Home is where the heart is

…Even when worlds apart…

Little one and I are on the move again.

Chilliwack, Vancouver, and California over the course of three weeks. Each trip is different and unexpected. As any parent knows, with a babe or toddler a month, week, or even day can make a huge difference in stages of development. So with any travel, I never quite know what to expect. Will little one be shy or excited to see his far-away relatives? Will he remember them? Will he choose this time to go through a clingy stage, crying and snuggling into me for the majority of our travels? Or will he be excited to see new places and new things, to meet new people and–hopefully–play with cousins and friends?

I didn’t need to be worried.

My little one, adventurous in nature already at such a young stage, is just like his mama.

Excited for travel.

Excited for exploration.

Excited for British Columbia sunshine, beaches, giant trees, and blackberry-picking along the river.

He is curious in nature. He is cautious with new people, but soon warms up to them, giggling and playing games of peek-a-boo, sharing toys with cousins, and calling for his Papa every few minutes.

Just as in Newfoundland, he wants to see and do everything, and not to miss out. He is happy to be with his mama, trusting me as he does, and trusting that our adventures are exciting and wonderful.

And happily, trusting when he meets new family from the other side of the country.

An extended family

We live far from little one’s extended maternal family. They are spread across Canada, into Germany, in Australia. It’s easy to miss out on bonds and camaraderie and laughter and family events and excitement, living as we do in Newfoundland and Labrador. Our flights are expensive, our ferries cost, the travel time is long.

And yet, here we are, somehow, once again.

Here we are, surrounded by four generations. Together in one space.

During this trip, little one has made friends with an Australian-Canadian cousin once again. He has played bouncy games with a great-grandmother in her native Yugoslavian language. He has met two great-great aunts, one from his maternal great-grandmother’s side and one from his maternal great-grandfather’s side of the family. He has played numerous games of hammer and nail, spun on computer chairs, and played games of peek-a-boo with his grandpapa.

And all of these family members–four generations–were rewarded with voluntary hugs, snuggles, and kisses from this little person.

And I am amazed and grateful.

Feeling grateful, discovering a shared history

I am grateful for the generous spirit of my little person. His trusting, generous spirit that he so readily shares with all these new people. Trusting me that these new people that I am introducing him to are safe, kind people. He is happy to meet them, and while he stays close to me at first, they have all been graced with kisses and snuggles and laughter and smiles from him. How lucky we all are.

And little one and I, so lucky are we to be able to see all these people. To hear their stories and learn about where little one and I both came from. We’re amazed to be in the town where my mother was born, just a few blocks away from where her very first home was. We are amazed to be in the town to which my grandparents and father migrated from Europe so many decades ago, in the same town where my grandfather built their first Canadian home from scratch. We are amazed to hear stories of the people they met when they first journeyed to Canada, of the construction sites my grandfather worked for free on simply to learn how to build his own house for his own family. We are amazed at all of their adversity. We are grateful for it.

We are delighted to hear stories from a great-aunt of how my maternal grandparents met, and stories of when my brother and I were tiny people ourselves. We are lucky to hear stories of holiday visits and random excursions to extended family. And we are all lucky to reminisce together–my father, my brother, and I–to share our own family history with our new family members, our own small ones.

How lucky we are.

And while I see how small one misses his St. John’s family, I see too when he says goodbye to his Australian aunt, uncle and wee cousin, or when he watches his Grandpapa walk out the door, how he struggles with saying goodbye. Small one has so much love in his heart.

How lucky we are to be able to have family spread across the globe, to be able to be present in all of their lives. And for us to experience them all in some small way.

We will be excited to journey back to our chosen home of Newfoundland and Labrador, excited to continue to explore our new home and little one’s heritage on the island. But until then, we shall enjoy these last moments and stories and laughter and tales together here in British Columbia. With all the people. All of the people.

Editor’s note: If you would like to respond to this or any article on TheIndependent.ca, or if you would like to address an issue we haven’t yet covered, we welcome letters to the editor and consider each of them for publication in our Letters section. You can email yours to: justin at theindependent dot ca. Not all letters will be printed, but all will be read.

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