WE RETRIEVED HER between bouts of morning and late afternoon snowfall from the parking lot of the Culver’s restaurant in Lakeville, wrapping winter coat arms around her thin frame.
She, her arms and torso snugged in a borrowed red parka, shivered in the Minnesota winter. Already she missed her beloved Argentina where the summer sun’s rays brushed bronze upon her skin.
As she and her dad lifted her travel-worn suitcase and lavender backpack from the trunk of her sister’s car, shifting them into the trunk of ours, I savored the sweet moment of her homecoming. Nearly four weeks earlier I’d embraced my second-born, tears trailing down my cheeks as she turned away. The scene of her wheeling that suitcase, slipping through the airport doors, remains imprinted upon my memory.
But on this Sunday afternoon, joy defined the minutes, the hour, in which all three of my adult children (it always seems odd to write that contradiction of words, “adult children”) and the boyfriend of the eldest, slid into a corner booth at Culver’s. The restaurant marked a deliberate dining choice by the oldest daughter whose sister once raved about the fast food eatery. Ironically, it’s headquartered in Wisconsin, where the returning traveler now lives.
I truly cared not where we ate. Rather, I cared that my family surrounded me. With two of my three now living 300 miles away in opposite directions, such togetherness happens only a few times a year. I am not complaining as many more miles, even oceans, separate families.
But tucked deep into the recesses of my mother’s worries exists the possibility that my second daughter, some day, will return to Argentina. Permanently. Twice she’s lived there, once visited. She’s been mistaken already numerous times as a local, Spanish flowing fluent from her tongue.
While she can claim a knowledge of Spanish as her own, I have passed along this genetic love of language, this appreciation for words and sentence structure and communication.
This desire to adventure, though, wells from within her, sourced perhaps from me. I intentionally encouraged her, like her sister before, her brother after, to travel, to see that which I’ve never seen, never will, for I possess not a distant traveler’s heart.
This has been my selfless mother’s gift—this unfurling of the fingers, this revealing of the palm, this opening to flight, this letting go.
BONUS PHOTOS from Argentina:
© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling
Photos courtesy of Miranda Helbling