like a long lost home; I haven’t lived there in 34
years (god that makes me feel old), but it was so familiar, so full of
memories, that for the first time I understood how my parents longed to
go back there after so long away. Home is where your family is, where
your roots are; my parents have provided that for so long in the Fraser
Valley, it has always been home. And yet, as time passes away from
there, I realize that without them, Agassiz holds little pull these
days. I’ll drive through it on occasion forever, probably, drive by the
old houses where I lived and see how the town is doing, but even now it
feels more like somewhere I was, once, and less like home. Home is
Vancouver, now, but I suddenly feel like that could change someday, as
well. Who knows, I could eventually follow my parents over to the
island. After a long time away, I suddenly feel that gravity again.
I missed it.