People come and go in our lives. Sometimes we lose touch completely and sometimes we simply pick up where we left off, whether it is after months or years. There’s no sense, with our long-standing friends, of us getting any older. In fact, occasionally we even revert to our younger selves in their company (usually with dire consequences)! Time spent connecting with good friends is food for our souls.
I also love spending time with my children but saying goodbye is becoming more and more difficult. Alex has just gone back to Stellies after spending a week at home with us and I found myself more upset than usual when he left. Every time we see him there are subtle changes so it’s not a just case of picking up where we left off, it actually requires some adjusting on our part and there’s that unsettling feeling that life is slipping too fast through our fingers. Of course, there are some things that just don’t change. He knows exactly what he can expect from us; his laundry will get done, he will be waited on hand and foot, he will be fed on demand and usually his favourite meals will be on the menu. However, the Alex that came home this time was definitely more mature than the one that stayed with us at the end of the year. This year he is doing honours in accounting and for the first time in his academic career he failed a test in the first semester. So the first thing he did when he arrived home was to commandeer my desk (all my stuff landed up on the floor – something else that doesn’t change) and, much to our amazement, he actually spent most of his time studying.
In between studying he watched sport on telly with Peter and they proceeded to make what resembled a nest in the little upstairs tv lounge, with blankets, cushions and plenty of snacks on hand. Peter thoroughly enjoyed having his sporting companion back and the house shook with all the raucous shouting and swearing emanating from the rafters. Fortunately their team, the Sharks, won their (rugby) game on the night before he left so the mood was jubilant.
Alex really enjoyed his short stay at the farm and finally acknowledged that he thought we had made the right decision in moving here. So it seems that he has at last forgiven us for selling the family home in Durban. On his first night home we took him to our local for dinner and two things happened that I could see were “aha” moments for him. One was that in the rather crowded bar area we glimpsed a woman who looked like the mother of a Durban friend of his who was also arriving home from Stellies that day with his sister. Alex was adamant that it could not possibly be his friend’s mother because she would most certainly be at home for her children’s holiday. When it turned out that it was her (she and her husband had left the son and daughter at home and were spending the long Easter weekend in the Midlands on their own) I could see it suddenly dawning on Alex that parents too have lives of their own to live. The other “aha” moment happened because our local is a very sociable place and as we were leaving Alex commented on how many people we seem to know now. I think he realised, for the first time, how much we enjoy the sense of belonging that has developed here. From that moment on we never heard another negative comment about how our moving to the country had ruined his life!
So you can imagine how hard it was to say goodbye to him. My boy is growing into a man, and a thoughtful one at that. Who could have seen that coming?