Goodbyes are always hard.


Today, I had to say goodbye to both my daughter and granddaughter as they start their new lives in Michigan along with my son-in-law.



My daughter is an Arizona native and this is the beginning of a wonderful adventure for her and her young family.


The past 3 weeks have been a whirlwind of packing, saying goodbye to her students at the local  high school where she is was a history teacher.

So why are they moving to Michigan – a place that my daughter has never visited before?

My son-in-law was hired as a professor at Northern Central Michigan College in Petoskey, which sits near the top of the ‘mitten’ of Michigan.

He had to leave quickly to get settled in before the new semester began, leaving my daughter to get everything packed up.


Moving day was exciting for my granddaughter, Lily who watched as the movers took everything that was near and dear to her and put it in a big truck.

After standing for awhile, she pulled out a chair to sit and watch all the activity until it was time to load up the chair she was sitting on.


Her grandpa and I did our best to keep her occupied with all of the changes going on.

The best part of this entire process was that they moved in with us for several days while my daughter finished her last week teaching.


We helped Lily keep in touch with her dad by texting him pictures that she drew for him.

With all the changes, Lily very well for a 3-year old girl whose world is going through a momentous change.  

Our last week together was spent reading favorite books together, including “Goodnight Moon”, which I always read to her before her nap.  I gave her new one to take to Michigan.



A date at our favorite McDonald’s was a must-do before they left.

This morning, we got up early and drove to them to the Phoenix airport for their flight.  This was to be Lily’s first time on an airplane and she was excited.


This was the moment that I dreaded…saying goodbye to my daughter and Lily.

I realize that I have been incredibly blessed to have always had them living close by.


From being there the day Lily was born 3 1/2 years ago, seeing her take her first steps, wiping away her tears and enjoying her sunny presence twice a week when I would babysit her – there will be a hole that is hard to fill.


Lily has also been my gardening buddy.


From helping take care of the herb container we made for her mom…


To watching her collect wildflowers for her ‘flower collection’ that she keeps in her jewelry box – I will miss her love for flowers.


So, how am I doing after bidding goodbye to my oldest daughter and Lily?

After hugging them “goodbye” at the airport, I was doing pretty good – in fact I was rather proud of myself…no tears were shed.

That is until we were shopping at Costco a short time later and I saw a grandmother with her granddaughter and I completely broke down, making a spectable of myself.  Shoppers were probably wondering what it was at the meat counter that was making me so sad.

I regained control of myself, but then we passed by the bank that my daughter used to work at years ago and the tears started up again.

And then we passed by Lily’s favorite McDonald’s on our way home – and so it goes…

So, while my mother and grandmother’s heart is sad, it is also happy for them and their new adventure in beautiful Michigan.


As I mentioned before, they are moving the picturesque town of Petoskey.

Coincidentally, I visited Petoskey just last year along with my mother on one of our annual road trips.


It sits right on the water’s edge of Lake Michigan.


The gardens are beautiful and I look forward to visiting them as often as I can – hopefully this fall.

There will be new adventures to be had discovering this new area.  I can hardly wait to help them create their new Michigan garden in the future.


As I write this, I am looking at Lily’s little work space next to my desk.


On it is her latest coloring page alongside her much-loved crayons.  She would often sit next to me and “work with Grandma” while I wrote garden articles or worked on my latest landscape design.


I’ll put them away for awhile where they will wait for her to come back and visit – hopefully at Christmas.
Thank you for spending a few moments out of your day allowing me to share what’s on my heart.  I already feel better 🙂

**How about you?  Do your family members live close by or far away?  How often are you able to visit?
Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a horticulturist, certified arborist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."

11 replies
  1. RobinL
    RobinL says:

    I think I've spoken to you before about how lucky you were to have your children so close, and now you begin to feel my pain. My children and grandchildren are in Michigan too, and we are in Ohio. It's not nearly as far away as you, but it sure feels like it to me. I'm often envious of grandmother and grandchildren that I see together. I wish I could say that it gets easier, but it doesn't. All you can do is learn to accept your life as it is. There are things you can't change. At least they are in the gorgeous town of Petoskey, so your visits there should be lovely. When I see my kids, I have to go to Detroit, yuck! LOL

  2. arizonaplantlady@gmail.com
    arizonaplantlady@gmail.com says:

    Hi Robyn,

    Thank you for your kind words. I realize that I have been so blessed to have my daughter and granddaughter live so close to me. Somehow that makes it harder to see them leave. I will be following your advice and cannot wait to spend more time in Petoskey, although I may avoid traveling there in winter.

