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I always look forward to Gill’s annual three week long summer visit. And while I look forward to it, I am also grateful in some ways that she lives in Britain now.  Why? Because if she worked in North America, chances are I’d see much less of her. We on this continent tend to think work is everything and so companies dole out vacation time accordingly. You’re lucky to get two weeks’ holidays after many years of employment.

Three weeks seems like such a long time — until it is upon us. Before her arrival, she posts several things she would like to do, places she’d like to go with the family. We enthusiastically agree on one or two places and by the time she arrives, our plans are toast. Someone has to work since they’re in a new job or traveling for work or have an ailment or injury. Our hearts are in the right place. It’s just that our lives are complicated and unpredictable.

Perhaps that’s why, this year, I’ve planned several visits with friends and neighbors that Gill wasn’t expecting. I’m trying to make sure her visit here feels action-packed and is fulfilling.

Case in point: the other day during my walk, I ran into a neighbor lady. We walked together for a while and when she discovered (I don’t know HOW she found out…did someone (me) blab?) Gill was in town, she issued an invitation for us to pop in for a cup of tea and a chat. “We haven’t seen her for ages!” the lady said, implying criticism that Gill hadn’t seen fit to bother in years past. “Oh, she’d love to!” I exhorted enthusiastically.

Back at home, I gave Gill the news.She countered with: “Oh, that’s so sweet. I’d love to see them again but there’s just no time. I’m visiting my friends in Toronto for four days, there’s time with you guys, errands to run, some work to do. And then Crazy D and L’il Sis aren’t available when I thought they’d be. Having to rejig –everything is complicated. My schedule is so jam packed, I don’t think there will be time. I’d like to visit them but I don’t see it happening.” Figuring that half-a-loaf is better than none, I visited them myself and sent Gill’s love.

Then we ran into an old friend from Gill’s high school days at the pool. I am friends with her mother as well and have been trying to get together with her for ages. “Maybe we can all get together for dinner next week, ” she said. “We’re taking the kids camping this week but after that we’re free.”

“Great!” both Gill and I said. Our intentions were the best but there simply wasn’t time.

Then we found out that Other Brother’s sister and her kids were coming to visit their parents. They arrived just before Gill’s trip back to England. We planned to squeeze in a short visit the day she flew but once again, things got ahead of us.

The final straw came a few days ago when I arrived back at the house after another walk. “I ran into Chuck, one of my dog-walking pals. We had a lovely chat and he asked about you.”

“Whoa, Ma! I’m sure he’s a lovely man and I know you really like him and his dog but I can’t fit into another ‘quick visit’…even if it’s Jesus, The Pope and Hillary Clinton all in one room. I’m tapped out!”

It’s a frustrating thing. She wants to see everyone and do all the things on the list. It never happens. But this time, we did manage to fit in most of our plans. I suspect, although Gill did have some down time and many, many swims in the pool and numerous meals of corn, tomatoes and peaches, she will return to England exhausted.

But that doesn’t mean she should stop trying to do and see it all. We are thrilled and grateful that she still cares enough to make the effort. And I look forward to returning the favor in the fall when I finally visit her in Bristol. And then, of course, there’s always her two weeks plus at Christmas. Yes, I consider myself blessed to see her as much as I do.