I’ve been gone for days. Physically, yes, but mentally too.
I checked my email once while we were in Myrtle Beach from Friday until yesterday. Vacation doesn’t feel much like vacation if you’re just as plugged in while you’re gone as you would be at home.
My dad – bless him – is not known for his ability to relax. Growing up a preacher’s kid, I remember our vacations being interrupted on numerous occasions by phone calls from church members saying that someone was dying, had died, that dad was needed back home to pray with the family, to lead the funeral. He’d usually drive back for a couple of days, meeting us later, sometimes just in time to pack us up and take us home.
His current preaching job is only part-time, and somehow he’s found two small churches who value his family time, who don’t seem to mind that he wants to spend time with his wife, or play in three different bands, or own his own music store. But even those things keep him from unplugging now.
Two years ago, when Simon and I had first gotten married, Dad and Mom came to England to visit. Business was slow at the store, and it consumed his thoughts. He spent most of the trip emailing back and forth with the store manager, desperately trying to figure out how to pay the UPS man, the electric bill, at the beginning of what we had no idea would become this Recession.
I love that my dad has always worked so hard for our family. We lived on a meager pastor’s salary when we were kids so my mom could stay home with us, and it wasn’t until a few years ago that I discovered just how little we’d lived on. It wasn’t until recently that I realized the reason my Care Bear didn’t look like my friends’ was that my grandma had made it from a pattern instead of buying it from Toys ‘R Us; or that not everyone got Christmas dress hand-me-downs from Mary Morgan Barbour – some people got new dresses from Belk, or first-day-of-school outfits from Limited Too.
I love that I grew up this way. I love that my dad sacrificed so much – and worked so hard – to take care of his family. He’s downsized his business now, in light of the economic slowing down. But I covet time away for him. I want him to turn off his phone, to lock the shop doors, to leave the laptop in its case. I want him to read a book on the couch, to play bocce ball in the sand, to sit in a beach chair while the waves lap around his feet.
It’s the least he could do.