Wednesday, March 12, 2008 -- Vancouver, WA
About 21 years ago, a young business manager along with his wife and growing family moved from the Midwest to the Portland, OR area. It wasn't an easy move as they'd spent almost all their years in the Midwest with friends and family nearby and roots growing deeper in the soil as time went on. But they were brave, unafraid of new adventure, and willing to try making a home in a new, far-off, part of the country.
I was that young manager.
It doesn't seem like 21 years have passed since that January weekend when we flew to Portland with the kids and ultimately made the decision to accept the job transfer. We bought a home, got involved in the community, the kids went to school, and we made our life here in the Portland suburb of Vancouver, WA, for the next 8 years. We grew to love this part of the country -- the mountains, rivers, the recreational opportunities, the spectacular Oregon coast, the clean evergreen scented air.
But the demands of business and a career tore us away from the Northwest after just 8 short years -- back to the Midwest. Our daughter, Andrea, graduated from high school that same year and stayed in Washington to attend college. It was a difficult adjustment for her, alone and without a familiar and close family safety-net. It was a tough period of separation for us too. In pensive moments I question my decision to leave the Northwest. If I had to do it again, with the perspective I now have, I'd probably decline the promotion and transfer, and stay. But time only moves in one direction and the past can't be changed.
Andrea graduated from college, met a great guy named Gage, got married, and settled back in Vancouver. Almost three years ago the next generation began with the arrival of our first Grandson, Ryan. The distance and separation from these guys is hard on us. When we got out to see them in the past, it was for a long weekend, or maybe a week, but a short and intense visit which can be disruptive to established family-life patterns. The hardest thing is being separated from little ones like Ryan -- they develop and change so fast. You want to be a part of their lives and photos and phones calls just don't cut it.
This visit, which will be the better part of two months, is different. We brought our own "house" this time to which we can retreat at the end of the day. Little Ryan thinks the camper, which he calls our "bus-house", is cool and is getting used to enjoying his afternoon naps there. After just a few days, it's beginning to feel like we "live" here again. We want so much to be a part of our Vancouver family's lives but do so without smothering them.
While we're here, our family will grow again. Andrea and Gage are having their second child in about two weeks. I've got my smelling salts ready and am going to savor being close (but not too close) for this wonderful event. Dar's really looking forward to helping out as much as she can in those busy weeks after the birth.
I know the time here will go fast. Before we know it, we'll be on a crooked path back to the Midwest again. You see, we're still separated from our Son, Justin, who's planning to be married in August to a wonderful young woman named Kaytlyn. And we're still separated from our Moms and Dads, brothers and sisters, and many others.
You may think we embarked on this fulltiming adventure just to see the country. That's part of it. The rest of the reason is to be with our family, and friends, wherever they may be.