What I hate about being Transplanted North

This post is for anyone who has been taken care of by a relative, or anyone who changed plans or dropped every other responsibility in one’s life to take care of a loved one. So, I guess you can say this post is for everyone.

A transplant never really cuts all roots from where it first sprouted. Tendrils and shoots wind and twist back over states, oceans and continents, especially if the bulk of the transplant’s family still lives where they were originally planted. And sometimes, the parent plant can pull on those roots pretty hard.

Last week, my family had its plans tremendously and suddenly altered. It was to be a perfect summer week spent in Western New York: my parents were coming up to visit! We were going to explore Canandaigua, hike some local trails, visit the Rochester Public Market, check out a museum. Then, my folks were to take my youngest son back with them to Staten Island for a week of fun in New York City.

The day before their planned arrival,  I worked at getting the upstairs room ready and poured through magazines looking for the perfect summer recipes.

You know that saying, Man makes plans, God laughs?

The day before the visit, I got the call from my dad from the emergency room. Through a weak signal, I could make out that my mom was having terrible pains in her abdomen, and that she needed emergency surgery. My mom was in pain and my dad sounded scared. And I, the transplant, was about 400 miles away.

If you have ever received a call like this, you know how your mind reels. What to do? Wait it out? Leave immediately? Fly? Drive? And what about kids? Do you take them along for the ride, and if you do, how can you be a help out a loved one in the hospital with kids in tow? No, that won’t work.

So calls have to be made, favors have to be asked to watch kids from people who never have to ask favors from us transplants. Why? Because of all their family – their support network –  lives in town.

Luckily, summer schedules found two of my kids still away at sleep-a-way camp and my youngest in day camp. Luckily, I have an amazing and supportive husband who booked me a flight to JFK, a friend here who drove me to the airport, a wonderful father-in-law who picked me up from the airport – with a packed lunch even  – drove me to the hospital and waited with my dad and brother while my mom had her operation.

And, most luckily, as scary as this whole ordeal was, this operation saved my mother’s life. And it taught me that people – family – manage to come together to make everything alright. Through the waiting, I spent time alone with my brother and dad in a way that I haven’t since I was 17 years old. No spouses, no kids, just the three of us, waiting and talking.

Through my mom’s recovery, I cooked meals and spent time with my sister-in-law.  And when the week turned into the weekend, I was reunited with my husband and Toby in Staten Island.  In my childhood bedroom, I read him a bedtime story, but not before bedtime was interrupted by a surprise fireworks show from a nearby beach that could be seen out my window.

People ask me how I can still consider myself a transplant after living in Rochester for ten years. After ten years of living “up here, you should be used to it,” they say.  But, ten years can still considered as being a pioneer in the woods compared to five generations of my family’s roots in New York City.

Why do I hate being a transplant?  This week, now that I’m home – or back- or wherever I am –  was a fine example of why.

About stacylynngittleman

I have been a reporter and public relations professional for over 30 years, specializing in profile features and investigative longform writing. During my career I've profiled WWII Honor Flight Veterans, artists and musicians and have written on topics that range from environmental and gun control issues to Jewish culture. Click around on my writing samples plus read my blog on my personal life raising three kids over 27 years and three cities.

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