Long Distance Love


After I married and had children I became a little jealous of my friends who lived near their parents.  In those families, grandparents held the tiny hands of grandchildren as they grew and grew.  Fortunately, I learned from my far-away mother how to be close regardless of living sixteen hundred miles apart.

Now eighty-five, Mom still travels to see us once or twice a year, refusing to let her slightly weak knee call the shots. While in her younger years she played with the kids up in the treehouse or down in the basement, these days they hang out together on the ground floor, playmates still. My mother has one more strategic method for growing connective tissue with her children and grandchildren: surprise boxes. She pours imagination and love into a package of “treasures,” each individually wrapped with notes personally addressed.  Even the Labradors are sometimes lucky recipients of a few canine treats.

Packages arrive for Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Fourth of July, and, especially, birthdays.  With great anticipation, our children have torn open her boxes and ripped apart tissue paper to reveal thematically chosen stuffed animals, jewelry, books, candy, decorations – whatever bit of whimsy caught her eye in her favorite shops – be they overstuffed dollar stores or tiny boutiques. Her boxes have even found their way to the mailroom at our son’s dorm and the cabin at our daughter’s camp with roommates and bunkmates in mind.

Recently my mother has begun to simplify her life by culling through her possessions. She now curates surprise boxes with family photographs or vintage keepsakes from my childhood. She has even begun taking bigger steps by packing shipping cartons and tagging select pieces of furniture with which she is beginning to part. Mom has always conveyed her long-distance love for us with every package she dispatches.  Each card or satiny box of chocolates is an expression of her generosity and affection. When the moving van arrives from her house to ours, a nearly empty nest, I know that her devotion to us will be packed with each item she has chosen to share.

To honor her secret box tradition, I am preparing our own carton of treasures for her this Mother’s Day.  As I wrap each gift and sign my card I, too, am sending love and gratitude. I realize that we have missed much by being so far away from her but I truly believe that geographic proximity is no guarantee for closeness and distance does not doom love.

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About Grown and Flown

Parenting from the Empty Nest
This entry was posted in Empty Nest, family, Grandparents, Mother's Day and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Long Distance Love

  1. belfman says:

    My parents has lived on the other side of the country from my children their whole lives and I too was always jealous of the families that had grandparents near by. The one thing my parents did early on was to embrace technology. They started emailing with their grandchildren and this was a wonderful way for them to know what was going on in their lives. The gifts and cards came too, but a quick email to say hello and ask the score of a game or the outcome of a test kept them connected. My 83 year old father now texts them from his I-phone!

    • Your Dad has learned the fastest way to reach all of our kids – through text messages. Technology has helped so much, but only if one’s parents aren’t intimidated about keeping up. Congratulations to your parents who clearly stay current!

  2. What a beautiful mom and grandmother…truly worthy of tribute on Sunday!

  3. happyoutlook says:

    Your post is a true testament to your wonderful Mom! What a heartfelt Mother’s Day gift for her.

  4. Anonymous says:

    You could have been talking about my grandmother. We have stayed connected all of my life through phone calls, visits, and lots of little gifts shared here and there, much like your surprise boxes. My grandmother is now 98 and hasn’t traveled in years, but I make a trip to see her at least twice a year. She is my rock!

    • What a wonderful relationship you have been blessed with your entire life! My grandparents lived until their late 70s-early 80s so I feel fortunate, but 98 is amazing. So sweet of you to travel to see her regularly. I imagine that it means the world to her.

  5. muddledmom says:

    My mother-in-law is big on these surprise boxes as well. And everything comes wrapped in tissue, neatly picked out for each recipient. Some people just have a gift for giving. We try it for her, but she does not like to be on the receiving end! Lovely post.

    • So true that some have a knack for creating these boxes of gifts. For every ten I’ve received, I have attempted one or two. The givers are usually as excited as those who receive. All is good spirit!

  6. I’m lucky because both my husband and my families all live nearby. We were considering moving to another state but once we had our little guy, we realized how much we needed them nearby 🙂

  7. This is such a sweet remedy for the distance. Thank you so much for sharing this post. Your mom is awesome and so very much like I hope to be with my grandsons. Distance is a challenge, for sure, but it’s not the end-all, be-all. Thank you for pointing that out!


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