It was 8:48 am and we were trying to leave Vermont; our planned departure time was long past. My mom and I were crying (of course) and CG and I kept forgetting one last thing (of course) and E had to pee one last time (OF COURSE). And, frankly, while we had been there two whole weeks, it's always hard to leave, no matter how long I've been there.

Z was waiting by the car, somewhat patiently, processing it all. "I'm SAD to be leaving Vermont! But I'm also HAPPY to be going home!"

"I know what you mean," I said, peeling my eyes away from my favorite view of the early morning sun dancing on the lake. "I feel that way too. It's called 'bittersweet', because you feel happy and sad all at the same time."

"Yeah," she said, thinking this one over. "But... what's bitter and what's sweet? Or is it ALL bitter AND sweet?"



My dad is sick. Pneumonia and hospitalization early in the summer. Supplemental oxygen. A walker. A wheelchair. 13 hour nights and, sometimes, two naps a day. 

My parents cancelled a long-planned train trip across British Columbia when a doctor informed them that the risks involved were grave.

He's himself. Some days. A joke here and there.

But in noticable ways, he's not the same strong, capable, hearty, independent Dad.

It's a new phase. 

I don't like it very much, and I haven't written too much lately because the heaviness in my heart doesn't want to come out my fingers.



For me, this was the most relaxing summer at the lake since before motherhood. Almost like an actual *whisper* vacation.  The girls can finally play together, by themselves, usually without too much intervention or supervision. Having a rule-following older child seemed suddenly wonderful, after months of annoyance when she checked my speed against the speed limit signs or corrected my approximate time giving: we know she will follow the rules.


 There was so much swimming this year.  And fishing

and hiking and waterskiing 
and wakeboarding.

The girls were constantly peeing, over-hydrated from inhaling half of the lake while swimming open mouthed like some kind of constantly smiling, bottom-feeding fish. And we adults were all dehydrated from the lake, sitting in the sun, on a boat or on a lounge chair with a book in one's lap, always results in a desperate need to drink several gallons at one sitting.


The girls constantly clambered for time at the lake, asking first thing upon waking, can we go swimming now? How about NOW?


There is something so wonderful about a place you come back to once a year, every year of your life. There is perspective there, as you see changes in the people you love compared to the time you saw them here last year, and all the years before. These vacations mark our growth and our losses. Every change stands in stark relief against our wealth of memories.

This is the rock wall my father built with his previously strong arms. This is the kayak he used to hold over his head and carry down the steep stairs to the lake. This is the dock he used to jump off of.

Here are my daughters, previously scared of the water, jumping off that same dock.

We reveled in the gaining of skills from some of our loved ones, while quietly mourning the loss of others.

Perspective can be bittersweet.


Ann Wyse said...

I'm sorry about your dad. Sending you some extra wishes for enjoying all the good parts. And such beautiful photos - such beautiful light!

twisterfish said...

Oh, you have written such a beautiful, and bittersweet post.

I'm sorry about your dad. I'm sorry that he's not how he used to be, but so happy for you all to have spent those weeks together. I think one of the hardest parts of being an adult is when our roles change and we become the caregivers to our parents.

The photos are amazing, and you must ... YOU MUST ... get them made onto canvases to hang in your house and remind you of this wonderful and memorable summer.

Gina said...

I am sorry about your dad. I too have a hard time writing when I am feeling helpless and sad about a topic.

At our house we call "bitter-sweet", "happy-sad". My oldest commented to me recently that he felt "happy-sad" watching his baby sister grow up. I couldn't agree with him more.

momof3 said...

I can totally relate to this post today having just found out that my Dad passed yesterday. Relish your memories. I am so glad that you and your beautiful girls had this wonderful time together. I hope you all will have further times together to cherish. Seeing a parent get sick and lose mobility and strength is such a hard thing to deal with. In our minds we always want to remember the dad who built the wall and carry the kayak.

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