Whenever I have to say goodbye to someone…no matter what the reason, I find myself thinking about how hard it is to say goodbye. It doesn’t matter if it is because of a death or because of a long parting. It’s just hard. My husband, Bob Schulenberg and I spent the last two weeks visiting with our daughter, Amy Royce and her family, and the goodbyes, which started Sunday night and continued to Monday morning, when we actually left to head home we’re tear-filled and full of heartache. You would think that I would be used to these goodbyes, but the fact is that you never get used to the goodbyes. Every goodbye includes a little bit of mourning.
Every time I think of Amy’s family, if feel a little sadness, because there is so much I miss and so much I miss out on. I’m happy that they are happy where they are, but sad for us. I have known that Amy wanted to live near the ocean, from the time she graduated from high school. That was hard, and I’m thankful that they waited until their kids were grown, so that I could be close to Shai and Caalab. Now they all have careers they love, and the girls are even insurance agents, just like I was. My grandson, Caalab has found the love of his life there. We all love Chloe Foster so much. And we couldn’t be happier about their relationship. The whole family is all happy there, and that is what matters. Amy hated the winters here, and sometimes, I can fully understand that. They can be brutal. The climate in western Washington is much milder.
Nevertheless, it is just so hard to say goodbye and leave them there…so far away. We love to go for visits, and we always have such a great time. In Washington, we can do so many things that we can’t do in Wyoming. They have taken us on whale watching tours, and harbor cruises. We like to go to the beaches, and sometimes the cities too, but the congestion in the roads is not so fun. In Wyoming, we have wide open spaces and a beauty of a different kind. We have the ease of life that comes from living in a less populated state. I could go on and on about the differences, pluses, and minuses of each state, but the reality is that half my family is in Washington and half is in Wyoming, and every time the two halves meet, there is a goodbye that follows. It is never easy to say goodbye. In fact it is just so hard to say goodbye, and I really hate goodbyes. I always will, but I love my family, and I will always accept the goodbyes, if it means getting to see them. That’s all that matters. Seeing my kids.
Funerals so often become a type of sad family reunion. Family and friends, who have drifted apart, now come together to say goodbye to a loved one or friend, and wish there had been a just a bit more time to reconnect, before the passing of their loved ones. Everyone lives a busy life, so time always seems to slip away, and before they know it, someone they cared about very much is gone. No one ever means to let the time between visits slip away, and yet I can name two grandfathers right now, who moved away from the state their parents lived in, and it ended up being the last time they saw their fathers alive. In those days, there were more situations in which the children moved away, never to see their family again. The distances were just too far to travel back and forth, like we do these days. Those parting goodbyes were much more sad, because they were real goodbyes.
When my great grandfather, William Malrose Spencer left Iowa with his family to move to Wisconsin, he had no idea that it would be the last time he saw his dad, Allen Spencer. Obviously, anytime we leave a person’s presence, it could be the last time we see them, but it is far less common when living in the same town than living several states away.
It looks to me like my great grandmother my great grandmother, Henriette Hensel, went back to Germany only once after she immigrated to America with her sister and her brother-in-law. Her husband, my great grandfather, Carl Schumacher went back to visit, but taking the entire family again would have been quite costly, so he went alone. I’m sure they were very happy to see him and hear about their life, but it was nevertheless, most likely the last time. I’m sure my great grandmother was sorry she couldn’t go, but by then she has Rheumatoid Arthritis, and travel was difficult.
Even in this day and age, of easy travel, a move far away could prove to be the last time a family gets to see the departing loved one, but thankfully with things like the telephone, Skype, FaceTime, email, and Facebook, staying connected isn’t as difficult as it used to be. It doesn’t replace the reunions, because one on one time spent with loved ones is so important, but it is better than the way things used to be. Somehow, a letter from home is not quite the same as being able to see them in person, or at least via Skype or FaceTime.