When Grandma Can’t Be There: The Reality of Living Far From Home
I just got back from three whole weeks in California. We did so many fun things. We went to Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, Sea World, the Beach, and more. We also spent a lot of time with family.
We stayed with my family and my husband’s family came down to see us so we got to hang out with them too. My boys got to spend time with both Grandmas, Grandpa, their Uncle, their aunt, their great aunt, and their cousins.
Being able to spend this time together was very much needed. In February of this year, my family suffered a tragedy and lost my sister-in-law to suicide. I knew I wanted to visit in July before this happened but once it did, I knew I had to.
Life is shorter than we realize and nothing is guaranteed. I thought I would have plenty of time in the future to see my sister-in-law and I didn’t. So I planned a three week trip to California this summer and I hope I can do that again in the future.
We live over 2,000 miles from both of our families.
We moved away because of choice, we stay because we haven’t figured out a way to afford to move back. California is one expensive place.
If you are an active duty military family, you most likely will also be far from home. Maybe you are a few states away, but life makes visiting difficult. Maybe you are on different coasts, and visits are few and far between. Maybe you live in Europe, experiencing an overseas PCS, but part of you is still back home in the states.
We have been lucky over the years. Family has been able to visit us. When we were in Germany, all three living grandparents were able to visit with us there. They have also been able to take trips out to Tennessee to see us where we live now. Hopefully, there will be more in the future.
Right before we left for the airport to return to Tennessee I made a comment on Facebook about how I was looking forward to going home but I didn’t like that it was so far away from my family.
When I was in high school I couldn’t wait to leave. Two months after graduation I moved nine hours away to go to college. I have always wanted to live other places and experience how other people live.
But all of this independence comes with a cost.
Not living close to family means you can go years without seeing them. Yes, years.
Not living close to family means you are the cousins the rest of the family doesn’t really know, and that sucks.
Not living close to family means that each visit has a time limit and you can’t help but be aware of it.
Not living close to family means you will miss birthday parties, Christmases, Thanksgivings, and important events you otherwise wouldn’t have.
Not living close to family means you have to work that much harder at staying connected through the miles.
Someday we will hopefully live close to our families again. Someday we won’t have to miss them so much. And that is what I keep in mind when we say goodbye.
I am happy with my life here in Tennessee. We like our neighborhood, we like our church, we like the boy’s schools and the military community that surrounds us. This place has a lot to offer, but my family is simply too far away for me to be able to fully dig my roots into it.
If I think about everything we are missing, I can get pretty sad about the situation. I know my family is missing so much about my boys growing up.
I don’t even know what it would be like to have Grandma in the same town as us. I don’t know what being close to family on a day to day basis would be like.
I do know that so many military and even non-military families are living their lives away from their loved ones.
Those of us that are living far away have learned what we can do to make that distance a little bit closer. Calls and Facetime can help. Care packages can send love over the miles. Visits with one another are a must. And there is always hope that you will be able to move (or get stationed) close by them in the future.