One of the best things about spending vacation time at the family estate in the Maritimes is leaving again. My official welcome of "Looks like you put on some weight" forced an immediate reaction - a quick shrug of my shoulders, the biggest smile I could muster and then I let her have it with both barrels, "Hi Mom".
It's a good thing I've learned to chew on my animosity until it's broken down into bite size pieces and save it for later. My mother's mutterings are never as important as my focus on the other players in the game, the promise of assorted fried foods and the well nigh essential drinks.
My sister the Sister, and assorted other siblings and family members dug in and helped with the navigation through stories and updates of our follies past and present and those of family members foolish enough not to be there to defend themselves. Photo albums filled with markers proving the passage of time were reviewed, new poses were struck and we ate, drank and made merry.
When I visit, I stay with one of my sisters and her family because as hinted at above, I'm no longer small enough to fit through the door of my parent's apartment. She's a saint and everyone seems to land on her doorstep looking for respite. I believe she may be a bit closer to God than my sister the penguin.
My folks are aging faster than I'd ever imagined they could and in a weak moment, realizing that the next time everyone is together might not be for the happiest occasion, I suggested we plan a reunion. The immediate responses of "I don't think so" and "No friggin' way" caught me off guard. I thought I was the only one that found these gatherings so draining.
Coming back after any trip, I enjoy the way the world comes slowly into focus during the descent through the clouds. Subdivisions promise a neatly laid out model for living, swimming pools glint semi-preciously in the sunlight, cars perform strange migrations around off-ramps and rows of school buses rest parked together like so many No. 2 pencils. I feel at peace looking down at everything and wait for the crunch of tires on asphalt to signal the start of my next episode in this strange life.