Twenty years ago, Michael (my dad, not my husband.. but now that I write that, I guess there is some Freudian thing going on) came into my life when he started dating my mom. I began calling him dad soon after and haven't stopped. They married when I was eleven. In the ceremony he also exchanged rings with my sister and me, us taking him as our dad. My brother did the same with a ring from my mom, ceremonially making us siblings. This day solidified our family. When I was thirteen, I changed my last name to his. My dad has always been the rock to our family. I have always been thankful for everything he has done for me (even though it took me years to show it). However, what happened last night is much more than I will ever be able to thank him for.
When Vedder was born, my dad said he wanted to be called "Grandad." We laughed and try to tell him not to give his hopes up. Vedder began to call him "DingDong." We laughed harder. Then not long ago Vedder started saying Grandad and hasn't stopped since. He talks about Grandad and the "Grandad Train" (Amtrak) every day. Last night, all he wanted to do was play trains with Grandad.
This breaks my heart. I live with my husband and son in NYC. When I moved here five years ago, I had no real plans for staying this long. However life happens. Now I am here (with still a hope in my heart that we will one day be back living in Massachusetts). I talk to my family often. I text with my sister almost daily, my brother frequently, and facetime with my parents every weekend. I dream of raising my child in the suburbs with a yard he can run in and I can watch him from the kitchen window.
But for now, a trip up to MA every few months and the everyday advances in technology, help Vedder to have a relationship with Nani, Grandad, Auntie, and Unc.
So back to my story about last night.
While facetiming with Auntie, Vedder kept asking if she talked to Grandad. "Where's Grandad? Do you talk to Grandad? I want to play trains with Grandad." So we hung up with my sister and called my mom. Mom instantly answers the phone. "Hi, Vedder!!" "Ummm, Nani, I want to see Grandad." ((My poor mom and sister. Right now in V's life NO ONE measures up to Grandad.))
As soon as they see each other over the iPad, they laugh hysterically. This happens every time we facetime, and lasts for the first few minutes of the call. Just looking at each other laughing. Warms the heart.
Then after talking a bit, Vedder said "I want to play trains with Grandad." We moved the iPad onto the floor of his room. He showed my dad his train tracks all set up. While Vedder pushed around the trains, my dad said "Chugga Chugga Choo Choo!"
This lasted a few more minutes, but Vedder kept looking at me and saying "I want to play trains with Grandad." Obviously it was getting to the point where having Grandad watch from the iPad wasn't good enough. He wanted him there in person. This confused and longing look on Vedder's face broke my heart. And while my mind began to wallow in self pity for living so far away, something amazing happened.
I looked over at the iPad and noticed my dad. He had his head laying down on the kitchen table, imitating Vedder (he lays down on the floor to play trains). My dad had a small black Brio train in his hand, gliding it back and forth on the table. Vedder saw this and smiled. I saw this and cried. They were really playing trains together. Two hundred and fifty miles apart. My heart was so full it could have burst!
They played like this for a while. And as I became the official "FaceTime iPad Holder" I knew I was no longer needed (well, except to be the FaceTime iPad Holder). They played trains, made choo-choo noises, and watched each other. It was beyond the most perfect moment.
Like April 19th solidified our family years ago, February 5th is the day that solidified Vedder and Grandad's bond. They are best friends, and this moment is something they will have for the rest of their lives.
((SIDENOTE: I would also like to thank my parents. Not every family has the amount of love that ours does and I am so grateful for everything you have taught and shown me. It is because of your love and parenting - and our arguments, my rebellion, and your forgiveness - that has truly molded me into the mom I am today. I would be so lost without your constant love and guidance. Thank you for never giving up and always showing me that family is the strongest bond there is. Blood does not make a family, the people in it do. I am so proud to be your daughter.))