Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Family love knows no distance January 15, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 6:00 AM
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File photo, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

File photo, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. The son flies Southwest, not Delta.

TUESDAY, 6:39 a.m. and I’ve just arrived home from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport after a slow drive there on treacherous, snow-packed roads with my husband and son. The 19-year-old is on his way to Boston, back to college.

Wednesday, 6:00 a.m. and he is in Medford, Massachusetts, now, settled into his dorm, about to start his second semester at Tuft’s University.

And I am a sad mama. I go through this every time my son or my daughter, who lives 300 miles away in northeastern Wisconsin, leaves. I cannot help it. I love having my “kids,” who are not at all “kids” anymore, home. Given the distance two of them live from Minnesota, I don’t see them as often as I would like.

The son, left, the eldest, the son-in-law and the second eldest daughter.

The son, left, the eldest and her husband, and the second eldest daughter after I snapped “posed” photos when we were last together. I actually prefer this image to the perfectly posed shots given the love and affection it reveals.

We—the husband, the eldest daughter and her husband (who live in the metro), the middle daughter and the son—were all together the Friday evening before Christmas to celebrate the holidays. For that I am grateful. I treasure these times we have as a family. Many families are spread far and wide across this country and world and see each other less often than we do each other.

But when my son left this time, it was different. He’s accepted a summer internship in Boston. I don’t know when he will return to Minnesota. Over spring break? Maybe. Maybe not. Depends on his plans and the cost of a flight.

That is the reality of mothering—this separation.

Yet, distance and separation do not limit love. And for that I am grateful.

HOW DO YOU COPE with long distance separation from family? And how do you stay connected?

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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26 Responses to “Family love knows no distance”

  1. Marilyn Says:

    We now have free internet phone calls. The hardest part is working out the correct time window for each of our 3 now living in the USA (1 on east coast, 1 on west coast, and 1 long distance truck driver). The other hard part is the esp I send – willing them to pick up the phone! I hate it when they use call screening.

    • My girls are generally very good at responding to phone calls or texts. The son not so much. But he has always been that way. Someday, when he becomes a parent, he will understand the importance of responding to Mom’s attempts to communicate, right? I don’t consider myself a helicopter mom. So when I communicate, it’s usually for a good reason or sometimes to connect simply because we have not connected in awhile.

      I often wonder how mothers managed years ago, especially those with children on active military duty fighting in wars. There were no phone calls, no internet, no nothing except letters, which would arrive weeks, even months, after written.

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    You know that this mama knows exactly how you feel about this. I rarely say that I know exactly how someone feels but in this case—I do. A bit of my heart always stays with the boys when we leave them. It is always so wonderful to spend time with them but then the day after I leave them I always have a bit of the “sads” because I am unsure when I will be able to be with them again. Christmas was wonderful because we had a whole week with both of them—relaxed, no driving around like maniacs in snow hopping from place to place.
    So how do I “cope” with the distance because my boys will NEVER live close to me??? Texting, emails, phone calls, FaceTime on the phone—it all works. And memories in my heart that make me smile. That is the key—–make those memories last. 🙂

    • I knew you would “get it,” Beth Ann. I especially appreciate your last bit of advice to “make those memories last.”

      Building memories and keeping memories are truly a part of this great circle of love we call family.

  3. treadlemusic Says:

    Cell phones (no Skype). Gone are the days when families could be found in close proximity to one another geographically. So many factors play into this….choices of necessity or desire. Some costs of staying connected are high (plane tickets) others, not so much (cell phones). It is “today” and I go about my “dailies” trusting in the One Who is over all (with a mother’s heart that is both happy for the independence and sad that the distance must be so great). Hugs to you, dear Friend………………

  4. DeLores Johnson Says:

    Good Morning Audrey,

    Our children (4) all live close to us so I haven’t had the “long distance problem”, only when our oldest one went to Brown Institute in Mpls, I was sad the whole
    first week he was gone and he was only 125 miles from home, but there was this
    “empty” feeling in the house and a feeling that the “empty nest” was now beginning. I can’t imagine if they were far, far away. Maybe it is because we
    realize the “apron strings” are being cut?

    Have a nice day.

    DeLores

    • Oh, yes, the first time my eldest went on a mission trip to Texas with the church youth group, I thought I’d never make it through the week. But I started the letting go process gradually. That helped me prepare for the second daughter’s eventual semester abroad in Argentina, to which she then returned twice thereafter.

      I’m happy for you that all four of your children live close. A friend recently bemoaned the fact that her three kids and their families live so far away. Turns out they are within an hour of Faribault, all in the metro. I simply had to tell her how lucky she was to have them so close. “But I want them all in Faribault,” she responded. Uh huh.

  5. Beautiful Post:) My family is scattered between 4 States – at least both sets of parents are retired, so they have more time to travel to us if needed. We try to get together in person when possible and use FB, e-mail, phone, etc. to stay connected. So far it is working. It was our year to host both sets of parents in 2013, so we had the Family B&B up and running from 11/27 to 12/16 – do this every couple of years. I need to see BroCraves (have not seen since 2009) and my nephews (not since 2006) in person in 2015-2016 – need to make it happen. Happy Hump Day!

  6. When we were younger, we were the ones who went to see the parental units. Now that we’re the parental (and grandparental) units, we’re still the ones doing most of the traveling to visit with the “kids.” Thank goodness for cell-phones, email and facebook. We have one son here in OK, fairly close by. He was the cause of my empty nest syndrome when he left to go the US Naval Academy and subsequent long-distance assignments. Mail was the only means of keeping up then. Our daughter went off to college in another state and then to law school, with little time off to visit. Phone calls sustained me through those days. Now she lives about 1,000 miles away, has a husband and 3 children and a busy law practice. Phones calls and emails prevail there. Lots of prayers and memories of when we were all sailing together on the blue briny together. They are strong, independent, and God-fearing individuals who love their families. For this I am thankful every day! :>)

  7. jhc1218 Says:

    Although I can’t relate since out girls are still little, this post reminds us to be always grateful for the time we spend with family and cherish this time as it is so fleeting. Also, I absolutely love this photo and the affection Caleb has for Amber.
    -Jocelyn

    • You know all too well that of which you write.

      Yes, Caleb loves his sisters and it really does show in this pic. Had Miranda been sitting next to him, he would have been draping his arm around her, too. The sisters like to tease him about being “the little brother.” Yup, maybe in age, but certainly not in height.

  8. Jackie Says:

    Thinking of you this week, I know your mamma’s heart is weary, I’ll say a prayer for peace…It’s just so hard when those kids jump the nest! My oldest boy is only 80 miles away but I miss him dearly….we never get to see him enough. Here’s hoping Caleb will get to come home for spring break, that would be wonderful wouldn’t it 🙂 By the way I love the B&W photo of the “kids”, they are just the happiest little bunch

  9. I remember going into the service in 1974 and my sister crying as I departed on a Greyhound Bus in Syracuse, NY.

    • That would have put you around the end of the Vietnam War. Thank you for serving our country.

      If I had been your sister, I would have cried, too. Remembering that she cried means this moment affected you deeply. It shows me the depth of your love for one another.

  10. There is both sadness and excitement in airport photos, isn’t there? Depending on where you’re going/what’s in store.


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