You guys! You guys!! YOU GUYS!!!
The most AMAZING thing just happened for me! But first, just because I like to drag it out, let me give you some back story:
I love my family. I love them a whole lot. I’m not too sure how they feel about me, but that’s ok. I especially loved my Grandpa C. He meant the world to me, and even though I said my goodbyes to him each time we parted (as I was sure it was always the last time due to his age and health), it still devastated me when he died.
Grandma & Grandpa C lived in a sweet little craftsman bungalow house in a darling little town near Pasadena. A little more than a block from the library park and bustling main street, there was always something fun to do when we visited. In their ginormous (by California standards) back yard there was a lemon tree from which the best lemonade is made. Not quite a year after Grandpa C passed away, Honey and I were married. We had a beautiful reception in the back yard of my childhood home. Grandma C was not up for traveling and it was hard for me to know that two of my favorite people couldn’t be there to share in celebrating our joy. That didn’t mean they couldn’t be there in spirit though, and the way I chose to involve them in the production was by having my mom travel from our home in suburban Sandy, UT to theirs in sunny southern CA to process those lovely lemons into juice for lemonade to be served at the reception.
In 2006 Grandma C was no longer able to live on her own. Uncle Dick and some of the family packed her up, sold the house, and moved her up north to be near him. Being so young and unestablished, we couldn’t afford to buy the house ourselves (something I still hope to do one day), and the loss of the family house still weighs on me. So many Christmases spent in the glow of the C7 lights and tinsel strung on the tree decorated with vintage ornaments, so many summers playing with the toys tucked away in the attic…
In the front of the house, and along one side of the back yard are these beautiful, hot pink camellia shrubs. When I was a child I loved to pick the fat, round buds and peel them layer by layer.
Instead of a regular garage, Grandma & Grandpa had a big, rickety barn. That barn was so full of grandpa’s junk… we used to joke that when they died, instead of packing up and junking the majority of what was inside, we’d blow it up as the most efficient means of getting rid of the contents. Underneath the house was a semi-upright crawl space. I never would go down in there because I was convinced it was so full of spiders and snakes that I’d die from some kind of bite in the dark. To the side of the yard was a small shed visible from the front, and behind it were permanent clothesline posts. Grandpa made a swing of sorts out of a small log and a length of rope. He’d attach it to the posts and swing us all afternoon. He also rigged up a horse made out of a barrel and scrap wood with an old rag rug for a saddle. It was parked under that lemon tree and we’d ride like the wind in our imaginations!
In the front on the side, there was this gnarly tree of undetermined species. All I remember is that it had a branch that was curved and shaped like a nest, making it a favorite spot for photos of the littlest family members.
This year I’m turning 40. That’s right, the big 4-0. Unlike my hubby (who is also turning 40, this week in fact!), I plan on having a huge party. There isn’t much that fills me with joy more than being surrounded by my family and friends, celebrating the life we share together; and I intend to do just that. We’ll have a piñata, music, kids swimming in the pool and grownups playing with the giant Jenga and Ker Plunk! games that B and I are going to build (from Pinterest, of course!), eat my favorite foods and a delicious cake that I will not be baking myself.
Can you guess what we’ll be drinking?
Last week I wrote a note to the current owners of the house. When I told Honey what I wanted to do he said I was crazy. I thought of what I could say that would convey to them that I’m not some crackpot; I don’t want to invade their privacy or go inside the house to case the joint, and I’m certainly not the Craigslist killer. I just miss my grandma and grandpa. I miss her sour face and his silly jokes. I miss stealing Brach’s butterscotch candies out of the crystal dish in the living room while grandma napped and singing the Johnny Appleseed song before meals. I miss the piano in the front parlor (that as far as I know, nobody ever played), and the cool seafoam tiles in the dark, tiny bathroom. I even miss the ancient stove in the kitchen and doing laundry on the back porch.
I miss that house and all the happy memories that were made there; and even though I still hope and dream to one day be able to buy the house back and live my golden years hauling toys down from the attic via the closet entry and making lemonade from the back yard tree for my own future grandchildren, I know it will probably never happen. But lucky for me, a kind and generous family live in that house now. They received my note and called me earlier this evening to let me know that I’m welcome any time to come down and pick lemons from the tree.
I can’t wait!