Presents and Presence

30 Nov

My mom and her fabulous partner, Dee, are here visiting us this week. They arrived like Santa Claus last Friday, overdressed for the heat, two big suitcases nearly full of stuff and things for us. Much of it was stuff to improve our lives that we can’t get here. They brought more of those foldable cloth boxes for storing stuff (along with colorful duct tape to cover them in so the crickets don’t eat holes in them!). Dee brought us all kinds of new solar toys- including a solar-powered battery recharger, and some beautiful “garden decorations” that light up in different colors at night, which we’ll use to decorate Lucia’s room. My mom brought some other cool and yet inexpensive stuff to decorate Lucia’s room, all part of my wicked plan to lure her into sleeping in her own room before this new baby is born. 

happy visiting!

happy visiting!

“Nonna bring me book?” Lucia asked before she went to the airport to pick them up. “Probably so,” I told her, laughing at how well my two year old knows her Nonna’s habits and joys already. And indeed, despite having just sent Lucia a new book in the mail, her Nonna still had another one in her suitcase, among the other toys and surprises for my little one. (And I love how my sweet kiddo gets excited about anything we call a present.)

They brought things from other people, like hand-me-down maternity clothes from my best friend, and used baby clothes and some Lucia-size clothes from a friend of my mom’s. My dad and stepmom sent me some maternity clothes, and tons of stuff for Lucia- clothes, Elmo underwear, shoes, and a monkey that uses velcro to strap onto her neck, which Lucia hasn’t let go of since.

Lucia and her monkey from Paw-Paw and Gamma

Lucia and her monkey from Paw-Paw and Gamma

They brought things we don’t actually need which are just for fun and pleasure- TV series on DVD for Conan, a giant box of nutritional yeast for me and Lucia (Lucia insists that pasta must have both parmesan cheese and nutritional yeast), natural peanut butter (yes, most of the things I wanted were food-related), a small Woodford Reserve for Conan (I doubt the bourbon will last until after I give birth), puppets for Lucia, and all kinds of other small delights.

It was definitely like Christmas already last Saturday, like Christmas always was at my house as a kid- you’d get new sheets and other things you needed, and it was just as exciting as the fun new toy or the skateboard you’d dreamed of.

And then to top it all off, when we’d already had more than enough presents, they swooped in and rescued us from a severe financial stress. Our car was getting flats like every other day, running off some sad wheels from ten years ago. We kept getting them patched or replacing them with another cheap used tire that would bust on us soon. Conan and Dee and my mom conspired and researched and surprised me on Thursday with four brand-new quality tires, totally relieving a giant stressor from our life- yet another huge gift on top of the plethora of gifts they’d brought!

All of this help- the presents, the meals out, the new tires- was nothing compared to the joy of having them here. Conan’s mom visiting from Juquila is about the only visitor we’ve had since our wedding in February, so a visit from the north was feeling very overdue. I was nervous about how it would work with my crappy work schedule. We pulled off as much visiting as we could in the hours of my lunch break and the couple hours between when I get off and when I fall over in bed from exhaustion at night. They’ve come over to our house some for homecooking, and they’ve bought us lots of meals out. They’ve hung out with Lucia and let Conan get some work done while I’m at work. They kept Lucia over night. Last weekend and now this one, too, they’ve shared their hotel room with us, so it’s been like having a special beach vacation away from home. A vacation with internet, electricity, a refrigerator, a pool, and most of all, really good company.

Dee and Conan have had lots of good talks and male bonding adventures since Dee arrived. Dee is also great with Lucia and a general pleasure to be around. And of course, my mom is my mama, who I’ve always been super close to and have missed horribly since I moved. The past few months, as some things have gotten more difficult in my life, she’s been awesome at keeping in touch with me by phone and by email almost daily, which helps tremendously. But there is nothing like having your mama in the same town as you, talking and chatting live and in person, eating a meal together, hugging.

Today is the last full day they will be here, and I’m kind of in denial about it. I don’t want to think about the goodbye, now or later. I don’t want to think of another Christmas I won’t see most of my family. I don’t want to think about giving birth and my mama not being there the same day. It won’t be too many months before their next visit, but it still stinks to have all my family so far away. It’s fabulous to have Conan’s wonderful family close, but it doesn’t replace mine by a long shot. Presence is more powerful and more rewarding than all of the presents combined- even our new tires, which we would’ve gotten eventually without them.

The best gift is their presence, and the memories I’ll hold onto in these coming months while we wait for the next visit- from them, from my dad and stepmom, and who knows who else. Second to that, though, is another material thing that my mama brought me. I don’t know how much money it cost, and it doesn’t have any concrete purpose like the duct tape or the DVDs. But symbolism has a powerful effect on our lives and can carry us through moments of loneliness, heartache, and worse. This is what she brought me:

circle of women

It is a circle of women- my womenfolk, my strength, my source, much of my joy in life. It is a representation of all who can’t be physically here with me in this moment- because of geography, or death- but who are always with me. It is a reminder of their presence in my life, which, short of their physical presence, is the best present I could dream of. 

2 Responses to “Presents and Presence”

  1. Vivian Helton December 4, 2014 at 9:36 am #

    Julia, I love reading your letters about your life in Mexico, you missed your calling you should be an author. I can’t believe how grown up Lucia is getting, would love to hold her
    and let her get to know me. It is hard when you are so far away, and being with child is
    even harder. The second child seems to be the hardest but it is worth it all when they
    come into this world. I hope you and all have a wonderful Christmas and the New Year
    brings lot’s of Love and Peace. Love and miss you guys…….Aunt Viv

    • exiletomexico December 5, 2014 at 8:13 am #

      Hope you have a great Christmas, too! Hugs and love!

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