Why did the process of leaving a family friend or relative’s house seem to take forever? Little kids hated adult small talk, “My how you’ve grown. What grade were you in school? You’re almost as tall as your older brother.”
Adult chattering never stopped. Pitiful expressions, tugging at mom’s skirt, never made the process go faster. Going to your father for help didn’t work, either. His standard response, “Go ask your mother.” Which really meant, he knew from years of experience, saying goodbye could not be hurried.
Two generations later, blessed with more patience, the process hadn’t changed. Only the players in these mini-dramas were different. Grandma, family matriarch, cooked at home–did most of the cooking away from home.
For that reason, the head chef needed proper utensils, small appliances, to feel at home away from home–anything easily transportable.
Leftovers had to be divvied up. Grandma refereed the process. “Don’t take all of that–take more of this. Your sister likes cranberries, you know.”
“Where were the disposable containers? I can’t find anything in your kitchen. Why do you keep things on top shelves where I can’t reach them? Better take a couple of pieces of this lemon meringue pie. Your grandpa and I will never eat it–it will just go bad.”
Lost items, previously ignored, became priorities; followed by discussions of where said lost items could be; bouts of anxiety, then, retrieval of lost items–purses, sweaters, jackets, electronic devices. When, items weren’t found. “Well, I’ll pick it up next time–or you can mail it to me.” The postal service would never go out of business on our account.
When visitors left our house, the process was mostly the same. Grandkids added interesting twists to the goodbye process. Internet savvy kids left behind connectors, adapters–strange to unhip grandparents, various clothing articles. They sometimes took things home, not noticed, until weeks, even months, later.
“What happened to the Caladryl lotion?” I asked, after getting into some poison ivy. “Oh, one of the grandkids took it home–he had an itchy rash.” That wasn’t going to help me at that moment.
Goodbyes and hugs took forever, because we never could say goodbye.