November 27, 2009

in random

I have been thinking about my parents a lot lately, especially yesterday. Thanksgiving does that to you, I guess.

In all honesty, I try not to think about them because when I do, the sense of guilt soon becomes too overwhelming: I have been lost to them since 1993 when I came to the U.S. for graduate school. The originally temporary stint abroad that was supposed to last only two years became the reality of me and them separated by the Pacific Ocean. And, oh, yeah, the land mass from here to the West Coast. Tenuously connected through phone calls, calculated according to a 14-hour time zone difference.

I sometimes wonder whether my father had regretted telling me, “Don’t come home for the summer. Travel around the U.S. You will be home less than a year anyway.” THAT was the summer I met my husband…

Sometimes I get upset at myself on behalf of my parents. Then I turn towards my own children and warn them, abruptly,

“When you grow up, if you move to a different continent, I am going to be really, really, really mad at you!” My teeth gnashing.

I’d walk away and hide myself in the bathroom, work myself into tears, remember this is probably how my parents feel, then become even more upset and turn into a hysterical mess.


I did not realize my father is left-handed until this March when we visited my parents. They noticed that Mr. Monk was writing with his left hand.

“He’s left-handed? I guess it is ok nowadays to write with your left hand. Your father is left-handed too.” My mother said over the phone when I was back in the U.S.

“No. He is NOT!” I defended myself, against an accusation of inattentiveness that was not there.

“Oh yes he is. He is supposed to be left-handed. He writes with his right hand, indeed. But, you have never noticed? he uses scissors and knives with his left hand.”

Of course I have never noticed it. I left home when I was twenty-four. I was too young, too educated, too busy to live my life to notice my parents. As I get older and know better, however, I am not there to catch up.

Ever since that exchange, I often try to remember my father opening a letter with a pair of scissors (He does not believe in letter openers) or dissecting a pork shoulder roast (his favorite) with a cleaver. I imagine him using his left hand.

I don’t know how to explain to my husband or my boss that I really need to fly home because I need to see my father use his left hand…

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Flying 8,108* miles home
January 5, 2010 at 3:11 am

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Elly Lou November 27, 2009 at 12:51 pm

Hugs. I bet your Pops is all aglow just knowing that you feel that level o’ love. Besides, that’s what Skype is for, right? (As I frantically flip through my calendar to figure out when I’m going to go see my ‘rents.)
Elly Lou´s last blog…Olives My ComLuv Profile


Absence Alternatives November 29, 2009 at 1:12 am

Thanks! {{{hugs back}}}


Jane November 27, 2009 at 3:58 pm

Such a touching post. I’ve felt the very same way when someone tells me something about my grandparents. I want to go visit them or call them to confirm the details. But now, it’s too late for that. :(
Jane´s last blog…The ‘I Can’t Believe I Said That’ Post My ComLuv Profile


Absence Alternatives November 29, 2009 at 1:14 am

I know I am going to regret it some day. And that just gets me even more depressed. Thank you for the moral support. You guys are all so sweet and supportive!


Nancy@ifevolutionworks.com November 27, 2009 at 8:24 pm

Then you do need to go home. You should! I’ m a believer in trying to live with “no regrets”. Not always easy to do….but worth the effort!
Nancy@ifevolutionworks.com´s last blog…Food Neuroses My ComLuv Profile


Absence Alternatives November 29, 2009 at 1:16 am

Thank you! I have been trying very hard to squeeze some time in. With the time zone difference and the long flight time, I am exhausted just thinking about it… I know. All these are just “excuses” right? sigh.


Jen @ NathanRising November 27, 2009 at 10:01 pm

What a precious story. I’m sad that you’ve moved so far away from your parents… But at the same time, if you hadn’t stayed, you wouldn’ t have your husband and precious children! Who make things that they know they’ll never eat!

