To Visit or Not to Visit

F2C09CA8-BE4B-4132-8CFD-E21DCA384F1BSince the start of the pandemic we’ve all been making choices. Who’s in your circle. To shop in person or with Instacart. To mask or not to mask (please mask). Which mask to wear today. One of the biggest decisions is whether to see family that doesn’t live with you. How do you decide when it’s worth the risk, and how do you calculate how much risk you are actually taking?

After weighing the pros and cons and the importance to my parents of laying eyes on us, we traveled to NH to visit my parents and our youngest child, who is in college out there and stayed put in her off-campus housing. 77CBA649-F056-4848-83AA-1AF60BDE7951NH has so far been doing better than where we live. We brought our masks and hand sanitizer. We were careful. I hope we were careful enough.



What I forgot to calculate was the emotional impact of seeing family in a physically distant manner. No big family meal. No hugs. Lots of outside time. Great conversations. Some heightened tensions. Fight with my sister (I touched her stuff- oops). More tears than usual (some of us are criers). But also deeper conversations than usual. Important conversations. The kind you think you might have “later” or that hadn’t previously occurred to you to have at all. I sometimes wish I wrote books, there are things that would be cool in a book. I learned things I hadn’t known. Stories never before shared with me. There is something about the higher risk and heightened circumstances of a visit in these times that causes us to speak more, share more. 



We didn’t spend the entire time near my parents. NH has the delightful landscape that allows for mountains and ocean less than two hours from each other. Neither of which one gets in our corner of the Midwest.

An AirBnB and some car time gave us lobster salad and wading in the ocean one day, ice cream and shallow mountain streams the next day. A bit of a break from the intensity of seeing parents whose time is now measured in years (I hope), rather than decades.

All this has made me crave books with fascinating or compelling family dynamics as a theme to the story. So I’m taking recommendations please!



  1. Thanks for writing about your summertime visit with your family, Ann. Your descriptions of its ups and downs are so realistic. Family dynamics fascinate me as well. Here are the titles of three books you might enjoy reading: GIRL, WOMAN, OTHER by Bernadine Evaristo, BELLE CITY, by Penny Mickelbury, and THE BUTTERFLY MOMENTS, one of my novels.Each of these books involves inter-family dynamics. I wish you and your family continued good health.


  2. The photo of the river is gorgeous! I’m glad you got to spend time with your parents, albeit socially distanced. I too am fascinated with family dynamics. My first book focuses on family dynamics & family secrets. The book is titled JUST BEYOND THE SHINING RIVER. It takes place in England, which is a place I love to visit (but not during a pandemic). You should also consider Erin Zak’s THE ROAD HOME–another book that focuses on family dynamics.


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