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Posted 05-15-2011 at 03:27 PM by Jeff Westover

Late last night my girls came home.

They left ten days ago, my 25-year old, Aubree, at the wheel of her 15-year old Honda with 160,000 miles on it. Her two teen sisters -- Allie, age 15 and Maggie, age 13 -- providing navigation and good humor all the way.

They left as a birthday/Mother's Day surprise for their grandmother, living some 700 miles away in California.

Was I nuts? How could I allow such a foolish thing to happen? Sending three young women alone across the wilds of Nevada with miles of lonely road where anything could go wrong.

Years ago I made the same trip many times in my little Dodge Colt. Alone. Often on short sleep. And every time with little money in my pocket. Back in those days I could make the drive from Utah to California for $30 one way and more than once I left Friday after work just to see my Mom for a little while before heading back on a Sunday morning. Ten hours -- if lucky and I pushed it -- was usually all it took to get back and forth.

Of course, we have modern conveniences I didn't have then.

With the cell phone I made the back seat driver text me at every city along the way. I know that road by heart. I timed their leaving I knew exactly where they needed to be and when.

If Aubree was speeding, I'd know it. (She didn't).

They arrived on a Thursday night, achieved their element of surprise, nearly giving their grandparents a heart attack in the process. They stayed for 10 glorious days, regaling each other with day and night storytelling. With Pops they played the guitar together, thrilled he would bring home with him the next night a collection of picks and new strings he had found time to buy during his work day. With Nonny they went swimming -- impromptu fashion, in their clothes, just because they could.

At home here their absence was immediately felt. It was quiet. There was hot water for the showers, towels in abundance, and room in front of the mirror. They were missed in other areas too. The dishes had to be done by me, and dinner completely by my wife. My little girls, Madelyn age 10 and Emma, just turned 9, felt spoiled for as often as we blew off dinner and just went out to eat.

My 18 year old daughter Abby, after a week, actually admitted on Facebook that she missed her sisters.

And my son, the dutiful brother, kept looking for them on YouTube, just to see what they were doing with his video camera.

Aubree had to get home by today because she starts her new job tomorrow. She planned to stay until the last possible minute. Fortunately, a rare mid-May snowstorm threatened the Sierras and I was able to convince her to come home earlier. And last night they arrived, at 10pm.

Oh, the noise they all made. My youngest girls screeching like Santa himself had come. As I saw all the hugs being exchanged and felt the noise level in the house rise with the laughter and storytelling I sent up a silent prayer of gratitude for their safe return.

And as I witnessed the reunion my prayer turned its focus from their safe return to their solid understanding of the true order of family.

Love drove them to California to spend time with their grandparents. There they made memories that money can't buy and that even I as their father cannot on my own supply.

And love brought them home, where their best friends are found.

Late into the night the girls -- all of them, from ages 9 to 25 -- chatted, laughed, sang and told jokes.

This energy of a large, close family can only be experienced. I cannot adequately describe what it really feels like.

But as Ma and I settled into to sleep -- gratefully achieved after ten days of sleepless wondering if they were safe -- we did so to the quiet hum of their activity -- from clothes being put in the washer to hair dryers going at one in the morning.

It was, when all was said and done, a beautiful noise to hear at last.

Some day, when they are all gone to noisy homes of their own, I wonder just what Sandy and I are going to do and how we're going to feel.

I cannot picture it.

It has always been this way. And if we're lucky, it will be this way a while longer.
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  1. Old Comment
    [B]Jeff so glad your family are all back together. You are right....there is nothing like the closeness of family, especially a large family. We were not that large of a family but I often think back to the times when we were all younger, when my two brothers were alive and my sister and I just youngsters. I miss those times. I remember all the chaos and exuberance of Christmas morning together and at other times during the year. Thank you for sharing once again, Jeff. As I said before, your soul shines beautiful and we all feel it. God bless xo[/B]
    Posted 05-15-2011 at 04:34 PM by caninemom3 caninemom3 is offline
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