“We have the same policy as Grandma,” my 26-year old son says to me from his home in Denver, Colorado, where he lives with his wife.

“You’re welcome any time.”

He grew up hearing that from his Grandma, my mom, who lives in the San Fernando Valley in southern California, my home from age 6 to 22.

I grew up hearing it from my grandparents who lived just above the Valley, off Coldwater Canyon. During a difficult period of adolescence, I needed a break from my parents and found refuge almost every evening at Grandpa Carl and Grandma Ruth’s house. They fed me and avoided uncomfortable topics.

“You’re welcome any time, dahling!”

Grandma Ruth watched me grow up and fall in love with a man who wanted me to move with him to Portland, Maine. When she questioned the wisdom of others’ choices, Grandma raised an eyebrow and later told others, “I didn’t say a word!” In retrospect, this was probably her response to my plan. My father, on the other hand, was less reserved. He had never been to Portland, but he was sure it was “pretty, polite and boring.”


Despite Dad’s doubts, we moved to Maine, where we established careers, raised a family and felt the years whiz by. To us, Portland is indeed pretty, usually polite, but never boring. Moreover, it’s home. In our mid-20s we drove here in a shiny new hatchback and a U-Haul moving van. Now in our 50s, we’ve found community, discovered passions and causes, struggled through transitions, raised two sons, and watched them move far away.

They are welcome any time, but they’re busy. So they tell us that we’re welcome any time, and we visit when we can.

Mostly, though, we find ourselves rather like the proverbial dad in the song “Cat’s in the Cradle.” We both moved far away from our families of origin, so what did we expect? Our younger son followed his beloved to Denver. Our older son followed his calling for patriotic duty by joining the Army. His wife followed. Stationed now in El Paso, Texas, they’re waiting to hear whether he gets deployed to Afghanistan. If called, he’ll absolutely go.

“It would be more interesting, more challenging, and more high-stakes” than staying in the U.S., he tells us.

So there you have it. We taught our kids to dream, and to follow those dreams wherever they take you. And at the same time, to keep in mind our policy: “You’re welcome any time.”

Meetinghouse is a community storytelling project hosted by the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram.

Read more stories from Maine at www.pressherald.com/meetinghouse

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