Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Take Me on a Sentimental Journey

 My sister and I met up in Atlanta to fly together to Washington for Little Grandma's funeral. We stopped in Las Vegas, where we found some wicked-looking slot machines...which we didn't waste our money on.
 What happened in Vegas didn't stay in Vegas, though. We discovered we were on the same flight as my cousin, who also lives across the country. So we ended up flying to Bellingham together, and her sister flew in to the same airport several minutes later.
The few of us who had arrived met up at the beach house they were renting and ate dinner together.

 My sister and I literally went from Sea to Shining Sea that day.
These are nothing like our sunny, sandy, Life in the Swamp beaches, but I've been homesick for that rocky ocean for so many years, I didn't mind the cold rain.

 There were only a few cousins who couldn't make it to grandma's funeral, and we missed them! But it was amazing at how many cousins were able to fly in from all over the country for what might be our last extended family reunion. It was wonderful to feel the love we all have for our grandparents and parents. Lots of joyful tears were shed, lots of hugs were exchanged, and lots of memories were shared. It was a little bit like the reunion I imagine Little Grandma was getting as she met her relatives and friends on the other side of the veil.

 I wasn't able to attend my other grandparents' funerals. It was a pleasant surprise to learn they are buried several feet away from Little Grandma and grandpa, along with many other relatives. It was a double-memorial for me.
 Aunt Lori showed me where my grandparents and other relatives were buried in that cemetery, and told me stories about my grandparents' funerals. It was touching, and I'm glad I got to be there for that.

All of the cousins and aunts and uncles and second cousins and cousins-once-removed who were able to gather together to celebrate Little Grandma. We're a pretty awesome bunch...

My grandma had dementia for years, so it's a relief to know she's free from her hardships here. But it is still hard to say goodbye. When they closed the coffin, and later, when we saw the mound where she was buried, I ached, knowing she's gone. But I'm so grateful to know about God's Plan of Happiness, and know she's in a wonderful place, with people who love her as much as I do.

 After the funeral, we went on a Sentimental Journey. We wandered around my grandparents' old property, and then checked out my other grandparent's old houses, too. So many memories were stirred by the sights, and sounds, and especially the smells of Bellingham.
 Since I couldn't go to my other grandma's funeral several months ago, my parents took my siblings and I to her favorite fish & chip's place, where we all had her favorite dish in her honor. It was nice to hear my mom's stories about her own growing up years, and the years she cared for her own mother, and more about the funeral I couldn't attend.

 We went to visit my mom's older brother Warren and his wife. They have a beautiful old house on a scenic organic farm. It was fun listening to Warren talk, because he reminded me so much of my grandpa. He inherited many handsome features from his dad, as well as his witty banter, which I've missed.
 Then my parents took us to "their" places. As a teenager, my mom used to come from Southern California to Bellingham, to stay with her sister for the summers. My parents showed me where they first met. The telephone booth where my dad got up his courage to call my mom, and then in the picture above, the place where they had their first date (which happened to be a family party!). It was fun to see them fall in love all over again as they remembered those things.

 I demanded begged to go see Chuckanut Drive -- one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
 I love the briny ocean smell.
The sparkling, smooth rocks.
The forest islands and rocky cliffs.
The ships disappearing in the horizon. 

It's the stuff dreams are made of!
 And who knew Bigfoot lived on Chuckanut Drive...

Whatcom Falls came in at close second as the most beautiful place on Earth. The mossy bridge, dense forest, and roaring falls were stunning. I couldn't believe my parents never took me there in all the years we went to Washington.
 Then it was time to fly back to The Swamp. The Bellingham airport looked a lot like a gas station. Or maybe a ski lodge. And the people there were so friendly and helpful, I'd recommend it (and Alaska Airlines) to anyone.
 Here's the view of the San Juan Islands out my window. It was so amazing to fly toward Seattle along the coast, watching the islands, the ocean, and the huge mountains pass by beneath me.

 And this was on the driverless subway in Seattle. It was slightly creepy to look left, then look right, and see only windows. No driver.
But see how happy I am? This is before we sat for hours, before we could board the massive airplane and fly all night. Then we had a several-hour layover in Atlanta, where my next flight was delayed even longer because the 2-man-crew disappeared. Seriously. About a half-hour after my flight was supposed to have left, the pilot stuck his head out and asked the desk guy if he'd seen the crew. They'd gone out to party and never came back.
When we finally boarded, the pilot said we were missing something on one of the brakes, so they wouldn't work. But he then reassured us that we still had some brakes left. I have so much luck with flying...

I didn't sleep all night, and when my kids came home from school, I laid down on the couch and took a nap. A three-hour nap. Such a deep-sleep nap that when I woke up, I found homework and school folders covering my entire body because they all needed help with something and I didn't hear them asking.

But I'm glad I could go. I'm glad I could remember all of my grandparents. I'm glad I could reconnect with long-lost relatives I'd lost contact with. And now I'm glad to be back home with my family in The Swamp.

As Little Grandma always said, "Family is everything."
How right she is!

1 comment:

  1. Gaylene, thanks for a great post! Family is indeed everything. Sorry to hear about your grandma, but happy that you got to visit those memorable for you places (and so beautiful too).