Fjölskylda (Family)


Meðalfell – The rock I landed on

Iceland just went on vacation, like all of it, all at once. It’s a new experience for me. I had just about gotten used to a daily routine, and then, all of a sudden, it all changed again. It’s a good thing though, change. A change is as good as a rest, they say. Since I am not getting a rest right away, the changes will have to do in the interim.

The workplace is pretty much closed down for a few weeks. There’s a skeleton crew around, a few stragglers, like myself. The normal routine is not there right now, but there’s still work to be done. We’re on our own for lunch once more, having had it organized each day for us. Which was great. I was able to rely on that as my main meal for the day, leaving the obligatory sandwich for my evening ‘quick fix’. I took a sandwich in for lunch today, but I may head out and get something tomorrow. Especially since I have no water at the house right now, and fixing things there is getting to be less possible as the plates and cutlery get used and cannot be washed for re-use. There’s also not the daily cleaning of the office going on. Yet there is still some activity, albeit much reduced.

Today I took it upon myself to tidy up a bit. I cleared some trash out and tidied it up into a bag. I wiped down surfaces and tables of crumbs and coffee cup rings. I emptied the dishwasher, and put in the few things that had accumulated in the meantime. It’s something that I have been so used to doing for the past two decades, it’s hard for me to not automatically just do it. Today I let it go, I just did it, because it felt good to do it. I didn’t have to, I know, but just this once I went ahead. It’s a long time to be caring for people, twenty years or so. It’s been my life, or, at least, the focus of it. Now I am responsible for myself. I tidy up after me, I clean up after me, I do my laundry, I wash my dishes, I shop for myself, I cook for myself, and I make sure I am doing the things I need to be doing. It’s an altogether different way of life, and not one I am used to. I know I used to do this, but it’s been so long. I was quickly plucked from the one situation and dropped right into this one. Which may have been for the best. It’s the sort of abrupt transition that has happened to me before. If it is necessary, then it is just necessary, and I accept it as that. If change needs to happen, then happen it must.

I miss my family. I miss my children especially. I miss my youngest child more than most. Probably because she is the last to leave the nest and is still there, if only for a short while longer. She is probably your typical teenager in some respects. She doesn’t do mornings, as such. You are not likely to engage her in any meaningful conversation much before noon most days. Yet I made a point of getting up on every day that I could to be there, just be there. Maybe sat in the kitchen on the small sofa, maybe sat in the lounge, but just to be there, to be seen. As she passed by I would try and greet her, whether I got a response or not. Maybe it was just a grunt, an acknowledgment that I had been heard or seen. I just knew it was important for me to be a constant. I believed it was important for me to be a constant for all of them. Things would change throughout the years, but I was always there, no matter what was going on. There’s something very comforting about knowing that someone will always be there no matter what. That is what I wanted to give them all the most.

So it was very difficult to give that up. To let it go, all of a sudden. To be “The Rock” of the family for so many years, and then, in an instant, to be somewhere else. Not there every morning when someone left for school. Not there every afternoon or evening when they returned home once more. Not there throughout the night even when there was sleep to be had. It’s not something I did easily. It’s something I did because it had to be done, clearly. Clearly, because that is exactly what has happened.

I went from being “The Rock” to landing on a rock, in the middle of the north Atlantic Ocean. I still have a strong sense of being a constant, I just changed my location, that’s all. I am still me. I am still here for them all. My love has not diminished in the slightest. If anything it has grown, as I miss them all terribly. Now I am taking care of myself, because that is what needs to be done right now. It’s not something that is someone else’s duty, it is mine, and mine alone, and I am doing it. The more time that passes the better I get at doing it. Given enough time it will become as much second nature to me as taking care of a family was.

I am proud of all of them. Our son I raised from the age of four, which he had just turned when I made my first appearance in his life. He has turned out to be a fine young man. An upstanding member of society, who shows that he is accomplished and fulfilled. He will turn twenty six this month. Our middle child is shining in her field of education, and shows great promise for the future. I have full confidence that she will excel in all that she does. She will turn twenty shortly after the new year. Our youngest is equally worthy of our pride. She excels in all that she does too. She will turn eighteen at the end of this year. It is toughest for me in regards to her, because I left the nest before she did. Not because I planned to, but because it was meant to be. However, that does not make it any easier for me. Quite the reverse. But then things certainly have not always gone according to plan. That is the very nature of life.

This morning I took a walk along the lake once more. Something I have neglected for several days, due to work being a little more demanding than usual. I would spend the five minutes at the bench on as many days as I could remember to, but I had little time for the walk to and from. Today I felt strongly the value of the walk to and from. There’s the time it takes, which involves patience. There’s the physical exertion, which asks something of my body that it benefits from giving. There’s the experiences to be had during that time, of which there have been many over the past few weeks since my arrival. Today there was not a soul to be seen. No people around. No cars driving by. Not a sign of anybody anywhere doing anything. I felt like the last man on earth. Even the birds were quiet. There was a silence that engulfed everything. It surrounded the whole experience in a way that is difficult to describe, but highlighted each and every passing moment in a wholly obvious and unsubtle manner.

Though there is the definition of family that you can look up in a dictionary, my personal sense of family does not necessarily adhere to that definition too closely. For example, I have a friend I have known for some twenty three years, who is as much my brother as anyone could be. Yet there is not a trace of family resemblance between us, at least not in any physical sense. I have another friend who I have known even longer, from my very first job, who I consider a brother too. We can go years between seeing each other, even having little communication, but he still feels like a brother to me when we finally meet once more. I have a friend who I may never see again in my lifetime, but I still consider him my brother. I am also fortunate enough to have been allowed to join another workplace that has the feel of family, much like the place I used to work at some twenty plus years ago. What better way to return to something I enjoy doing with my whole heart, than with a group of people who feel like family? I cannot think of one. Today I worked, I worked hard, and I found myself having fun, working. I am, and always will be, with family.

Bless Bless og Sjáumst!

3 responses to “Fjölskylda (Family)

  1. I am sad and glad for you after reading this blog entry. Sad for you that you are so far away from your family, been there and know how it feels. So very glad for you that you realize how very wealthy you are to such a great family that you speak of so fondly of on an open forum. I think your kids will be uplifted to know that you actually do miss them like crazy. Sometimes they just need to hear it and after reading this they will most likely feel the passion in your words as I have.

    Thanks again for welcoming us into your world, be well.

  2. Lovely post. Well written.

    I think it’s not too contrived to extend your metaphor of the family to the Icelanders. Family units are very strong here and I think the whole nation regards itself as just one large family.

    I come from a microscopically small core family: just six people, but here I am part of a family of around forty. I often have thirty guests in my house. I expected to find it cloying and intrusive but in fact it’s quite the opposite: supportive, loving, helpful and fun.

    Please keep writing!

  3. Angel: Thank you for the encouraging words. I hope to continue sharing what I am able to.

    Biskupinn: Thanks! Wow, that’s a lot of people to have over. I will keep on writing as I am moved to. I want to keep the posts interesting and not just done to keep them plentiful.

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