Bret left Paris on Sunday. The Lone Wolf and I stood on the cold and dirty street blowing her kisses as the van pulled away. I watched my daughter leave, knowing in my devoted heart that I already missed her.
Bret didn't want to go home. Not really. She liked being here with her mama taking care of her--and she deserved the respite. Bret graduated from college with honors on December 17th in Little Rock, Arkansas (and is looking for a job in media...any ideas?). Then Bret, her sister, Blair, and I flew to San Francisco, where darling Blair lives, to spend the holidays with each other, their dear step-brother, and his family.
While we Arnold women (I like to think of us this way, even though that is not their last name) went West, the Morgan Lone Wolf, his brother, and son drove East to reconnect with family and friends in the bosom of Mississippi. They got on very well for a pack of men on this road trip that took them across the Mississippi River at Memphis. They ate steaks and drank bourbon, caught up on gossip and with each others' lives. They eyed the physical changes and atrocities the last few years had wrought--and heard about the hand-guns some of their Southern kith were now carrying--including one who is a former drug addict. (It's the South, buddy, you can't make this stuff up.)
Then the Lone Wolf met up with us women folk again in San Francisco, where we got on with our family celebrations, which have become new traditions in this laid back city on this Pacific bay. And we got into our rhythm that syncs us up with our family and friends on the West Coast. One thing is true about us, and anyone who sees us together immediately gets it: We are a family who likes to have a good time, which we definitely do when we're together. We take great pleasure in each others' company.
Believe me. It's a treat for us all to be in one country much less in one city, in one apartment or house, shoulder to shoulder or cheek to jowl. This time is nothing less than precious--but it's also no picnic. While we're in the United States of America, L.W. and I are constantly playing catch-up--with our nearest and dearest, friends, business. We're getting ready for Christmas...more...there's always more. And because our family doesn't have many chances to see each other the rest of the year, our time together is what Bret calls "intense."
So even though I'd just spent 3 1/2 weeks in the U.S. with her--and Blair, who we wish had gotten to come here as well. I knew exactly what Bret meant about wanting me to take care of her. Our time in the States was too hectic for anyone to rest or for too much personal attention. In a way, the holidays couldn't be a worse time to try to bask in each others' fine company and relax as if we were on a vacation.
When my own mother was living, I would go to her house in the small Arkansas town where I grew up for a visit and R and R that only a mother's comfort can issue. I would sleep in the bed of my brother Brent who was dead, while my children slept in mine. While I was at my mother's house that she and my father built, I wouldn't want to leave--even to give her a break by having a meal at one of our town's hearty Southern restaurants.
My full desire was to hide under my mother's skirts, in her secure walls and eat the delicious food she cooked--and to feel safe there.
Just like Bret wanted from me.
Beth Arnold lives and writes in Paris. To see more of her work, go to www.betharnold.com. She is a lover of Skype and the video chats she has with friends and family on it.