Thursday, June 17, 2010

An 80th Birthday

Someone I love very much just had a birthday. A big birthday. An 80th birthday. To celebrate, the extended fam gathered at the Lake House, our old stomping grounds. I've only been once in the last several years. As a child, I spent many a weekend there. It was good to be back, but it was hard. A lot of memories live in those walls.

My grandfather patiently allowed Sister to "decorate" his head...and in love, he wore those party hats for quite a little while. (We decided he looked rather dinosaur-ish, rather appropriate for an 80th birthday, no?)

We got in more time with my baby sister's baby - he's almost two! He's a mess and I love him. I can't wait for the day I can tote him home with me and keep him for several days. No doubt he and Little Man will be T.R.O.U.B.L.E.

After Little Bit went down for her first nap, and got up cloaked in sweat, she spent most of the remainder of the weekend in nothing but her diaper. Considering all the cute clothes I packed, that was rather unfortunate, but life. (smile)

I spent a few minutes reminiscing as I stared at my grandmother's hydrangeas.They remind me of her. I miss her. I really wish I'd had the chance to know her now, as a wife and mother. I would love to have just one conversation with her. We bonded during my high school years and I got to see a side of her I don't think many saw. It was shortly after that that her mind really began barreling down hill. I really think God was preparing her for what lay ahead. I think somewhere deep down, she knew her time was drawing near. She shared a lot about things she would have done differently. Maybe that's normal as we age. I don't know. I just know I treasure those quiet times of conversation when it was just the two of us. While she is still living (in a full time care facility), her mind has been gone (due to Alzheimer's disease) for a very long time. I really miss her.

The neighbor beside the lake house has always had a black lab and they've always named her (or him) after the Prime Minister. This is Blair. She and Little Man had a lot of fun together. As you can see.

And middle sister's sweet baby girl. Precious. Inquisitive. And growing. Weren't we just expecting together? How has the time flown!!!??? (I can't wait to tote her home, too! She and Little Bit are B.F.F.s.)

Little Man was afraid to get first. And then, there was no stopping him. He swam with Blair Sunday morning before church. We're talking early - like 7:45 or 8am! (I can't imagine what we put our parents through as children at the lake. Oh my. I remember the adults "bargaining" over who would take which shift down on the dock watching the kids.)

We took a pontoon boat ride. That might have been the highlight of the weekend for me.

Oh the memories. I sat on that stained, old boat without the back cover on, without any tables set up, and the memories flooded in of what it used to be like. I remember how all the fam crammed on that boat. We were busting at the seams.

There's actually a potty in the back corner. We used to get SUCH a kick out of someone using it. We'd crawl up on the back of the boat and wait for the perfect moment to peep our heads over the top to peer down at the unfortunate user.

We'd have three tables set up - two in the front, one in the back - and my Mom and grandmother and aunts would pack all kinds of wonderful to snack on. The grandchildren would take turns driving the boat. We'd pass the baby cousins from lap to lap, waving at each and every boat that passed by. Those were some precious, sweet times.

We'd pull back into the boat house at dusk, and all the women would head up to the kitchen, where they'd cook up a feast! And then we'd all cram around a giant table and eat together. My grandfather always took the head with my grandmother to his immediate right. I often got to sit beside her (and sometimes I didn't like that - she was a stickler for manners). We always had dessert...cheesecake and klondike bars (my grandmother could eat one in TWO bites, but that's a story for another day) were a favorite.

The children were always the first to finish dinner. We'd gather our plate, cup, and utensils, thank my grandmother for dinner, and ask to be excused. The adults would sit around that table for what felt like hours. Sometimes, if we were really fortunate, my grandmother and a few other adults would play poker with us. GASP. I know. All the grandchildren knew how to play poker. However, the concept of those chips having any monetary value, was totally lost on us.

Oh the memories!!! Precious, sweet memories of years gone by.

The paint on the boat house was peeling.

The bunk beds hadn't been slept on in a while.

The downstairs fridge doesn't work anymore.

There's moss growing on part of the roof.

There were no white impatiens to welcome us.

The fridge and pantry were nearly empty.

There was no grandmother in the kitchen.

No basketball game on the tv.

No deck of cards on the card table.

And my mom wasn't there. And that was really hard.

The cousins are all grown up. This time our babies were swinging in the baby swing and eating lunch in the high chair. We were the ones toting monitors and getting a grasp on sleepless nights at the lake.

And during the entire weekend, which for me, held many ups and downs, my man was there, steady as ever. Thank You, God, for this man!


  1. Such precious memories! Thanks for sharing!

  2. How fun! I love memories like that! I thought Katie made her blog private??? Isn't that a link to Katie's blog? We "bonded" over breastfeeding issues! :D Glad y'all had fun.

  3. J, please give your sweet granddaddy "W" a Happy Birthday wish from me!Love, BB

  4. I remembered the lake house exactly as you described it. Thanks for sharing the memories, and Happy Birthday Boom Boom!

  5. Oh yes...the bittersweet memories we all have! What a lovely post J! are blessed to have your steady T with you and the LORD, of course, through all that life brings! Hang in are precious. :)


  6. My grandmother died nearly 10 years ago from Alzheimers and I miss her so much. I wish she could have met my boys- she had four of them! I know she could have taught me a lot!

  7. My grandmother has dementia and does not know her own family most days. It is so hard to have that happen - it is as though she has died, though her body is still living. I too wish that I could have truly known her as an adult, but I'm very thankful for the sweet childhood memories I have.

  8. Sweet J,
    Hug. I'm so grateful for your honesty. Glad T was able to be there with you, too.

  9. Oh. This post just tugged at my heart.

    Bittersweet memories of the past and distinct joys of creating anew.

    Family is such a gift and so worth the emotion.

  10. How fortunate that you have such wonderful memories of your childhood.

  11. What a sweet post! Thanks for reminiscing "out loud". Sorry to hear your mom wasn't there to enjoy the time with you. I'm sure she is proud of you, in her heart...
    And that is probably the best pic I've ever seen of Taylor. :)

  12. J - thank you for your sweet comment on my blog. I read yours on my phone last night, and couldn't wait to get to a computer to comment in person. Then I saw my sister beat me to it!
    So many things come to mind - your sweet Boom Boom and Bongoo, and what a special friend she was to my mom. Rummikub and counting the geese decor all over the lake, Bonus Days and our childhood summer memories, the fact that I distinctly remember A when she was 2 and now she has a 2 year old!! Thank you so much for sharing these memories - beautifully written!

  13. Haven't seen your grandaddy since my brother's wedding...he looks great! Happy birthday to him!

    Glad you recorded all those special memories!

  14. Bittersweet... yes. For the sake of what is still in place and for those who hold it together facing the bitter is worth it to encounter and cultivate what is sweet.