Some readers may know I’ve just returned from bereavement leave in the “Crossroads of America” due to the death of my mother on November 10th.. Another new blog could be written about this, her life, the funeral (on her 90th birthday), the US Highway 41 trip down and back to bury her in rural Kentucky, the recent re-entry home to someone’s unexpected gall bladder surgery. And while moments lie ahead when he, whom I once poetically named “that specter grief,” will come to catch me unaware, to wash on me the missing and the loss, tonight I am thinking about “visits,” their types and taxonomy.
My mother had many visits in these recent months, and we naturally had some as we made funeral preparations. These visits have made me wonder if they happen more often or naturally in the Midwest and South than in the East , and to wonder what a real visit really is. It seems a “visit” is when people intentionally have a sit-down, slowed-down conversation with one another without any more distraction than maybe a television or radio playing softly in the background. Could it be that simple?
Is going out to eat with a friend a visit? What about going to a museum together, or a ballgame, or even speaking with a friend through the normal silence of the commuter rail? To me these don’t quite feel the same as someone sitting in your living room, or next to you in a hospital bed. Are there differences?
We know we visit over the phone or in-person..or even over Skype. Visits might be lunch time check-ins or an evening shared. There might be a lot or a little conversation, but whatever the case, it is easy. Sometimes visits are planned and other times they are spontaneous. Food might arrive or depart with the visitor or visit-ee; photos might be shared. During our childhood a family of cousins came over for Friday night visits. While the adults talked over coffee, we created made-up games (eg walking in coffee cans around living room “island” closet stand, complete with first aid station.) My farming grandparents had people “up to the house” to visit on the front porch if it was too hot for croquet. In short, I’m back to where I began, thinking of a visit, a gift we give each other.
Now that Thanksgiving is upon us, I hope that if you make a visit you travel safely, be it across town or country. And may your visit be a good one!