Etchings of Moments That Shape a Life

“We do not remember days, we remember moments. The richness of life lies in memories we have forgotten.” - Cesare Pavese 

Life can carry us far from our roots, but some bonds run deep enough to withstand the test of space and time. When Kim embarked on a journey back to her homeland, she knew she wasn’t the same person who had left it all those years ago. She had grown up, and was now boarding a plane with a partner and two young children at her side – children who would travel across the globe to see people and places they knew mostly through their mother’s stories and the lens of their own short life experiences. But when Kim stepped off the plane, she soon discovered that even with distance, it’s the moments we make the most of together that matter most.

Kim wasn’t quite sure what to expect upon her return to India, but she felt driven to go back. Both she and her sister had settled down in different countries, and her parents were living alone at the time.

“Since the pandemic hit, they had not travelled to see either of us. For health reasons, they were unable to travel too. So I made the decision, no matter how hard this trip would be with little ones, to visit them.”

Despite her worries, it almost seemed like time hadn’t passed when Kim first saw her family again. There it was – an instant bond she had nearly forgotten. What would make this sense of connection even more special was experiencing it now with her children. Looking back, Kim sees the time they spent in India as a series of “moments” that will live forever in their memories.

The renewing power of family

The family’s visit meant a lot to her parents too. Leading up to the trip, Kim noticed that they seemed to find a newfound sense of purpose as they prepared to open their home after the isolation of COVID-19.

“They mentioned how complacent they were not taking care of the home, and since we were going to be there, they did a bit of a reno to make our stay comfortable. They felt a sense of accomplishment in ‘doing’ and taking care of us again. They began to take care of themselves a bit more so they were in best health when we arrived.”

Kim sunk into the warm embrace of her family’s welcome. She and her partner were able to experience the joys of exploring together while her parents watched the children, and each day was marked with nurturing, home-cooked meals made with love. She hadn’t realized how much she had missed this, and the impact that had on her mental health.

“I slept much better at home in India, even though it was not my own bed. I felt like someone was taking care of me again, and it felt good.” 

Just as her parents pulled out all the stops, Kim’s extended family also showed up to make the most of their visit. As she reconnected with cousins, aunts, and uncles, Kim realized that she wasn’t the only one who had been changed by time.

“Life moves on for everyone in various ways. When you’re away for so long, you think that time stands still for everyone - the place you left is the same as you left it, but everything progresses and life moves on. I had the same images of the place I left 8 years ago, but I was wrong.”

Time between generations

One of the most rewarding parts of the journey was seeing her children gain exposure to their roots and important “moments” to carry home and keep for the rest of their lives.

“Walking through the streets and spontaneously chatting with people improved their social skills and let them be open with what various places have to offer. They noticed people dress in a different style of clothing, like saris. They learned about different foods they don’t normally eat in Canada.”

Her parents took special pride in taking their grandchildren under their wing and showing them off. Despite the generational gap, they made the effort to learn how to communicate and find points of connection. Seeing her parents take so much care to nurture that relationship opened a deeper curiosity in Kim to know them better too. “It makes me want to listen to their stories.”

Connecting across time zones

Since her return home, moments continue to be defined by family. After spending so much quality time together in person, Kim cherishes the weekly calls she now has with her sister and parents.

“A weekend is not complete without our chats. During Xmas, the family gets together to make sweets. This is now happening across time zones, where we call each other when we need a recipe or even while making those sweets.”

Kim’s mindset around keeping family ties strong – and even forging new ones – shifted deeply after she saw the positive impact these ties can have. Her kids FaceTime their grandparents regularly now, and Kim makes a point of sharing more videos and photos so they can watch them grow up in real time. Whenever possible, she seeks out opportunities to just ‘be’ with family.

“Without hesitation, I would help a family member visit and live with us for a bit. I appreciate my husband's family here and the relationship they have with my kids and encourage them to spend more time together. I try and meet and interact with relatives in Canada a little more …  I would jump at the opportunity to visit home at any given moment.” 

The time away from her place of origin doesn’t diminish Kim’s appreciation of where she comes from – it’s taught her how to grow and stay rooted through the moments that matter most.

Moments like:

Greeting fish vendors at the door, and watching through my children’s eyes the process of cooking fried pomfrets and pomfret curry.
My youngest trying the “big” dosa for the first time.
Connecting with my ancestors and our practices through photos - a grandad I never met, a tradition of infant massage (mirabai) that we still practice today.
Discovering Madras filtered coffee again - yum! ... and the loving, but argumentative, mornings around “what to eat” between Granddad & Grandson.
Feeling “at home”, even though this is is a “home” they’ve never known.

We love how Kim’s story shows that roots don’t have to be defined by geography and can be made stronger by collecting “moments” between generations. To capture meaningful moments in your own life story, start a conversation today with family through our Conversation Tool or card decks.


Do you have a travel story that has helped shape your relationship to your roots? We want to hear it! Share in the comments below.

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