The deed is done. A new adventure has begun. Our daughter, now a senior in college, is embarking on a semester of study abroad. With a major in anthropology and a keen interest in archaeology—not to mention a fascination with all things Irish, particularly when linked to history—she has chosen to spend that semester in (no surprise here) Ireland.
Just last evening, she stepped aboard the plane that would take her to her destination. We dropped her off at the airport, said our fond farewells, then did what newly-minted empty-nesters do: celebrate by going out to dinner. Just the two of us.
Don’t think of us as hard-hearted parents. After all, it was rush hour. We had to find something to do to avoid the traffic. Besides, I hadn’t eaten much all day long. I don’t do well with fine dining under duress.
By the time we made the drive all the way home, the intrepid foreign student was already aloft, and had been flying for almost an hour. I know: that’s all. Just checking in at the obligatory advanced time becomes an ordeal in itself. It was hurry up and wait. I imagine our daughter had become well acquainted with that airport waiting room by the time she boarded her flight.
When we got home—I warn you, I can get obsessive with focus—my husband and I explored Internet resources for flight tracking. He found this nifty website which provides maps and tons of data on whatever flight you might wish to follow. We, of course, focused on the matter at hand: the flight path of our own daughter. Who cares about the 83,326 flights the website had tracked in the last twenty four hours?! For us, there was only one.
After all is said and done—hopefully, upon completion of the flight and connection with the transportation scheduled to deliver her to her lodging for the next night—it will be a matter of a mere continent plus an ocean’s distance from her home to ours. A trifling matter of eight time zones difference. Nothing insurmountable.
Besides, we will bridge that gap sometime in the next two months. Don’t forget: part of the plan in this adventure was to use the
opportunity to go visit our darling daughter. Wouldn’t want her to languish,
pining away from homesickness. Why not bring a little home cheer her way?
And so it will be, come October, that we will lessen that distance between us and head to Ireland, ourselves. Included in that visit will be a week’s worth of research in the archives, libraries and records offices of Dublin and other locations, and on-site visits to the towns already determined to be former homes of our Irish forebears. Oh how grand it would be to locate distant cousins while we are there, but I hardly think that would be possible. The combination of common surnames plus time lapse of over one hundred sixty years since immigration may make some goals next to impossible. But it will be a treat, in and of itself, to bridge that continent-plus-ocean-wide gap between here and there, and walk where someone in our family once walked. Even if it is walking in the footsteps of the descendant who is taking classes in Ireland this very semester.