When we found out that we couldn’t go home for Christmas this year, I had a melt-down–in the middle of our bathroom, to be exact. When Jeremiah asked me if I could narrow down exactly what it was that was putting me in hysterics I said, “I just don’t know how many more Christmases we’re going to have with Grandma, Grandpa, and Mimi, and I can’t stand to go the whole Holiday season without seeing them!”
As a sweet and tender husband (who wanted his wife to continue functioning through the already-stressful Holiday season) he said, “Why don’t we fly them out here this Spring instead of getting them Christmas presents? We’ll get to spend more time with them that way anyhow (since we won’t be torn between all the normal things that home calls us to), and we’ll just figure out the money thing…”
I knew I’d married the right man 😉
I told my Dad about our plan, and he talked to the rest of our family. My Mimi (Dad’s Mom) wasn’t quite sure she could handle all the rigors of a cross-country trip…but I’m still kinda hoping she’s going to change her mind here soon. My Grandma and Grandpa were on board from the first few words, and their children (my aunts and uncles) and my Dad helped by their tickets. I felt a little bad about asking them to come and then letting everybody else pay for it, but then I decided to just accept it as God’s goodness.
And so, one week ago, I got my Christmas wish.
The BIG bonus in the deal was that my Aunt Alice (my Mom’s sister and Latte as my chicken wings call her) and my Uncle Don (my Mom’s oldest brother who, shocking as it was to me, is a TOTAL kid magnet) brought Grandma and Grandpa and shared this adventure with us.
Now, as anyone in Dothan, Alabama who has run into my Grandpa over the past few months knows, his first harbor in the US at the end of World War II was in Seattle, Washington. He was on a ship called the Bon Homme Richard, and he had two primary memories of Seattle.
One was of icebergs as big around as he could circle his two arms. The other was getting off the boat on good American soil and being elected by his buddies to go buy them all a round of beer at a bar near a “White-Something” park. On his way back to the boat, arms loaded down with rounds of fun, he ran into “an ‘ol boy I’d grown up with in Sweetwater.” And he, known as Little Preacher back home (because his Daddy was the Preacher), a grown man celebrating the end of a war he’d fought in, was humiliated to be caught by somebody from back home with beer in his arms. I just love that story…I think it sums up my sweet Grandpa.
Well, we packed in the car and went on a GPS-guided, Blackberry-aided wild goose chase through the greater Seattle area, searching for the port where Grandpa had returned home. Grandpa was in the front seat, instructed to look for anything familiar and highly confused by what we were doing with all our little devices. After about an hour with little luck from our high-falutin’ technology he said, “If we could find an ‘ol boy bought my age, we could just pull over and ask him where the Bon Homme Richard came in. He’ll remember it. It was a BIG ship.”
I told him if he found an ‘ol boy of that description, to holler and I’d be glad to pull over and ask just that.
After about two hours, we think we found it.
The next day we took the Victoria Clipper to…Victoria.
Grandpa was a nervous wreck about the impromptu trip on a boat. I don’t know if he thought we were putting him back on the Bon Homme Richard, or if he thought we were taking a dingy out to sea and planning to hand him a paddle, but he said “I don’t want to spend my last days on no boat.” He did not find our laughter amusing.
We made it safely 🙂 and had the awed pleasure of visiting the famous Butchart Gardens.
It was a wonderful time. How many girls can say that their 80-something-year-old grandparents are healthy enough and adventurous enough to fly from Alabama to Seattle to spend the week with them? How priceless to watch my girls being loved on by the same arms that loved me throughout my childhood? How heart-filling to hear stories of my Mom from the people who knew her even better than I? I couldn’t take pictures to capture those parts…but they were the best of all.