My all-time BFF is my daughter, Sarah. I’m unlucky in that she lives in LA, 3000 miles away from me. Yet I’m also lucky because for 3 to 4 weeks every year, we get to live together, like roommates on holiday.
I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to spend day after day just hanging out with Sarah. Some days, on this trip, we went to visit family and old friends. Some days we went shopping. But most days, we just stayed home and played with the dogs, and each other. I’m so grateful to have such a delightful, caring and compassionate, intelligent, intellectually curious and interesting, funny, responsible and loyal daughter. It gives me great pride to feel that I played a part in creating this amazing person.
The past two visits, Sarah has been on an organizing binge in the attic. She is the family historian and genealogist. On the last visit, she went through bags and boxes of old photos and we organized them into chronological folders. This visit, we went through the family memorabilia that I had saved, from the early 1900’s down to the recent past. We found some awesome treasures.
We found a telegram congratulating my grandparents on their 1915 wedding! We found postcards from my mom’s 1936 honeymoon when she visited the family remaining in Russia. All of these Russian family members were all killed by the Nazis just a few years later. We found the 1946 Valentine’s card my mom received from her first husband, A.O. – the morning after he died of a massive heart attack. Enclosed in the card was a photo of him, which mom received while his body was still at the funeral home.
We also found letters between my mom and me when I was a teenager and was away from home. One letter from my mom gave me advice about how to deal with some of my fears and anxieties. Sarah was shocked because both the advice and the issues they addressed equally apply to Sarah today. Sarah didn’t realize how similar she is to the youthful version of me. So reading this letter was like getting a heart to heart talk with her grandmother, 16 years after her death. It was very moving for Sarah.
Sarah is also the one who encouraged me to write down all of the family stories that she had grown up hearing. She relishes these stories and actually reminded me of ones that I had forgotten. They have made up the bulk of my blogs for the past year or so. I have taken these 250 pages of personal blogs and arranged them in rough chronological order as a family history. I’m making copies to give to both my children so they have a prose record of their lives and of the familiar anecdotes from their ancestors’ lives.
Even when we’re not working together on family projects, Sarah and I never run out of things to talk about. We talk about politics, history, books, television and movies, mutual acquaintances, hopes and dreams and emotional baggage. We talk a lot about her childhood and about her father, who died in 2005. We understand each other on a deep and unique level that comes from sharing an intimate past. We can support each other in ways that other, non family members can’t. We try to motivate each other by gently pushing the right buttons. We tacitly acknowledge how difficult change, even moving forward, can be.
One of our shared interests is television. In fact, Sarah majored in Film and Television in college. So we watch a lot of TV and movies when we’re together. On this visit, we blitzed through “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and the second season of “The Crown”. We loved them both. Stories about other strong women resonate with us.
As usual, we laughed a lot. We’ve always had fun together, even when Sarah was little. We find each other endlessly amusing. We tend to see things in the same, often quirky way and often express things with a humorous twist. Tom fits perfectly with our humor profile, so we immensely enjoy our time together.
This may be unusual for mothers and daughters, but Sarah and I rarely argue – about anything other than ideas and intellectual opinions. There is no tension or undercurrent of negativity. We are genuinely relaxed and comfortable with each other. We have had periods of strain in the past, but never much and not for years.
We are also roughly the same size. So every year, Sarah goes ‘shopping’ in my closet. This time, she found enough clothes to fill the extra duffel bag she brought with her. This is the year I finally gave up on the idea that I’m ever going to wear all those nice dresses that have gone untouched for so long. On a previous visit, Sarah fell in love with my fur-lined Ugg slippers. I didn’t want to part with them, but I did. I bought myself a new pair.
This year I didn’t part with anything I still wanted to wear. So it was a win-win.
The down side of these glorious, intense visits, is they end.
When Sarah leaves after two weeks of 24/7 immersion, it’s like the air is sucked out of my world. It takes me days to readjust to my life without her.
I remind myself that even if Sarah lived nearby, we would rarely, if ever, get to spend this much concentrated time together, uninterrupted by work, family or the rest of life. These two-week periods are a precious gift that supersedes the real world. It adds something special to my life which I cherish with all my heart and soul.