Many of us moved to Alaska from the Lower 48. If we come here when we’re young, we have children here. They become rooted in our communities and have mini-Alaskans of their own. Those of us who come from other states have our families of origin down in America. So when serious things happen with parents, grandparents, and other family members, it is a fact of life that we must decide what to do. Not everyone is in a position to travel south, and most of us are constrained by jobs, time, and finances.
Lower Forty-Eighters tease us about our lust to collect frequent flier miles. There’s a good reason for that. Yes, we love to vacation in Hawaii same as the next person, but largely it is to make haste on the next flight Out in case of a family or friend emergency.
Thankfully, Alaska Airlines ‘gifts’ us Club 49 members (residents of Alaska) with a 30% off fare for immediate air travel. I’ve used it several times and so have others I know. That’s great for traveling to Alaska Airlines destinations. Otherwise we collect frequent flier miles like people collect coins or stamps, to travel on other airlines; or you accrue credit card debt, hopefully with a card that will earn you more miles!
The decision whether to go Outside (outside of Alaska) when you-know-what hits the fan is a deeply personal one. We don’t always make it to extended family funerals for any number of reasons. One thing is fairly certain: when things happen with your parents or kids, you go no matter what.
When family members need a caregiver and you live in Alaska, it is a challenge. You do what you can, however you can, and if you must “commute” back and forth, then that’s the way it is. You suck it up and do it.
When something life-threatening happens to someone you love, and you jump on the next plane Outside, you hope and pray you make it in time. Sometimes you do and sometimes you don’t. I was lucky and made it in time for my mom; I didn’t make it in time for my sisters. I have friends and co-workers who haven’t always made it in time. It is heart-breaking. You learn to live with it.
If you’re unable to fly down, you make the phone calls and send the flowers and cards. It’s not the same as being there. You tell your loved ones that your thoughts and prayers are with them. You tell them you love them.
The thing is this: You do the best you can when you live here. All Alaskans know this and accept it as one of the facts of living far away from loved ones. If not, we move back to the Lower 48 to be closer to them.
Talk to any Alaskan and we will tell you that our friends become family in this far-flung place. We fill in as family for one another. When serious things happen to our friends and family, we are here for each other.
That’s the way it’s done here.
Just another fact of life when you live North of 60 degrees latitude.
© 2015 Lois Paige Simenson and The Alaska Philosophaster. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to The Alaska Philosophaster with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. LIPS