This Christmas period has been quite different to any that have come before - principally because Emma is now working and only arrived home the day before Christmas Eve. Instead, the run up to Christmas was dominated by the visit of Linda's parents for 6 nights.
But around the time she came back, Emma suggested that she would probably prefer to stay a few more days with us. One of her friends was having a New Year's Party at her home in Winchester and Emma thought it would be best if she went there from Oxford this Friday, returned here Saturday, and then we all went up to London on Sunday. So she would be here for a couple more days.
Given that I wouldn't really seen her much over Christmas, I was rather pleased with this change of plan. We talked of doing some cooking together, watching some movies, going into Oxford for a look round the bookshops. Sadly, by a gradual process, plans have been changed today and none of this will now happen. I have not been able to avoid feeling deeply saddened by this.
Instead we are back to plan of Emma returning to London on Thursday. One of her flatmates will be back and they can go to the Winchester party together. Then she can go to her gym, maybe see a couple of her other friends, and so on. No doubt this is a better plan for her.
My sadness is compounded by Linda and Emma making their plans today for various things they are doing together in 2011 - their Spa day in January, where my role is to drive Linda to London for a 10:00 start and then drive her back home at 4:30 - apparently plans for us all to have dinner together afterwards have been shelved. And their week's holiday together in late April. The limit of my hopes had been that we would make paella together this Saturday, but this isn't happening any more.
It would have been better if the original plans had never changed and that we were simply returning Emma to London on Thursday. But the change of plans, first in a way I am pleased about and then the reverse, is clearly worse. The looking forward to something and then have it taken away . . . .
Thinking back to the distant past, I can remember the period just after Christopher died (June 1974). In this period, mum decided to become an antique dealer and dad and I started to follow Speedway. But a few year's later and I was off to University and the start of my career. It occurs to me now that my Dad must have found that a very sad process, just as I have over the last few years. I rarely have any regrets about how my life has gone, but this is one of them. I would have liked to have spent more time with my Dad - all of those times he would ask me if I fancied going to the Lake District for a few days with him and I was too busy. It breaks my heart to think of this now
(Some time ago I was looking through an old album of dad's photos of the Lake District and stumbled across some pictures of Alcock Tarn. He has captioned the pictures "Perhaps the last time I will see Alcock Tarn". When my Dad died, I scattered his ashes as Easedale Tarn - I was looking at the photos I took of this the other day, a panoramic picture with Emma sitting on a rock to the right and the bay where Dad is to the left. I wonder if he would have prefered to be at Alcock Tarn instead?)
Alcock Tarn - a tiny secluded tarn to the east of Grasmere
It is a sad irony of parenthood that the more successful one is in bringing your children up to be confident adults, the less that want to spend time with you.