When we bought this house, L. was a single father to 2 pre-teens. All three welcomed our little boys casual excursions through the garden gate to the fort built amongst the birch and spruce trees in the farthest corner of their park-like lot. L. grew accustom to two boys hanging over the fence calling out "Hey, L. What are you doing? Wanna come play with us?" Once he accepted their invitation to come over for "blueberry muffins and orange Tang". When they became teens, L's son and daughter babysat for us. We often saw the kids around town, and they were never too busy or too cool to stop and chat with Klaxon and Zarf. L. found a new partner, and she (and the peas she grew in their garden) became fair game for Zarf and Klaxon's attention. Their whole family travelled internationally, en masse and individually (only in their late teens, both kids have done solo trips abroad). They sent us postcards that made us green with envy and inspired us to rear globetrotters. When L's kids started to drive, they (and their friends) learned to slow down when they reached the cul-de-sac because the odds were pretty good some little person was riding a bike, chasing a dog, or throwing rocks in the middle of the tarmac. Sometimes it was me.
Today they moved.
We spent the weekend together. We checked out photos of the new house they've bought in Alberta. After 7 years, L's dog finally let my boys pet him. But only briefly. We laid claim to various bits and bobs they no longer needed and which we MIGHT need. "Hey, it's either coming to us or going to the dump!" is the reason we now have (amongst other things) a new filing cabinet, 300 garbage bags, and 12 ten-foot long bamboo rods. There was a going-away party yesterday and I (Mr Wrath is free of any blame) gave them this:
(The bow is flagging tape -- which both boys associate with L., a forester by trade and temperament)
"This is something you give to someone you really hate, or really like." said L.
"Like. REALLY like," I assured him.
We got up early this morning to see them off. Partially because I wanted to ensure that he didn't stick that painting in my shed. But mostly because I was already missing them. Zarf and Klaxon posed for photos. First with Chico. Then with L. and his partner. They climbed in their car and L. left the home he'd owned for 20 years. Where he'd raised his kids. Where he'd been an uncle to our kids.
As they drove away, the boys waved good-bye. Then they took off running. Waving and calling L's name. Chasing L.'s car down the block. Then they stood on the corner and waved until he was out of sight.
By the time they'd walked back up the block to where I stood on the front porch both needed a good long hug. And I needed one, too.