    I hope that there are upcoming visits for you with your children 🙂

    Best,
    Noelle

  3. FlowerLady Lorraine
    FlowerLady Lorraine says:

    Partings are so hard to do. Such sweet pictures you took your last few days with them.

    They are on a wonderful new adventure and so are you. New memories will be made and shared and visits between you all will be great. They sure moved to a lovely place.

    I'm going to see my mother who I've not seen in quite some time. I'm excited and also nervous as we've not had the best of relationships. I pray that all will go well.

    We have to keep good memories locked in our hearts and let the unhappy ones go.

    Have a nice holiday ~ FlowerLady

  4. claudette
    claudette says:

    What a sweet little granddaughter. I'm sorry for the rough time you're having. I know how hard it is. My family is spread across the world–Arizona, California, New York, and Ireland. I feel like there's never enough time or money to visit them all. Even worse, my daughter is too shy to talk on the phone and my mother and stepfather dont like to travel anymore. Such is the curse of modern times I suppose. Happily, you seem very close to your kids. I imagine you will make the most of technology– phones, Skype, email, etc. You have a good bond with them. Distance will not break that. 🙂

  5. Lauren
    Lauren says:

    Read your post and it struck a cord because my family moved away from my husbands family for the very same reason as your son-in-laws. We were in AZ & now we're in MO (but I still always read your blog 😉 Our little one didn't get to spend the first few years with her grandparents though as she was brand new at the time. I know how sad it is. And I know your daughter will dearly miss all of the support and babysitting she got from you in AZ. All I can say is that despite the lack of time together our little one still loves to talk about her grandparents (none are close) all the time and especially loves that when she does see them it's on an exciting vacation 🙂

  6. Lauren
    Lauren says:

    After reading your post I had to leave a reply because I know how hard this situation is- my family had to move away from my husbands family for the same reason as your son-in-laws. We were in AZ & now we're in MO (though I still always read your blog) and it's still difficult- though since my little one was brand new when we moved we didn't get to spend 3 years seeing grandparents on a regular occassion. I know too that your daughter will dearly miss all of the support and babysitting services she got from you while in AZ and all I can say in the hopes of easing the serperation is that even without the 3 years of living near grandparents, my little one loves to talk on the phone with them and talk about all the things they'll do together when they do come or when we visit (which is even better because then seeing grandparents is always on 'vacation time'-all the more exciting)

  7. Nancy in Sun Lakes AZ
    Nancy in Sun Lakes AZ says:

    For me it was so painful to have my daughter and family move to NC back a number of years ago. Such an ache in my heart. It was before texting and cell phones, but I talked on the phone every Sunday with them all the years they were gone.
    Finally, after 5 years, they came back to the Phoenix area and I was happy beyond words.
    At least today you will be able to see your little granddaughter on FaceTime or similar product that will be so wonderful.
    Noelle, now you will be learning all about growing plants in a climate with snowy, cold winters. That will be fun!

  8. Seasons
    Seasons says:

    Our kids attend U of A, so it's about 2 hours-ish for them to come home,or us to go see them. Our daughter was just home for a day and a night, and it is always hard to say goodbye. She does miss home, and we see her a bit more because our son is busy working as well as going to school. I think it is almost harder seeing them more often, and saying goodbye more often. When they are here, they have friends to go see as well as us, and so it is bittersweet in many ways. They have these lives with studies and people that are their networks, and I am glad for that. But again, always hard to say goodbye. I can already anticipate grandchild goodbyes, UG! Hang in there. What else can you do? Thank goodness for all the modern ways to keep in touch!

  9. arizonaplantlady@gmail.com
    arizonaplantlady@gmail.com says:

    Dear Lorraine, Claudette, Lauren, Nancy and Seasons,

    Thank you so very much for your encouraging comments! I realize that I've been rather spoiled having them so close by all these years, but it's nice to know that we can keep in touch easily – especially with today's technology.

    Family, no matter how far they live are a wonderful blessing 🙂

    I am very excited to be able to garden in Michigan!

    With deep appreciation,
    Noelle 'AZ Plant Lady'

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