My dad is left-handed, too… the only one in the family
Jen @ NathanRising´s last blog…His Awesome Cuteness My ComLuv Profile


Absence Alternatives November 29, 2009 at 1:18 am

Thanks for the silver lining perspective. ;-) On a bad day, I wish my dad had said what everybody else’s dad had said, “I will disown you if you bring an American boy friend home!” So yeah, being “liberal” cost him a daughter. Poor guy…


Sharon November 27, 2009 at 10:45 pm

This is lovely. Such a light touch. Now I’m off to read your other posts…
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Absence Alternatives November 29, 2009 at 1:19 am

Hi, thank you for stopping by!


Christine November 28, 2009 at 7:55 am

Nice reflective post. Go visit the family as much as you can. My sisters regret they didn’t visit our mother more often when she lived with me for her last two years. When you’re younger you just think they’re going to be here forever–then they leave us and you wish you hadn’t been so stupid.


Absence Alternatives November 29, 2009 at 1:21 am

Nicely said. I am planning on going home as often as I could. Thanks for stopping by too!


TheKitchenWitch November 28, 2009 at 9:16 am

Are you going to visit? I’m wondering though, if you distanced yourself for a reason? If you do visit, will it be stressful or painful?

My mother has threatened me within an inch of my life that if I move even an HOUR away from her, she’ll be after me with the handcuffs…
TheKitchenWitch´s last blog…And now it’s all about retail…update! My ComLuv Profile


Absence Alternatives November 29, 2009 at 1:23 am

Our trip home is very stressful for me just because the kids are young, the jet lag, the long hours. It is such a huge production when we visit: you almost feel you need to be there for two weeks otherwise you can’t really justify the $1000 airfare and the 24-hour travel time. The jet lag is also a bitch… I would like to go home by myself. 4 days at a time, but more often. I will definitely do that when the kids are older. But I don’t want to wait that long…


Falling November 28, 2009 at 3:29 pm

Aw, sweets. I have so many of these same thoughts. I moved from Chicago to the West Coast just for grad school. For a year. And I came with my husband. Who promptly fell in love with this city…and now we live here. And I just live with the guilt. Guilt that I wasn’t there for every day of Mom’s chemo, that I wasn’t there when she died, that Tankbaby doesn’t get to see his grandfather every Sunday…argh.

When I talked to my dad (who lives only one state away from his family) about this, he said, “Yeah, no one should be allowed to marry outside the family. Of course, all of our kids would turn out weird…”
Falling´s last blog…Leftovers My ComLuv Profile


Absence Alternatives November 29, 2009 at 1:25 am

I love your family for all the “inappropriate” sense of humor. I think it explains why the minute I bumped into your blog, I want to read every single post of yours. :-)


Velva November 28, 2009 at 8:39 pm

No need to mention that you need to see your dad use his left-hand….just plan a visit.
No need to feel guilty. Your parents are proud of you.
Velva´s last blog…Pomegranate Rosemary Royale My ComLuv Profile


Absence Alternatives November 29, 2009 at 1:25 am

Thanks. :-)


Merrilymarylee November 28, 2009 at 9:20 pm

Do they ever come here? No Skype or e-mail? That makes such a difference. The phone calls must have some built-in stress. (Like wanting to talk but you have a doctor’s appt. in 10 min., etc. or someone is sick.)

I’m sure you and your husband and children have a stronger family unit by being far away from families, so there is a upside as well as a downside. It’s gotta be tough on you and on them. Our kids are too far away for my personal preference, but they have built happy lives where they are and we’re proud of them. I’ll bet your parents feel the same.

Sweet, touching post. :)
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Absence Alternatives November 29, 2009 at 1:26 am

Thank you so much! You guys are really the best bunch!!!


A Vapid Blonde November 29, 2009 at 3:48 pm

I only live about and hour and a half from my parents and I only see them about four times a year…Talk a lot on the phone but it is not the same.
A Vapid Blonde´s last blog…Observing Superstitions: Salt…The Zombie Ghost Cure My ComLuv Profile


Absence Alternatives November 30, 2009 at 10:54 pm

You are right. Not the same. In truth, after one or two days we get tired of each other. It would have been ideal if we could visit one day every week or even every month…


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