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Left Coast/Right Coast: Our son came “home” this week

This is the time of year when you should be with family. At one point we were scattered around the country. My wife and I in Boca Raton, Florida; our youngest son in Boston; our oldest son in Los Angeles; and our daughter in Seattle.
Mike Gold is a retired entrepreneur providing his views on various subjects. Photo credit: Richard Ying.

By Mike Gold, a retired entrepreneur "living the dream in the Pacific Northwest."

This is the time of year when you should be with family. Our oldest son came for a visit this past week. Flew in from Los Angeles. Our daughter and our granddaughters live in Ballard. So we get to see our grandchildren often. In fact it is the reason we relocated from the east coast to Seattle. Our son got to spend some “quality” time with his nieces. It was so nice to see him interact with the next generation. Every time I see our oldest son I think of the lyrics to Cats in the Cradle written by Harry Chapin.

“My child arrived just the other day
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch and bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away
And he was talkin' 'fore I knew it, and as he grew
He'd say ‘I'm gonna be like you dad
You know I'm gonna be like you.’”

“I've long since retired, my son's moved away
I called him up just the other day
I said, ‘I'd like to see you if you don't mind.’
He said, ‘I'd love to, Dad, if I can find the time
You see my new job's a hassle and kids have the flu
But it's sure nice talking to you, Dad
It's been sure nice talking to you.’

And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me
He'd grown up just like me
My boy was just like me.”

Such a sad lament. But so accurate in our case. I used to travel internationally a great deal especially to Europe. I would travel TWA often and always bring some little trinket from the airline home to our children. Often it was a deck of TWA playing cards.

One day my wife was at our son’s grammar school for a parent-teacher meeting. His teacher told my wife that our son was playing with these cards and said to him, “My dad works for twa (pronouncing it as a word).” When I heard this I choked up and realized that Harry Chapin’s words were prophetic.

But our son came for a visit this past week.

That’s certainly a lot better than my freshman college roommate. He was an Air Force “regular.” That meant his tuition and expenses were paid for by the Air Force in exchange for which he owed them four years of service upon graduation. This was the Vietnam era. While I was building surface to air missiles for Raytheon my roommate went to Vietnam as a bombardier on a B52. His plane was shot down and the remains weren’t recovered until 35 years later.

But our son came for a visit this past week.

I got to thinking about Family. At one point we were scattered around the country. My wife and I in Boca Raton, Florida; our youngest son in Boston; our oldest son in Los Angeles; and our daughter in Seattle. The four corners of the United States. Only if one of us lived in Alaska or Hawaii could we have lived farther apart.

So when granddaughter #1 arrived, we moved from Boca to Seattle. It’s been great being so close to the next generation. Sort of a “do-over” for us. (That’s one of the great things about being a grandparent). Plus we finally got to experience the “left coast” of the United States, about which this column is written.

I also got to thinking about our physical mobility in the modern world. For example, when I ask all my “local” friends if they grew up here, only a couple said yes. (one a Mukilteo lifelong resident). But others came from: Utah, Mexico, Oregon and elsewhere. Our tennis group includes men from The Phillipines, Mexico, Brazil, Persia, Illinois, and I'm not from here.

Here's James McMurtry singing his country classic, "I'm Not From Here."

But our son came for a visit this past week. And that made everything much, much better.

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